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My Credit Score: Why I Don’t Care and You Shouldn’t Either

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Editor’s Note: We have been talking a lot about credit card rewards in recent weeks. While we wouldn’t recommend credit card rewards for everybody, we feel that it is a great way to “make” extra money when it is done right. However, one of the questions that gets asked frequently is, “What about your credit score?” The following post is our answer to that question. It was originally published in July 2012, and has been slightly updated. Enjoy!  (Read this post to find out how we’re paying for our next vacation with credit card rewards).

Do you know what your credit score is? The last time I checked, mine was about 800.

That’s great, right? I should be absolutely, undeniably stoked. Well…I’m not…really. In fact, I couldn’t care less.

The lending industry has bombarded us with propaganda about credit scores for years.  They would have us believe that everybody should be striving to increase their credit score. They make us believe that the only way to financial security is through a high credit score. If your credit score is low, you may be up s#it creek without a paddle.

Now, I don’t deny that a high credit score can help you to secure a loan. However, what I am here to tell you is that their line of thinking is hogwash.  Yep, I said it.  It is a big pile of crap.  In fact, I believe that the credit score is one of the most deceptive and meaningless marketing tools that the lending industry uses to control your financial behavior.  Don’t believe me? Here’s why.

What is a Credit Score

A credit score (a.k.a. a FICO score) is essentially a tool that lenders use to determine the level of risk that they are accepting by granting you a loan.  The type and age of the accounts you hold, your past history of late or delinquent payments, and the total amount of debt that you have accrued are just some of the many factors that determine your credit score.  According to Experian, while most credit scores fall between 600-750, a score above 700 is considered good credit management. Essentially, the lower your score, the bigger risk you pose to a bank who is willing to lend money to you. Even car insurance companies include your credit score as one of the factors that affects your premiums. The higher your score, the less risk you pose.

For many years, people have been taught good credit equals good financial stability.  That is a flat-out deception.  In fact, financial stability should be measured by how little debt you owe rather than how much debt you are allowed to accumulate. There are plenty of extremely wealthy people who have low scores because they don’t use credit. Instead of you being worrying about how your score affects your financial stability, you should be much more worried about the effect your debt is having.

But why? Why would the banks try to convince you of this mythical numbers importance? The answer is simple: to get you to purchase more credit so they can make more money.

The Credit Score Myth

To me, the lending industry perpetuates the myth of the credit score in a way that is similar to how your friendly local drug dealer peddles his products.  The lenders make it easy for you to get your first taste of credit.  From the time that you turn 18 years-old, they start bombarding you with direct mail, offering you the chance to get your first credit card.  Often times, they’ll partner with colleges and universities to “sell” those cards.  “Build your credit and help your school at the same time,” is a promise that offers – not only – the opportunity to buy things you can’t afford, but the illusion of freedom at the same time.  What 18 year-old doesn’t crave freedom?

Once the lenders worm you into their system, they really have you hooked.  The credit score simply is another way for them to keep you buying their product.  First, they tell you about all the wonders of what credit can do for you.  “Want a brand new car that you can’t afford?  Don’t worry, just use a little credit.  Want a new pair of Louis Vuittons but you’re a little strapped for cash? Go ahead! You can afford it!  Just charge it!  Come on, you can do it. It feels soooooo good!”

After they’ve spun all the fairy tales of a brilliant future that is paid for with “free money,” chances are that you are already addicted to their drug.  Still, occasionally, one of their clients has the bright idea that they will break free from their credit addiction.  In order to squash a mass exodus, the debt pushers use fear to whip their remaining clients back into line. By downgrading the scores of those who no longer use or require credit, the banks “punish” those who have slipped through their clutches by “taking away” the thing that their loyal customers crave most – more credit.  By convincing the masses of the value of their precious credit score, banks have conned most of us into staying perpetually in debt to them.  It truly is a brilliant marketing plan.

Credit Equals Debt

In truth, the term “credit score” shouldn’t be termed a credit score at all.  You see, credit is just a prettier way to say the word debt.  If this metric were named a “potential for debt score” instead of a “credit score,” I think that it would probably lose a lot of its appeal.

To be sure, we have used credit before and used it successfully to our advantage.  Without credit, we would have never been able to buy the house that we live in.  Although we couldn’t afford them at the time, we never would have been able to purchase our two rental houses – which now seem like one of the best financial decisions we ever made.  Luckily for us, everything has worked out as planned  – at least so far.  In other ways, easily accessible credit has changed the course of our lives.

The Allure of Credit

The attraction of credit is a very real and addictive thing.  Credit makes purchasing so easy, especially when it comes to purchasing “big-ticket” items.  For example, my wife and I recently paid one last giant payment toward a car that we originally purchased using credit.  What we thought was going to be a joyous and triumphant moment felt more like a funeral. We were sure that it would feel great to have that car payment behind us.  Now, after the fact, it does.  But, the actual moment where we had to write that huge check really hurt.  We had worked so hard to save that money, and it was gone in an instant.

You see, it felt like we were paying for something we had already purchased.  We had deluded ourselves into thinking that the money we had in our possession was actually ours.  Unfortunately, not only was the money not really ours, but the car wasn’t either. Using credit had masked the true cost and –  thus – the pain of the actual purchase.  For us, the moment became less of a triumph and more of a lesson about not repeating our past mistakes.

Really, it should hurt to make large purchases.  It is this “buy now, pay later” mentality that has gotten Americans into trouble over the last several years.  Americans have bought into a mentality that believes that “the bill will never come due.”  While carrying debt works fine during good times, major problems begin to surface when everything doesn’t go as planned.

Why I Don’t Care About My Credit Score

While my credit score is high, from this point forward, I truly couldn’t care less about it.  Why? Because I am determined to no longer use debt to fund my lifestyle. I refuse to use credit to buy things that I can’t afford.  A high credit score does nothing for somebody who always pays his debts.

The only real way to win this game is to not play.  To do that, make a zero-sum budget, become debt free, don’t buy things you can’t afford, and don’t go back into debt for any reason.  Only then can you truly know the taste of financial security.

How do you feel about credit scores? Am I way off base? Let us know in the comments below!

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163 Comments

  1. We don’t even know ours! Funny! Our entire world seems to be bought on this idea of credit scores. Who needs a credit score when you can just pay everything in cash?

    1. Hi Whitney,

      Thanks for the comment! That is exactly what I’m trying to get at. If you don’t use credit to pay for things – and why would you if you can afford them in the first place??? – then your credit score doesn’t matter at all. Unless you are buying a house, you really should be paying for things in cash only.

      1. Hi Greg,

        I do not understand how you can tell people credit scores do not matter and that we do not need to establish a credit score … and then in this comment say we need credit to buy a home.

        Possibly for yourself, and these other wealthy people you discussed in your article whom are already established with a home, credit scores do not matter.

        But for the majority of people this is not the case, so if we followed your advice to buy cash for everything and simply not care about our credit reports we would forever be stuck renting.

        While the temptation to be irresponsible and say my credit score does not matter is incredibly strong, it is also very apparent that I would be dooming myself to a life of renting.

