Some people inquire about a potential mate’s age or how many previous partners they’ve had. Others are more interested in another number.
Some 42% of adults say knowing someone’s credit score would affect their willingness to date that person, according to a recent survey of 1,000 adults by personal finance website Bankrate.com. That’s up from nearly 40% last year. Women were nearly three times as likely to consider credit score a major influence on a potential partner compared to men (20% versus 7%). Younger daters are not as concerned about these three digits: 45% of older millennials, defined here as those aged 27 to 36, said they care about these three digits.
Credit scores reveal an individual’s relationship skill and level of commitment, and trustworthiness.
This can be useful for people using dating sites like Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid IAC, -2.70% and Match.com. A high credit score can help predict whether someone is trustworthy. Similar credit scores are “highly predictive” of whether couples stay together, according to another 2015 paper by researchers at UCLA, the Brookings Institution and Federal Reserve Board, Washington, D.C. “Initial credit scores and match quality predict subsequent credit usage and financial distress, which in turn are correlated with relationship dissolution,” they wrote. “Credit scores reveal an individual’s relationship skill and level of commitment.”
“Previous studies have documented the various traits by which individuals sort themselves into committed relationships, including race, educational attainment, and earning capacity, parental wealth, social caste and physical appearance,” they wrote. “Credit scores are arguably the most prominent individual-level characteristic lenders use to underwrite credit.” These three digits, therefore, help give single people a bird’s eye view into a person’s ability to meet future financial (and familial) obligations.
By showing an interest in these three digits, people are probably being smart rather than shallow, says Jeffrey Hall, associate professor of communications at the University of Kansas. “Finances, education, and job prospects all factor into the value of a potential mate,” he says. “Assuming that people can actually interpret a credit score meaningfully, it makes sense they would think a credit score is useful in evaluating mate value.”
Also see: The most surprising mistake people make when building their credit score
Low credit scores can deny one access to a mortgage and increase the costs of loans by thousands of dollars.
What people do and say in the early days of dating might have an impact later on. People are combining their finances when they marry, after all, and that can impact their future happiness. In fact, the higher your credit score, the less likely you’ll separate from your partner — and a lower score often means you’ll be less lucky in love. More than half of Americans (58%) said they wouldn’t marry someone with significant debt, according to a study released in March 2017 of more than 2,300 adults from legal industry site Avvo.
While knowing someone’s credit score doesn’t necessarily reveal whether that person has a medical or student debt or even their annual income, it does indicate whether they are eligible for a loan. A bank will look at each person’s middle scores— from the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — and then take a couple’s average score to determine their overall credit worthiness. And a low credit score doesn’t necessarily mean that you are irresponsible with money or even have no money. Credit scoring models look at the amount a consumer owes versus the total amount of credit available, known as the credit “utilization ratio.”
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Low credit scores can deny one access to a mortgage or increase the costs of credit by thousands of dollars, says Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, a consumer advocacy group. Credit scores are likely to increase the finance charges on a $20,000, 60-month car loan by more than $5,000.
For those who are interested in talking about this during a candle-lit dinner, they should know what it means. A score between 661 and 780 is considered good credit and between 781 and 850 is regarded as excellent credit, according to financial website Credit.com. The site rates fair credit as between 601 and 660, poor credit between 501 and 600 and bad credit as anything below 500.
Previous research suggests women are more concerned about their potential partner’s earning power than men.
But different lenders may have different criteria when it comes to loaning money, and may approve borrowers with a credit score of below 700. A high score effectively means that their prospective date has been paying their bills off on time, or only uses a small percentage of their available credit on credit cards.
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Still, those millennials in Bankrate’s study might be too quick to judge. That age group also has the lowest credit scores of any generation of Americans, a separate report released by credit bureau Experian concluded. The report, based on anonymous data from Experian’s consumer credit database, found that millennials have an average credit score of 625 on an average debt of $52,120.
By comparison, Generation X (aged 35 to 49) have a credit score of 650 on average debt of $125,000, while both baby boomers and the Greatest Generation (with a combined age of between 50 and 87) have credit scores of 709 on average debt of $87,438. Credit scores, experts say, are built on experience, and millennials have plenty of time to improve their digits.
Previous research also supports the proposition that women are more concerned about their potential partner’s earning power than men. “Too many women are still overly-focused on their romantic partner’s holdings. In their minds, money equals power, and women want powerful men,” says Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based psychotherapist. “Money comes and goes, and you are always faced with each other.”
Walfish says the rich, famous and privileged flock into her office with the same ailments and issues as regular people, namely communication, sexual issues, parenting, and, most importantly, conflict resolution skills. Financial responsibility runs through most of these issues, and can be a test for how willing people are to work together as a team to build a future. “The goal for every person is to evolve as a complete, whole and self-reliant individual,” she says.
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