While Baby Boomers have a earned a reputation for achieving high credit scores, there’s much they always need to keep in mind. Let’s look at credit questions all boomers will need to answer:
1. What affects my credit report?
Boomers often find themselves saddled with other people’s debts, especially their kid’s. This may include cosigning for cars, student loans, or even homes. The big danger is that if the primary borrower can’t pay, the cosigner ends up responsible for the debt. Even if the bills are paid on time, the debt will usually be included on their credit reports and affect their debt ratios and credit scores.
2. How do sudden health bills affect my credit score?
Medical bills can seriously affect Boomers’ finances. If a medical bill goes to collection, there is a big hit on the score.
3. Can someone have too much credit?
Many Boomers find that they don’t need much of the credit that they have built up over the years, credit that is still available to them. Naturally, they wonder if their credit score would improve if they cancelled some available credit. But this is not necessary. Most scoring models, which are more concerned with the debt you are carrying than your available credit. So you’re usually best off just leaving them alone.
4. Will being close to retirement hurt my credit score?
The fact that you have been using credit for many years helps your credit scores. Most scoring models take into account the average age of your accounts, as well as the age of your oldest account.
5. Will a lower retirement income affet my credit score?
No. So while a drop in income might make paying bills more challenging, that alone won’t hurt your credit score. But it is a good warning about debt. Ideally you’ll have houses, cars, and credit cards paid off prior to retirement.
6. I don’t need to borrow money anymore. Why should I care what my score is?
Credit scores are used for much more than just issuing credit. For instance, you may be a boomer who chooses to work for a few more years. Don’t be surprised if a potential employer checks your score. If you have an auto or homeowners insurance policy, there’s better than a 50/50 chance that the insurer will consider your credit score in determining rates and discounts.
Adapted From MONEY: 6 Facts Baby Boomers Need to Know About Credit, by Gary Foreman