        Thank you for sharing your opinion on the matter of credit, however it is quite apparent that it is only relevant for wealthy people with enough income and saving to cover themselves even in extraneous situations. The majority of people in times of need would rely on their credit score to be able to get a loan and continue to pay their bills.

        1. Hey Jessica,
          Thanks for the the thoughtful comment. I wrote this piece about 3 years ago, and my views have changed slightly. However, the main idea behind the piece still stands. The main point of the article is that a credit score is just some made up number to keep you in debt. If live below your means and get out of debt, you really don’t have to worry about it.

          It has nothing to do with being wealthy or poor. In fact, continuing to take out loans to pay your bills is one way to stay poor forever. You either need to A) cut your spending, B) increase your income, or C) do both. I realize that may not be easy or comfortable, but it’s the only way to financial freedom.

          Credit reports are a completely different story than credit scores. You should be regularly checking your credit report to make sure that nobody is stealing from you. Credit reports are simply a history of open accounts, and those are very important. You can get a free credit report once a year from each of the three credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.

          Thanks again for visiting the website and leaving a comment. We have tons of useful information about how to budget, cut your expenses, get the most out of your money, and ideas for earning more on the side. It sounds like many of these could be helpful for you. Please feel free to surf around and contact me with any questions. We’re here to help!

        2. Exactly my thoughts on this article ??

        3. Jessica, you clearly feel the need to live way above your means and that is why you place so much value in a mere number. We live in a 3500 dollar mobile home paid for with cash because we didn’t pay fees and interest to some banker living high on the hog courtesy of you and people like you. I don’t need 200 dollar shoes, a 300,000 dollar home, a 75000 dollar vehicle, nor any of the “keeping up with the joneses” bobbles that so many people feel they can’t live without. I feel bad for you. Save your money and you’ll go far WITHOUT a meaningless number to define us. Don’t be a system lover, trust me, they only want your money.

          1. Well, you may be fine and content with your poverty life, but others of us strive for and want more and some of us live by a yolo motto. So, sadly that “meaningless” number does have meaning after all. What the problem is, is that it exists at all and that it’s rigged to work against you. What we need to do as a united front, is tell these credit companies, no more. You will not control our lives with your rigged system. If we could get everyone and I mean everyone to stop all payments, what’re they gonna do? Ding the entire country and try to collect EVERYTHING from EVERYONE! yeah right. Problem is we are too busy fighting each other instead of uniting to fight against ridiculous and garbage systems like credit scores. Look at what unions accomplished back in the day for workers rights. THAT’S how you make change, a united front, but this is just a sad pipe dream and will never happen.

        4. Borrowing money and paying it back keeps you poor, renting etc. Not borrowing money allows you to save and build wealth. Borrowing money is the only way to raise your credit score.
          Also credit shouldn’t be used in an emergency. Cash is used for emergencies. That’s why it’s called an emergency fund. Viewing credit and credit scores as a measure of success and wealth and relying on credit for emergencies will lead a lifetime of living paycheck to paycheck and never building any true wealth.

        5. Yes, you can buy a home without a credit score.
          As long as you have a good down payment and can show that you’ve paid rent on time then the bank can go manual underwriting if the mortgage.
          As keep in mind that it takes patience to wait on buying a house, but once you’ve saved enough for that home you would have better peace knowing you won’t be overwhelmed with the house debt plus the other debts that many experience.

        6. Ian Daugherty says:

          I have a zero credit score and purchased a house. Your statements are all false. Long live dave Ramsey ?

          1. Oh please enlighten us on how you accomplished this and how it all turned out.

        7. Here’s a “credit” story for ya! I bought a house some years ago. My credit was less then stellar to begin with. As property taxes skyrocketed and my income halved by divorce, I was crippled by the debt of the home I could no longer afford. Why not sell? Because the I was upside down on the house by 60k. Now being in the military, your credit can effect your job. I couldn’t walk away and eat a foreclosure or a short sale. So for 8 years I struggled to pay. Often times missing bills or not going to work because I couldn’t afford gas. After much struggle and many missed payments, a repossessed car and a written off credit card…. I had the opportunity to sell. Maybe… the house was in a bit of disrepair after a decade of struggle. But a small loan from family and a good realtor later, I made 50k!!!! I immediately paid off ALL my debts and for the first time in my life, I was debt free. I expected my credit to start rebounding. The EXACT OPPOSITE happened. I dropped from 520 to 400 almost over night!!! I called a credit counselor to figure out why. And it’s simple, I had no debt! NONE! No car payments, no credit cards, no mortgage. My pay was MY PAY! But now I’m stuck renting….. so long story short, 2 credit cards and a small car loan later, oh and 2 YEARS…. I’m skirting the low 600’s. Still to low to get a home loan. But maybe some day when I’m neck deep in the banks loaned money… I’ll have a place some bank can call their loan.

          1. We all have sad stories. I don’t want to look back of the suffering my 3 teens and I went through. The snakes don’t care for children. Their main thing is that damn money to snoch out of you and I. I was down to $1200 to pay off my home. The bank attorneys were threatening me everyday to take away my house even calling me at work, and were telling me to take my kids and get out of the house. Finely I sold an old car I had for $1200 and paid off the house. No one even one person congratulated me in the Bank. They looked at me like I have created a crime. They know I was a single mother with low income. Never ever again I will put my money in a bank. That was “First Bank of America.” All the smiles they put are fake. inside they are snakes.

          2. Just like I said earlier, it’s a rigged system and until we all band together to fight it, it’s not gonna change or get any better.

        8. It’s because you stupidly assume that a wildly overpriced home is something you need, because american culture has convinced you of this.

          You don’t need a house. If you want a house save up and buy it outright — orherwise stop overextending yourself and rent a room.

      2. And if you are buying a house? Well I don’t care I already have my 3 houses. You shouldn’t care either. This is silly. More like bragging than saying you shouldn’t care.

      3. Hello, my wife and I own everything that we have including our house.
        It feels good to go to work daily knowing that no mater what happens, we have an emergency fund and are debt free

      4. Andrew O Mckinn says:

        Greg,

        Good article, but give me a break, sir.
        You say you don’t care about your credit score? Hogwash.

        Would you care if it were 550? Yes, you would.
        I bet you keep tabs on it as often as I do–once a month.
        Good credit scores matter–when you need them.
        A financially responsible person, e.g. a home owner like yourself, ensures his/her credit score stays good.

        Okay, so you may not “worry” about the three-digit number, but you do care about paying your mortgage, credit cards, and other bills on time, yes?
        And that affects your credit score. Call it any way you see it, but I’m willing to be you DO care that your credit score stays good, despite what you say in your article.

      5. I hate credit! It is this big mind game that you have to go into debt to prove that you can manage debt. Then once you prove you can manage it, you are neck deep in interest and random other fees. I can see taking out FAFSA, but other than that, I pay cash. I’ve been in the same apartment for five years and am putting money aside to buy a fixer upper manufactured home. I have zero desire to have some fifteen or thirty year huge mortgage. It isn’t like I can take the house with me when I die. Here in Vegas, you can easily get a decent used car for $500 down and proof of stable employment. They really don’t care about your credit score as long as you have the previously mentioned, unless you want a brand new car or some really expensive car (which I have no use for). Living without worrying about credit truly is the way to go!

