Valdosta Daily Times

January 27, 2013

Cupid, the possessor of love and good credit scores?

Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Well ladies and gents, if you are single and ready to mingle, but your credit score is lower than the collective approval rating of Congress, then you might be spending Valentine's Day like Manti Te’o ... actually but not metaphorically alone.

The New York Times recently reported that several websites are trying to match people based upon their credit scores. Among them are CreditScoreDating.com and DateMyCreditScore.com.

The credit score, a once lucid metric-derived formula that incorporates outstanding debt and payment histories, is now a number that represents your self-esteem, your ability to get a loan and now, whether or not you are date worthy.

According to The New York Times, the credit score is so widely used that it has also become a bigger factor in dating decisions, often eclipsing a good job and shared interests.

While I often turn to Clark Howard for almost all of my advice, I must shame-finger him for jumping on this bandwagon.

Howard claims that he’s seen his fair share of couples fall apart because of debt issues. While this is true, I cannot morally condone dating someone because of something so superficial as a credit score. If that were the case, I would be divorced by now, and let’s face it, I’m awesome.

However, I do feel that it is important to keep tabs on your own credit score and leave the credit score of others to their own demise.

In 2003, the Fair Credit Reporting Act gave consumers access to annual credit reports from the three major credit-reporting agencies through a centralized source, AnnualCreditReport.com.

A lot of sites promise “free” credit scores, but in reality, sign people up for a fee-based credit monitoring product. The score costs nothing only if the consumer cancels the order before the end of the trial period.

Not only is it important to monitor your credit score yearly, but make sure your actions are conducive with your goal of good credit and contrary to popular belief, no credit or debt is not good credit.

You can’t raise your credit score if you don’t have credit, and you will need credit for virtually every major purchase or procurement in your life (i.e. house, car, student loan).

Also, you don’t have to pay credit card interest to achieve great scores. Using credit is not the same as carrying a balance on your card. A good way to achieve good credit is to pay off your balance religiously. However, when you pay off a balance, don’t close the account. Doing so actually reduces your available credit and drives your score down. According to Howard, you want to have between four to six lines of credit that you use at least twice a year.

But just because you use your credit card doesn’t mean you should max it out all the time. The rule of thumb is to only use 30 percent of your total limit. If you have a $10,000 credit limit, you should realistically only use $3,000 of that limit. You always want to stay at a credit utilization of 30 percent or less.

There are also some common sense things you can do to get a good credit score.

For example, make sure you always pay your bills on time and pay down the total amount you owe. According to Howard, this is the single most important rule for having a good credit score.

I’m not saying a good credit score isn’t important, let’s face reality, it pretty much determines the quality of your life. However, I think it’s a little unnecessary to base a relationship off the quality of their financial situation instead of the quality of their person. Sure, before my husband and I consolidated our accounts, we looked over each other’s scores and talked about finances, but I would have never called off our wedding if his score was less than par.

That’s all I got for you this week, my dear budgeteers.

Don’t forget to like my new Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BrittanyDenneyMcClure. I only have 73 likes and I’m starting to feel like I have no friends.

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