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Why your credit score matters in retirement

Published on March 13, 2024 | LPL Financial

Regardless of the stage of life, your credit score is an essential component of your financial health when you’re in retirement. A consistently strong credit score can pave the way for greater confidence, easy loan access, and lower interest rates. Many retirees overlook the importance of maintaining a suitable credit score after they stop working or that credit scores lose relevance in retirement. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Here’s a detailed look at why your credit score matters in retirement.

To Maintain Your Ability to Seek Credit

Retirement does not equate to financial inactivity. Even though you may no longer earn a regular paycheck, you may still engage in financial transactions requiring a credit check. For instance, if you plan to refinance your mortgage to a lower rate, lenders may consider your credit score part of the qualification process. If your score is low, you might be denied the mortgage or offered a higher interest rate mortgage.

To Find Housing

In addition, retirees often consider downsizing their homes, moving to senior living communities, or relocating to different states or countries. Any of these scenarios might necessitate applying for a new mortgage, a process that, once again, requires a solid credit score. Additionally, vacation home landlords often conduct credit checks before renting their property. A poor credit score can limit your options or cause you to lose out on your preferred vacation destination property.

Money for emergencies

Another reason your credit score matters in retirement is the possibility of unexpected expenses. Life is inherently unpredictable, and even in retirement, unforeseen costs can arise. These costs could be due to health complications, housing repairs, or helping a family member financially. In line with these circumstances, having good credit can make borrowing money more accessible.

New Opportunities

Retirees may also want to explore new ventures, like starting a business. Credit scores significantly impact the credit terms under which one can borrow capital to launch a business. An excellent credit score can make acquiring a loan less costly and more accessible. On the contrary, a low credit score could lead to onerous loan terms or a loan denial.

Suitable Insurance Rates

Furthermore, some insurance companies use credit-based insurance scores to determine risk factors and premiums for auto and homeowner’s insurance policies. A poor credit score might cause retirees to pay a higher premium or, worse still, reject their policy application outright.

Tip to Maintain Good Credit

A good credit score is essential to your overall financial health. Lenders, landlords, utility companies, and insurance companies use credit scores to evaluate your reliability. Here are some tips retirees can use to help maintain good credit.

Tip #1- Pay bills on time.

The first and most significant tip for maintaining good credit is ensuring your bills are paid on time. Delayed or missed payments can negatively affect your credit score.

Tip #2- Maintain low or no credit card balances.

The proverb “the less, the better” holds significance regarding credit card balances. Keeping your credit card balances low and not revolving is essential, and a lower percentage of credit use (below 30%) is positive. Maxing out your credit cards or maintaining high balances can negatively impact your credit.

Tip #3- Open new credit accounts only as needed.

While having a mix of credit types – such as credit cards, car loans, or mortgages – can help your credit score, it’s important not to open too many accounts in a short period.

Tip #4- Regularly check your credit reports.

Proactive credit report monitoring is vital, especially regarding credit scores. Regular credit report checks are instrumental in maintaining good credit. It helps to promptly identify any inaccuracies or fraud that could harm your credit.

Tip #5- Keep old credit accounts open.

The length of your credit history is another factor influencing your credit score. If you close an old credit account, you shorten your credit history, which could hurt your score.

Tip #6- Negotiate with creditors if necessary.

If you’ve missed payments and your credit score has taken a negative turn, contact your creditors and negotiate to remove the negative information.

Tip #7- Diversify your credit.

Having a diversity of credit types, such as a mix of installment loans, retail accounts, credit cards, and mortgage loans – can positively impact your credit score. Credit diversity demonstrates to potential creditors that you can responsibly handle different types of credit.

Tip #8- Seek professional help.

If you are overwhelmed with managing credit or have already slipped into a bad credit score, seeking professional help could be appropriate. Credit counseling agencies can provide invaluable assistance in rebuilding your credit score. Your financial professional can also be a source of help in providing recommendations based on your situation.

In conclusion, maintaining a suitable credit score is indispensable in your financial life, even throughout retirement. Retirees must focus on maintaining an excellent credit score to provide them with financial independence in their golden years.

Important Disclosures:

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

This article was prepared by Fresh Finance.

LPL Tracking #527484

Sources:

https://www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/info-2022/retirement-and-your-credit-score.html

https://www.credit.com/blog/credit-score-during-retirement/

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