      6. I don’t care about credit score either. One time I went to my credit union to borrow $2k. They were charging me 15% interest because I have a low score. I have no score at all. They wanted me to get a credit card to establish my credit. I told them, why should I do that? To pay more interest to the credit card? I walk out and told the credit union is your lost with your credit score and imposing credit cards to your customers. I told them, I am purchasing a car and paying cash for it. My car will be $2000 less. but I will still have a damn good car, without the owing them nothing. I would rather save that $2k for my self for a nice vacation or help my grand kids.
        The credit score it satanic practices. Live cheaper materialistic, and live like a king and queen. Be free from the criminals who causing evictions to low income young families and their children. This crime credit score has t stop, along with student loans!

      7. I don’t care for credit score either. I was over charges by some popular crooked phone companies, and I told them I am not paying your bills. I stop them and don’t give a damn for a credit score they have created for me. I try to live in a small cycle. I live like a queen. I don’t care what others think, I am happy and free and enjoy my life without the extra load of junk and credit scores. It is a shame that we are being treated this way by businesses. CoronaVirus taught me a good lesson, to be tight with my money and not to give it to others. be the winner not the looser.

    2. THANK YOU! CASH SHALL ALWAYS BE KING! Can’t get that mortgage yet. Work hard and get a better job. Need a new car, buy it used or save up for a new one. It’s easy if you work hard (that doesn’t make sense now does it). Live BELOW your means and watch you buy out everyone else in the long run.

      1. I had friends who only had to pay $7k and $25k to their mortgage. Once they were introduced to credit cards from the bank, they lost their homes, because they refinanced their homes to pay the credit cards debt. Now they end up with lots of junk cannot get rid off, and big toys. They had good paying jobs too!
        My job was minimum wage. I was the only one that had no plastic money, not fancy looking, cheap car, but my life is a quality life. Worry free from crooks digging in my pockets. I live simple life, and don’t care what the others think of me. I cut down many things, and I am Free! My friends are paying the credit cards even with their SS funds. Stay away from satanic peoples practices. listen to your mind and think before you do anything. be humble, be honest to yourself, have pride and respect, and keep big ego out. Keep your circle small that you can handle.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. The only time I have ever even thought about my credit score was when I was buying my house.
    (I just stumbled upon your blog recently and am enjoying poking around.)

    1. Thanks for writing, Eileen!

      Indeed, I am very glad that I worried about my credit score up until we bought our home and rental properties. But now, it serves no purpose for me. I choose to worry about other things, like making and saving money. It sounds like you do too.

      Have a great night!

  3. I think it’s pretty funny that you need to have credit and use it to show lenders you don’t need it. It is nice to have a high credit score if you want lower interest rates for car, personal and home loans though. So I guess we have to jump through their hoops to avoid paying way more than we should.

    1. I totally agree. It’s a silly game we all have to play.

      But, now that I should no longer have to use credit again…I don’t really give a &*#!!!!

      I am an enthusiastic credit card rewards user though, so that should be enough to keep my credit score up to date. I put almost everything on them and pay it off every month.

      1. I DON’T USE CREDIT CARDS. SHOT THEM OFF.

    2. Like poor people have to. (Pay more that is.) Ironic isn’t it?

    3. Most lenders don’t
      have good credit either! medical bills are big! Purchasing a car, pay house bills and mortgage, children. school loans. We all have bills to pay. But for crying alot, everything is going up and up and most people getting into big debt and stock in the mud! many young workers in the cities eat pasta everyday to pay their rent and the car to commute to work, and to keep their credit score high for they don’t lose their apartment. That is not life, but a slavery! Many people work more than one job to keep a good credit score and live a miserable life full of anger and frustrations. . Thank God I don’t care and dont need this satanic people in my life to screw it.

  4. I have to say I care dearly after my 100 day mortgage refi SAGA!

    $8 late payment by my tenants 2 years ago crushed my score by 100 points! I wrote a post entitled, “PG&E Killed My Friend’s Wife And My Credit Score”…. shocking.

  5. I have never checked my credit score, but I have never had any issues with getting finance from the banks so I haven’t needed to find out how I rate.

    1. We actually keep an eye on ours, but it doesn’t matter to us all that much since we never plan on borrowing again.

  6. Very interesting perspective, and it’s true that credit does equal debt. I didn’t know my credit score until I got a mortgage, and it was pretty much in line with what I thought it would be.

  7. Great post Greg! I also struggle to see why obtaining a high credit score is seen as such an achievment… it is essentially gives young people justification and even a reward to spend money they don’t have!

    1. Pretty much. It simply shows that you are a good “risk” for the bank.

      1. The bank can go to hell. If everybody pull all their money off the banks, the banks are broke and her credit score in the shit!
        Lock the door up and everybody go home. Number one, the banks don’t return much to their deposit clients. Who give them the right to judge the clients and number than as an object number score? Are we sheep?.

  8. I am not too concerned with my credit score, because it’s only an indication of how well one manages debt. I do check my credit bureau, just to make sure there are no accuracies.

  9. Spot on here, Greg. I worked for years in personal and mortgage lending, and boy, did our eyes sparkle when we saw those over 750 numbers. It took me years to realize what you said about a good credit score meaning you can manage a lot of debt. While I agree that it can affect your mortgage approval/rate, if you’ve got a good chunk of money that you’re putting down, you’ll likely get the lower rate regardless of your credit score, unless of course your credit is totally trashed.

    1. Yeah, I’m not saying go out and intentionally trash your credit score. I’m saying pay your bills, but don’t go out of your way to accrue debt in order to build a credit score. You can still get a loan (if needed) without one. A bank would be silly not to loan money to somebody with zero debt.

  10. I have a good credit score. I wouldn’t do anything to ruin my credit, but certainly don’t care whether it’s OK or really good. Frankly, I don’t plan on taking out credit within the next little while. Sure, it’s easy to get credit cards to build up rewards points with a good credit score but I don’t see any other huge benefit.

    1. Ha! Getting the best rewards is our biggest concern with our credit score right now too 😀

  11. I care what mine is, but I do agree that it is mostly propaganda, the fact that how long you’ve had a credit card open is a factor really pisses me off. What if it had a horrible APR?

    1. It is all a bunch of malarky. That is the problem with debt: the banks can pretty much make up the rules as they go. Stupid.

  12. I’ve decided not to care about my credit score and pay off debt. I’m sure it did help me get a couple of my better rewards credit cards, so I’m grateful for that, but you’re right. Higher credit score usually = more debt.

    1. Maybe not more debt, but more access to debt.

  13. The only reason I care about my credit score is that it impossible to get awesome cash-back rewards cards without excellent credit. American Express Blue Cash, Chase Freedom, and Capital One Cash are all great cards to have, but they all require awesome credit.

