A number of organizations use your credit score to determine eligibility for their services. Essentially, it’s a calculation formulated by gauging your current and past financial performance, in effort to predict future behavior. The end result is a measure also known as creditworthiness.
Your credit score is a convenient three digit representation of the information contained in your credit report, which includes a listing of all current and past credit accounts open under your name, such as loans, credit cards or other installment agreement. Account records note the date each account was opened, your bill-payment history and your current balance. Additionally, your credit report will detail any negative information, such as late payments, accounts in collection, bankruptcy, foreclosures, liens and judgments.
It's easy to make the assumption that only lenders trying to approve financial accounts would check your credit score, but in truth a host of others evaluate your credit. Your credit can be used in several scenarios, for instance to set insurance rates, secure employment, land your apartment’s move-in special or avoid the utility company’s initial surcharge.
Lenders check your credit score to decide whether or not to grant you access to credit, assign interest rates and set a credit limit for the account. Lenders prefer to see a credit score that reflects positive payment history and a low credit utilization rate. Such behaviors exemplify the ability to use credit responsibly without depending on it.
Insurance companies correlate your credit score with the number of claims you are likely to file. According to insurance agents, drivers who have high credit scores tend to file fewer claims. When you apply for insurance, the premium you are charged and the rate you receive is based in some part on your credit score. It’s important to note that four states have banned this practice: California, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Maryland.
It’s becoming more common for employers to use credit checks as part of the hiring process. A 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management noted 60% of employers using this practice, an increase of almost 100% from just seven years prior. Similar to lenders and insurers, employers associate good credit with responsibility and discipline. Not all employers pull an applicant's credit history or place tremendous weight on it, but individuals working in government or financial roles can expect their credit scores to be a factor.
When you open utility accounts – including electric, cable and telephone services – the utility company examines your credit history. Utility companies use your credit score to determine whether you will be required to put down a deposit. In some cases, they may even require you to have a co-signer.
Lastly, landlords request a prospective tenant's credit score to measure the likelihood that he or she will pay rent on time. This is primarily the case for apartment complexes controlled by real estate companies, rather than individuals. A strong credit score can mean a smaller security deposit or qualifying for a move-in special such as, first month free. On the contrary a low credit score can cause penalties such as doubling the security deposit required.