    1. Yup! That is our main concern with our credit score at the moment as well 😀

    2. Why do we chase these stupid credit cards with the so called cash back rewards?
      How about not using them in the first place then you should have the means to pay for what ever you want within your budget,
      No one gets rich off of credit card rewards , the only reason the banks offer this service is to lure you into the debt in the first place.

      The credit companies reLly know our habits and they know what to offer to get you to take the bait.

      LOL

      1. Jose Cuervo says:

        Dave,
        You need to understand that people that pay off the cards entirely every month do get a little kick back. I just cashed in $1000 from Capitol One. I travel a lot for work and cash isn’t really on option for motels, airline tickets, or rental cars. Not to mention using a credit card usually guarantees a receipt which I need for accounting. Also, kind of hard to use cash for online purchases. I love cash but Dave Ramsey is dead wrong on some of his ideas. He’s geared more for fiscally irresponsible people rather than people who can live within their means.

  14. Jamie Dickinson @ YourSavingAngels says:

    We try to be responsible with our money and as such I hope that is reflected in our credit scores. To me I don’t really want to borrow more money the only exception to that is a mortgage in the future, so in that sense it’s fairly important – however we’re not doing anything more than we would be normally.

    You are completely right about credit and young people and it seems fairly absurd.

    1. Unfortunately, being responsible with your money (ie: less/no debt) often reflects poorly in your credit score. That is one of my major problems with the metric.

      Keep up the good work and thanks for stopping by!

  15. Mandy @MoneyMasterMom says:

    We keep an eye on our credit score just so we have good lending options if we want to borrow for investing. Fear is one of the best motivators around, great job deflating some of the fear credit score myths out there.

    1. Thanks Mandy!

      I think one of the other myths about the score is that you need it to get a loan. Sure, they will look at it. However, a bank would be crazy not to give you a loan if you don’t have/use any debt. Usually, you can still get a loan if you talk to a local lender.

      1. LeRainDrop says:

        But see JD Roth’s post on More Than Money yesterday — he ended up having to pay cash for a new condo because he couldn’t get approval for a mortgage.

        1. That is a good point!

          But maybe it’s a good thing that we use credit cards. If we didn’t, we would just have our lone mortgage on our credit report since that is our only loan. I want to keep my credit score over 750 so that I can get the best rewards deals but that’s about it!!!

  16. I think one time, about five years ago, I paid to see what my score was. Ever since then, I just check our reports through the free credit tool. If we have our credit score checked by a lender (last time was for our mortgage re-fi), they will tell us our credit score, and I am certain that as long as we keep our credit report in good shape, we’ll also be in that same range (we’re always in the 790-820 range). You’re right, paying for your credit score is usually quite unnecessary.

    1. It is always a good idea to check your credit report to make sure that everything lines up!

  17. I personally care about my credit score. I don’t want to have to worry about not being able to get the best cash back credit card (I needs those rewards!) and being denied for a loan. You never really know when you might need to get a loan and if your score is low, then you are going to paying a lot more.

    Rich people might have low credit scores, but they also can pay in cash, which is out of reach for most people. Though I think the credit score is a marketing tactic, why not have people strive for something?

    Since you can’t “quickly” increase your credit score without doing some work, then why not strive for a high one and make sure you keep it there? If you needed a loan and haven’t checked your score in a long time, what happens if you find out that you can’t get a loan due to a bad score. You would be out of luck until you could get your score higher.

    1. Actually, if you don’t have any debt, and pay your bills on time, you should be able to get a loan easy peesy. One of my major problems with the credit score is that it punishes you for pursuing financially sound options (ie: not accruing debt).

      Mind you, I’m not saying go out and blow your credit score to smitherines. Keep an eye on it. But, once you are debt free, who cares? Pay cash.

  18. I have an excellent credit score and do my best to maintain it. Fair or not, your credit score is used in many aspects of life (like car insurance). So might as well do my best to make sure mine is high and I get the best rates.

    That being said I don’t really monitor mine all that closely since it flucuates a few points up and down…

    1. True. Some insurance companies may use your score for insurance costs. There is nothing wrong with having a high score. I have one myself. But, I’m not going to go take out loans or keep balances on my credit cards to keep it high. That is playing with fire…and it is wrong. The credit score isn’t a measure of your financial health. It is a measure of your ability to pay back debt.

      1. Brian makes a good point. Not only is it used in deciding how much to charge for insurance, employers also check it to decide if you are a good risk to hire! No, it isn’t fair, and yes I agree it is not a valid measure of a person’s financial smarts. However, report cards in school are not a good measure of our intelligence either. I’ve only checked my score once, this year and it was super high.

        1. Are you suggesting that somebody go into debt in order to change jobs? I just don’t see that as a valid argument to play their game. That is another reason a bank will tell you to increase your credit.

          Sure, some employers will check your credit. However, they have to have a valid reason. Plus, you have to give them permission to do so since each inquiry affects your score (another stupid rule). If you have a low score due to not using credit, simply tell them that you don’t have debt and don’t use credit. That should be enough to satisfy them that you can handle money.

        2. Employers honestly don’t really even bother to check credit scores anymore. It costs them a lot more money to pull these credit checks. Also, given the horrible economic conditions the past 6 years, they realize that almost everyone has a crap credit score due to getting rammed by the banksters and the economy. It doesn’t have the same bad stigma attached to it like it would pre-recession. Unless the job is specifically in finance, the chances of any employer checking your credit are EXTREMELY low. I was a recruiter for many years, so I know this first hand. I read a survey recently that out of 100 employers, maybe only 5 or 6 will check your credit.

  19. I have a great story surrounding my credit score. A benefit I did not see coming when we became debt-free and pledge never to borrow money again was… being able to not have a moment’s hesitation when a company tries to bully you using the “credit score” scare tactic. Twice in the last four years I have been hassled to pay a bill I did not owe, and both times I was able to genuinely get a good laugh over the threat of ruining my score. Thats a great feeling.

    Now I would NOT say, “go ahead and pay off all your debt and then you can not pay your bills and it won’t affect your credit score”… but when you legitimately don’t owe something, they cannot harm you by reporting it, because you don’t borrow!!

    1. Exactly. When you are in debt, you are beholden to someone else’s rules. I love your story!

  20. Interesting and informative post! I keep up with my score since we’ll probably get a house loan once we figure out where we’ll settle, but I do agree with your thinking that credit = debt!

    1. It is pretty tough not to get a home loan. However, it is possible to pay cash for a house:) You can do it!

  21. Well said Greg. Credit scores are pretty much the leash that the industry uses to yank people along and buy more stuff. On top of that not only do they lower your credit score but if you don’t use your credit over time they will penalize you with fees as well. To me it’s kind of like crack for your finances, once they get you hooked on spending and using it all the time they hit you up with the fee and high interest charges.

  22. I agree, I don’t really care. The only thing I check is to ensure that all credit being reported is in fact mine since I have had fraudulent activities on it before. Ironically enough since we’ve entered a DMP we’ve received more credit card/loan offers than ever.

    1. Of course you have. They want to keep you addicted.

  23. You made some excellent points. It’s sad that they target us when we’re basically still vulnerable kids with the allure of credit cards. We do have that mindset of buy now and pay later. I absolutely agree that the best thing is to pay off debt then only buy things you can afford without incurring any debt going forward. I do still think people need to check their credit scores/history to make sure there are no mistakes.

    1. You definitely want to check your credit reports to make sure that there are no errors. That is one good way to protect yourself from identity theft.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  24. Inever paid attention to my credit score until I was turned down for a line of credit 27 years ago. It turned out that a department store erroneously reported a charge off to my account. It took 6 months to correct my report. I handle my finances very responsibly and I never really think about my score. I only have a small amount of debt (small mortgage & car loan) which will be paid off in about 4 years. My good score helped me get the best rates, Although I agree no to worry about it, you still need to check it periodically.

    1. I definitely would advise checking your credit report as that will tell you whether or not there are errors/somebody opening accounts in your name. The score itself is a bunch of hogwash though. That is only a metric used to determine how well you handle debt and if you are a good risk to lend money to.

  25. I hate the credit score and the whole system. My brother is going to buy a house and pay it off in less than 5 years. But he can’t get a small loan because he doesn’t have credit history. He was told he has to buy something on a credit card and LET THE BALANCE REVOLVE to get a score?!?! WTF? I mean seriously, you have to pay credit card interest to satisfy the credit gods to show you are responsible with your money? It’s just the opposite. Any numbskull who let’s a balanace on a credit card revolve to build credit should be DENIED a loan for not understanding second grade math.

    Obviously this subject gets me fired up. Ugh, it kills me!

    1. Pretty much. That is trap that they want you to fall into. They want to have dependable, repeat customers – not people who are good with their money. They can’t harvest those last few dollars of profit otherwise!

  26. I love this post, Greg. I have a question, though. Would you use credit to buy another rental property if the deal were right, or are you really not buying anything at all with debt?

    1. Maybe. And since our credit scores are in the mid 700’s, it wouldn’t be a problem to borrow money. Right now I don’t see us buying another rental in the next 4 or 5 years. We just don’t have the time to deal with it.

    2. That is something that we have been talking about. For me, I would rather not. I would rather buy it with cash, at a good price, and then use the cash flow. Holly likes the concept of the tenants paying off the mortgage. I do too, and it is great…until something goes wrong.

      However, I look at business debt a little bit differently than I look at personal debt. Yet, I wouldn’t take out a $100,000 loan to invest it in the stock market. So, the answer is…I don’t know. We are going to have to make that decision over the next few years.

  27. Justin@TheFrugalPath says:

    While I’m not a fan of debt, in the industry that I’m headed into a good FICO score is important requirement of being considered for a job. The company wouldn’t want me to handle their money if I can’t handle my own and the only metric they have to gauge that would be my FICO score.

    1. That is fair enough. I guess you better watch your score then, even though that is a terrible metric to use. Unfortunately, they can’t ask you how much debt you have personally, so you don’t have that to fall back on.

  28. We can get our free credit reports in Canada from all 4 bureaus but it won’t come with the score. I could care less about the score as I know we are in good standing. What I am more concerned about is checking my credit history. Has anyone stolen my identity and used credit in my name. Are all of the credit hits accurate? Is my info accurate? It’s worth it to me to check it for free once a year, we have nothing to lose but time filling out a simple form.

    1. Bingo! Absolutely! We check our reports every year as well. When it comes to credit, that is the main thing everybody should be worried about, in my humble opinion.

  29. I don’t know my credit score. My bank told me it was “good” when I got my mortgage but I never got any details out of them. I would like to see my credit report though – it’s been on my list of things to do for a while.

  30. I also never really understood the big deal about credit scores. I’ve never paid any attention to mine, but instead just focused on paying bills on time and staying clear from debt.

    So, when it came time to take out a home loan, I was a little uneasy b/c I had no idea what my credit score would be. Even without ever trying, my score was over 760, which easily qualified me for having “good credit”. I was able to secure a low interest rate, just like that.

    Build up your investments, pay off your debts, and pay your bills on time. That’s it. The good credit score will take care of itself. And it’s unlikely you’ll even notice the difference between a 700 or 760 score… Definitely not worth the effort to try and improve…

  31. Excellent post. You are correct, we have been sold a line by the lenders. Credit=Debt, pure and simple.

  32. Certainly an interesting take on how one should view their credit score. My main issue with this post is that it’s not based within any degree of reality.

    I completely understand that people should not go into debt just because they have the ability to do so. However, I strongly disagree with the notion that people should not care about their credit scores. A growing number of potential employers will check your credit to assess their risk for various scenarios. It is virtually impossible to rent, let alone buy, a residence without having a good credit score. I feel confident in saying that nearly 100 percent of working Americans want to either buy or rent a residence during their lifetime. Trying to rent or buy without a credit rating is very difficult and could be downright impossible in some markets.

    Greg, your comment about the credit score being a “terrible metric” for hiring staff couldn’t be further from the truth. I consulted to a human resources firm for over 16 years and you would be surprised to learn the correlation between poor credit scores and poor staff. There isn’t enough space on this page for me to point out why credit scores are absolutely important to hiring new staff. It is an excellent metric to use particularly when you’re dealing with staff members that deal with finance, cash and security related jobs.

    If the purpose of this post was to observe a contrarian view of the credit scoring system; you’ve succeeded. However if the post was designed to help a normal person understand the reality of the credit scoring system; with respect, you’ve missed the mark. It’s easy to say that “I don’t care about my credit score” when you have a score of 800 or higher. It’s no different than the rich person we all know that says, “I don’t care about money.” If we take that person’s money away, do you think they make the same statement?

    1. Ethel, thanks for stopping by to promote your credit score website! I’m sure that your feelings on the topic are in no way influenced by the site you are promoting. I especially love the scare tactics about job searches and insurance. That is good stuff! As a landlord, I rent almost exclusively to people with bad credit. Oh, and if you took my credit score away, I really wouldn’t care because I don’t need debt to buy things.

      Thanks for your comment and good luck with your site!

      1. For the record, credit score resource.com is an advice website. I have no promotional links, I do not represent any credit reporting agency and I have no affiliate links on the website. My website is manned by volunteer credit counsellors.

        My main reason for commenting on your blog is to give real people a moment of pause. Your message is irresponsible particularly to younger people.

        This post is simplistic and quite frankly delusional in the real world. Not only is the post contrarian but you contradict yourself within the post itself. You can not attain a credit score of 800 without using some form of significant credit in the past. This is an interesting statement at the end of your post:

        “I am resolved not to no longer use debt”

        Aside from the poor grammar; this would imply that you have used credit in the past. That contradicts your post. So it’s easy to say that you’ll no longer use credit, because you’ve already use it to achieve whatever you have. (ie a car, a home, a great website, etc.)

        Your message does not resonate with most people in this country. It would be nice to live off of the land but that’s not reality.

        A website that has been featured on Dr. Phil and Oprah is not a website in need of promotion on your site Greg. Don’t flatter yourself.

        1. Geez Ethel. There’s no reason to come to our blog and be nasty. Relax.

        2. Good catch on the grammar.

          Oh, and nobody said go out and be irresponsible with money in order to blow up your credit. This is a website about being responsible and accountable with your money. I’m simply stating that the credit score is a scare tactic used by bankers to get you to purchase more of what they are selling – debt. I don’t mind the disagreement, but being rude and dropping links to your articles in my comments section isn’t very cool. That seems like self-promotion to me.

          1. I don’t view the truth as being rude or nasty.

            This statement: “Oh, and nobody said go out and be irresponsible with money in order to blow up your credit.”

            I agree. How is this related to what I said? Did I insinuate this in some way?

            I feel that is irresponsible to broadcasts these kinds of beliefs when you wholeheartedly admit that you’ve used credit in the past. (Based upon your 800 credit score, you’ve used significant amounts)

            I think I addressed the promotion bit in my previous comment but if you’re so concerned about links pointing to other sites, perhaps you might consider removing the plugin from your site that creates them.

            If you can find me an average 21 year old that has graduated from school that needs a place to rent and ultimately a place to own that does not require some form of established credit, I’ll take my comments back.

            You’re obviously past this stage in your life but that doesn’t give you the right denigrate a system that is designed to protect consumers and creditors, especially when you’ve used this system for your own personal gain. With respect, this seems hypocritical to me and somewhat negligent.

            The issue is not the credit scoring system. The issue is good fiscal responsibility and restraint. These are two distinct issues.

            I think you and your wife are being defensive and not looking at the whole picture. If you had never borrowed a dime, I wouldn’t have said a word.

            Thanks for replying back.

          2. This whole conversation is really weird…and I have to question why you care so much about what we write on our own blog. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. It’s that simple.

          3. I care because what you’ve written is absolutely wrong. It’s that simple.

          4. At Club Thrifty, we write about personal accountability. We write about living within our means and not using debt to fund a lifestyle we cannot afford. We write about other topics as well, and we always make sure to write 100% from our point of view. What you’re reading is 100% our opinion and the way we see things. For what it’s worth, your opinion has been noted as well.

            Other than that, I’m just honored that someone who has been mentioned by Dr. Phil and Oprah bothered to stop by and comment at all. =)

        3. I am not sure how things work in the US but here in the UK landlords get no legal access to someones credit score. They can check if you had an CCJ’s (County Court Judgements) but that’s about it. Also, unless you want to work in certain financial jobs, you don’t get checked and if you do, they just are allowed to check if you had any CCJ’s – not your score because a low score might just mean that you have no debt at all.

          If this is how things work in the US (that landlords and employers are allowed to check your score – which is different from checking if you had any CCJ’s) then it just shows how corrupt this system is and that it urgently needs changing. Of course, you can keep banging on about reality or you can just try and advocate for change. The fact that renting is so expensive is in itself a crime. Having a roof over your head should be a basic human rights. The banks don’t just push people in to debt under the false pretense of freedom but also push house prices up by lending more and more.

          After the last financial crisis a lot of peoples credit score has worsened anyway – a lot of people literally had no choice, they had to choose between eating and looking after their credit score. I know what I would choose.

    2. I think the rich person would say yes to “taking the money away” statement because they can make it back.

  33. Silent Cal says:

    I’d like to tell Ethel that we own our small home outright and if we decide to sell and buy another we can pay cash for it, and if we do any financing it will be through our bank or credit union. No, we aren’t rich, I’m 59 and haven’t worked in four years, but we do have over 6 figures in 3-4 institutions. We tend to drive cars on average 17-20 years after we purchase them new. Now, I keep getting these spam/scam e-mails saying my credit rating has dropped here in the last week. That is because I carry minimal or no balance on credit cards, am able to pay them off at first notice. So I am content, Ethel, telling you I DON’T CARE about my credit rating(look forward to drawing SS in three years and MAYBE supplement it with my ira). This is the most rational site dealing with this topic I have run across.

    1. Yay! Finally a voice of reason on the subject. Thank you thank you thank you! Why should you care about your credit score? The answer: you shouldn’t!

      Great job!

    2. Peter Crowtman says:

      @Silent Cal: Owning a house outright at age 59 is not a miraculous situation; accomplishing that by the age of 28 with no credit is amazing.

      You should have far less credit requirements than someone in their 30’s. Don’t take this the wrong way but someone telling me that I shouldn’t care about my credit or that I shouldn’t be using credit is a total joke to me. I don’t abuse credit but unfortunately, I need it.

      I like what they’re talking about on this site but I can also understand the commenter’s point of view. Why tell someone they don’t need credit when you’re blogging today about a mortgage payment?

      Honestly, I could care less about my credit score. It only matters when I go to buy a house 🙂 I’m 28 years old and unless I win the lottery, I’m going to need credit to buy a house in the next 3 years so I’m not going to be obsessive about it but I am going to be diligent enough to maintain a decent credit score.

      1. True, we’ve used credit as well. I’m actually not against using credit to buy a house, necessarily – although it is possible to buy a house without using credit. It is also possible to go to college without using loans. However, many people – including us – buy more than we really need or can afford because of the credit that is available to us. The credit score system is a joke. It is a way for banks to keep you in debt. Honestly, as long as you pay your bills on time and don’t default, you are going to end up with a decent credit score anyway. There is no need to play the bank’s game or buy into their threats. There isn’t much that you can’t buy with a 720 score that you can with an 800.

        Thanks for stopping by! We appreciate the comment.

      2. Gary Zaugg says:

        Interesting post. I’m going to have to agree with Ethel and Peter on this one as well.

        The post is quite “lofty” in my opinion and somewhat hypocritical. It’s kind of like saying that you shouldn’t drink or do drugs the day after you’ve had a major binge.

        There’s a myriad of reasons why it’s important to be aware of and maintain a high credit score. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet folks; I’ve been a financial advisor with Raymond James for over 21 years and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat across from people that weren’t more diligent about maintaining a high credit score. Whether you need money or if you simply have to qualify for a certain service, having a high credit score and strong credit history is more important now than it was when I first started advising clients.

        For the record, we actually direct many of our customers to Ethel’s website because she advocates financial responsibility. Based upon the post and some of the comments I’ve read, some of the beliefs listed are quite unrealistic and irresponsible.

        If I can emphasize one point; take the time to meet an actual certified financial planner/adviser that can help you make sound financial decisions. A certified financial planner will offer advice that would be in stark contrast to many of the points listed in this post.

        Maintaining a high credit score is important and (contrary to the beliefs listed in the post and comments) you don’t have to be in debt to do it.

        1. hey club thrifty, you need a policy of not letting people advertise their stuff in your comment section.

      3. “ A growing number of potential employers will check your credit to assess their risk for various scenarios. “

        To assess their risk… which is somehow reduced when people demonstrate that they are mathematically inept ?

        I expect to be hired based on my professional track record and the references I have accumulated over the course of my career. I don’t have a credit score and I don’t want one. If you prefer to hire someone based on the fact that they are willing to pay a premium on not being able to budget and save, then go right ahead and do so. Somehow I have never had that issue.

        With regards to renting, people’s attitudes change measurably when you are willing to pay a deposit up front and leave it with them until trust is established. Where do you get the money? You save it by not having to service debt in the first place. Tell me if you struggle with that concept, I do understand that it’s a revolutionary idea.

        By the time you are ready to buy something, rest assured that your bank knows full well that someone who lives below their means is less risk than someone who lives above them. In the real world, human relations trump algorithms.

        I’m not going to dispute the correlation between poor staff and poor credit because someone who pays their debts on time is obviously a better choice than someone who doesn’t. Having said that, guess what? Someone who never got into debt in the first place is an even better choice, I’m surprised you missed that with your human resources expertise.

        “ However if the post was designed to help a normal person understand the reality of the credit scoring system; with respect, you’ve missed the mark “

        He did miss the mark, slightly. That can be easily remedied by using more appropriate terminology, such as “scam”, “thieves” and “con artists”.

        “ My main reason for commenting on your blog is to give real people a moment of pause. Your message is irresponsible particularly to younger people.”

        “Counselling” them on how to best navigate a system designed to rob them blind on the other hand is responsible. So is mailing them pre-approved credit cards. I get where you are coming from, I really do. Most drug dealers do as well.

        “ …but that doesn’t give you the right denigrate a system that is designed to protect consumers and creditors. “

        The only way a similar system can protect consumers is by disappearing altogether.

  34. I have a VERY bad credit score, I am unemployed for 2 + years now, owe 80,000 in school debt, owe the IRS 15,000, no savings, no retirement, and still can’t find a job. If I get a job that pays minimum or slightly above, I’m basically still non-self- sufficient. I have family that I’m living with but a guy with a BS in business @ 38 and is seriously in debt, really sees no way to climb out. Am I at the END?

    1. Hey Topher,

      I’m sorry about your circumstances. Have you sought out any help with your financial issues? Obviously, you’ve got an income crisis at the moment. I would suggest finding a job, any job, to start building that income back up. If you are in default, you may be able to negotiate with your creditors for pennies on the dollar. Unfortunately, that usually doesn’t work with the IRS or school loans. You may want to seek help from a financial professional or even a credit counselor who can really dig into your personal situation.

      I’m sorry for where you are at right now, but I wish you luck as you try to pull yourself out of this! We hope you will hang around here, and maybe we can help to encourage you as well!

  35. We are debt free but I was under the impression that a good credit score helped you to get better rates on auto insurance and even impact if you are able to get a cell phone contract or not. What do you know about this? Also, I would like to know the answer to this for my teenager – I am trying to advise him financially. Thank you.

    1. Your credit score can definitely impact auto insurance rates. However, the point of this article is to point out that you shouldn’t stay in debt to boost your credit rating. Also, there is no prize for having a credit score of 850. Just paying your bills on time should keep you solidly in the 700’s and deemed as having “good credit.” Having good credit is important, but going to extreme measures to keep your score over 800 is pointless.

  36. Note that credit can be used to your advantage. Example: rather than spending my paycheque paying everything as it comes due, I put it on my credit card. At the end of the month I pay off the entire balance. I have paid no interest, but I come out on top because my money has stayed in a high interest savings account for the month GAINING interest. Depending on your monthly expenses, this could add up. Not to mention there are cards that provide benefits (points, air miles, etc) for using them.

    Don’t tell people to not use credit, tell them to learn how to effectively manage credit and it can be a great tool.

    1. You are an owned pawn. Congratulations on being what lenders rely on with the formula. Anyone who says “manage credit effectively” should be disqualified from giving anyone financial advice. You might as well say “fall in-line, attach your number and assimilate the the system… resistance is futile”.

      What if I don’t want or need debt? What if I don’t care to pay the bank extra or pay additional deposits or increased cost of goods and services for paying cash? Banks don’t like people paying cash. They like tools who learn to “manage their credit effectively”.

      Besides, it’s clear your comment is ideologically driven and not in tune with reality because you mentioned your “high interest savings account”… Ha! What ya gettin’? 1-2%? Now, if you had said gains on investment accounts you wouldn’t have destroyed all credibility.

      1. Todd,

        No reason to be rude. You can engage in a conversation without slinging mud.

  37. I am both suprised and happy to know there are others who feel this way. I don’t own a credit card and never will! And yet have horrible credit because of some outstanding medical bills that were sent to collections, medical bills that came from an unexpected diagnoses of stage 4 cancer when I was 19 and living on my own, treatment which I completed. Heh! It wasn’t like I splurged on shoes or clothing! And yet THIS affected my “credit score”. Amazing. Anyway, when I was younger the concept of credit, and credit cards never made sense to me. I would hear adults talk about it as if their lives depended on it. It was bizarre to me. Why would you buy things that you can’t even afford?! What is so unconventional about living within our means? I didn’t get it then; I don’t get it now. Live within your means. And be grateful for what you do have.

    1. James Marvek says:

      Retire, and tell em all to go to heck!

  38. Spot on right here, Greg. My spouse and i labored for a long time with private in addition to home loan credit, in addition to youngster, do our face twinkle if we noticed those above 750 quantities. The item needed everyone decades to understand what you mentioned in regards to a excellent credit rating that means you’ll be able to take care of a lot of personal debt. Even though My spouse and i recognize so it make a difference to your own home loan approval/rate, in the event you’ve obtained an excellent chunk of dollars which you’re getting lower, you’ll most likely obtain the reduce charge irrespective of your own credit rating, unless your own credit score is completely removed.

    http://www.swagrobot.com

  39. I found this to be exactly true.
    I have paid off my house, cars, evrything…
    And for the last 2 years have paid my credit cards to a zero balance each month.
    This I found also affects your score.,,credit card companies earning nothing on your purchases.
    I make almost 300K salary and my score is now below 700.!!
    But now I could care less.

  40. Well, here’s how the credit rating system hurts the frugal:

    Paid all my credit cards down to zero about six years ago, made massive payments on student loans since and have dwindles them down. I make $2000 per month with a paid off car and student loan payments of $150 per month, which constitutes my only debt. Car paid off, credit cards paid off, etc. Disposable income per month is in the neighborhood of 1500-1700 dollars monthly.

    But recent medical problems forced me to deplete my savings, and an unfortunate turn of events with respect to the building I live in means I have to act fast to be out in less than three weeks. Found a used mobile home for sale at $6500, but don’t have the cash. My credit score? 620 and I can’t get one lending institution to loan me the $6500 to make the purchase.

    In trying to be frugal by paying down my debt, I shot myself in the foot and now I have almost no choice but to turn to family for financing, or move into an apartment (if that’s even possible at this point).

    If I had a few months, I could easily save enough cash for the purchase. I can’t, and the banks consider me a credit risk!

    1. Ouch! That sucks Ben. I’m sorry to hear about your medical problems. Are you earning any money currently? Have you tried a locally owned bank or credit union? Banks and bankers based in the community tend to give a people a little more leeway under these circumstances. I’d show them your history of bill payment when you talk to them as well. However, in all honesty, I’d probably go the apartment route until you get back on your feet though.
      I hope things improve for you and keep us posted.

    2. another possibility is to rent a house directly from the homeowner. Apartments are becoming big businesses that be inflexible with low credit scores, but a house owner can rent to you if you show previous good record of paying your rent. try craigslist in your area.

  41. Betty well stated. I would like to say the is in fact fine line here. Though the use of credit is truly evil, it is a necessary evil to an extent. You’ll need a good credit score for jobs and just simply getting a start in life. Assume you used your credit worthiness responsibly and you’ve aquired the basics. Cheap car and your first small house. To me this the time to say no more credit in my life. In my opinion you could save up for any other purchases with a little discipline all while paying off your car quickly and paying down your mortgage. Once those are paid you now have a savings and equity to work with and should never need credit again.

  42. I agree with this article completely! In 2010 I was in debt a little over $100k with a credit score of 800+ and now that I’ve paid off more than $100k with only $19,000 remaining on the mortgage, my credit score has dropped down to about 600. An 800+ score cost me over $100k. Just not worth it, and useless. I’d rather build my wealth than my credit score!

  43. Most of you people are Liars or Deadbeats.Reading most of your Reply are like reading campground reviews since I have a RV Bus that I be a snowbird with.My last credit score as of July 2015 is 837 and i have no credit card debt,I use credit card to my advantage not theirs.

    1. You sir would be the liar. No way your score is above 800 with no active balances. Knowing the secret sauce, the FICO 9 formula recalculation of 2014 to reduce the impact of medical debt, I can assure you that carrying $0 balances or under two open lines (or more than 4) will not allow your score to get above 800 unless you are in special databases the big three agencies hold exclusively for the wealthy and celebrities who they do not expect to hold open lines of credit like common consumers.

  44. I could care less about my credit . In fact I laugh when Im told of a debt I owe that I really dont. My social security number is out there in “hackland” but after I refused to pay an 800 dollar Emergency Room Visit bill that wasnt mine Ive had no further problems. its possible that the “powers that be ”
    refuse to use my social security number. I may be on the ” this dude wont pay up list. I hope so.

  45. I’m 27 years old, with no children, working diligently for $8.00 and hour. I receive no government assistance and I rent my apartment with three roommates. I have a multitude of student loan debt and medical expenses that I simply cannot afford.
    My credit score is very low (520), though it was lower (397) at one time. Debt eventually dropped off here and there. It is clear that I do not care about my credit score. I just don’t see your actions reflecting the same mindset.

    1. Hey Abbie,
      I think you kind of missed the point of the piece. If you’re out of debt and can pay cash for everything, that means you are no longer at the mercy of the bank.

  46. You’re better off with horrible credit. At least someone with bad credit cant go further in debt to a property or car that wont be worth crap in 10 years anyhow.

    I have good credit but refuse to use it. Paid in Full upfront and not financing is the only way to go.

  47. Hi Greg! Great article. The reason I found it was because I googled ‘FICO crap’.
    Here’s my story…I’ll try to condense it. I am 64 years old and since the time I started getting bills in my early twenties, I have been a total nerd…very responsible. As a matter of fact, I can say that I have NEVER been late paying a bill, not even a utility bill. Never late, that is until I had a renter who bailed on me 3 months earlier than her lease’s end, last year and I had already spent my retirement savings to stay afloat after losing my job in 2010 after the economic collapse and had nowhere to go.

    Here’s the deal…I missed 3 payments on my condo mortgage but then, soon after, became current. So, my FICO score went way down into the low 600’s and is now at 700. I disregard that as I am probably the least risky borrower of just about anyone because of my integrity and character.

    I actually could have foreclosed, consolidated debt or filed bankruptcy, none of which I have ever done…instead, I continue to pay the debt I accrued after a job loss. I haven’t purchased a luxury in 8 years. My number one goal is to be debt free but it will be a long while because of the sub prime debacle induced unemployment.

    I’ve now been employed again after 2 years of joblessness (30 year career before that) and I get SS benefits. Some would say I’m a poor risk but I know much better than that…the way I feel about myself and my reliability and responsible nature means more to me than any credit score. They have lumped me into a category where I don’t fit….it kind of boggles my mind. I’ve never stiffed anyone in my life and watch in horror as others can feel good about themselves after being serial bankruptcy filers….I’m not condemning all who file…some have good reasons…medical crises, etc.

  48. I retired from the state a year ago with full benefits, no mortgages, or payments. I am getting as much not working as when I worked. I have substantial savings that are not invested in risky markets. I have watched my FICO score go down each month with the advice that to improve my score I should take out some installment loans. I have no need for their scores, if I need something I will negotiate the price lower for cash, and purchase it from savings with less cost than someone getting investment earnings on a 0% interest on a 5 or 10 year loan.

  49. This is an old article but presents a somewhat incorrect definition of the banks use and purpose of credit scores. It’s true that we should not let our lives be controlled by a FICO score but for a much more ominous reason: The FICO score is not really formulated to determine how much “risk” you are to a lender although that is occasionally how it is used (by parties other than banks). The score is really designed to determine how profitable you will be to a lender in terms of guaranteed recurring revenue.

    I won’t get into the details of how I know this personally, you can prove this yourself. Here’s how: Pay off all but one credit card. Now you’ve paid down your outstanding debt balance to the banks and you’ve done it early! You’re a responsible borrower right? Not as far as the bank’s concerned. You’ve just become a bad customer. They had that additional interest you were supposed to carry at a minimum 30% balance projected on the books. Sorry but no FICO points for your responsible move… your score’s goin’ DOWN!

    By reducing open lines of credit below 30% and not carrying at least two lines of unsecured debt you will decrease your score. You are not as profitable to the banks without carrying debt. It is by no means a measure of ability or willingness to pay debt (i.e. “risk”), it is a measure of how predictable you are with regards to projected earned interest calculated at the 30% balance threshold.

    This is the reason more people should be petitioning and pushing for legislation that removes the FICO score from consideration when applying for insurance, jobs, rentals etc. Paying off your debt and carry none, the responsible thing to do, will get you punished. Your FICO score will go down and these entities relying on this score as a measure of “risk” and responsibility will consider you a bigger deadbeat than the guy carrying 20 to 40% open balances. Don’t think it’s true? Check it out. Trust but verify.

    The banks and lenders absolutely love that these parties outside of the financial service and loan industries are paying the big three reporting agencies to use their scores as a measure of “risk”. This means people will open lines of credit, hold them open with interest so they can go get a t-shirt proudly proclaiming their stellar score. Evil genius really. You either pay the banks interest on open balances or you pay your insurance company a higher premium or a landlord or utility a higher deposit. You lose or you lose. Either way you will pay.

    Meanwhile banksters and Wall St. thugs wonder why they’ve replaced lawyers as the most hated professionals that dare walk among us. They’ve engineered revenue obedience for all, rich and poor, through their magical, threatening, life controlling number invented by “Fair” Issac.

    You may now throw up.

  50. It’s really nice of the millionaires Greg and Holly to deliver words of wisdom to people well below their paygrade.

    1. Thanks for stopping by John! While I appreciate your high opinion of our net worth, I simply wish it was true. Of course, if you take the time to read/listen, you might actually pick up a few things that work. Or, maybe you think it’s best to follow money tips from people who are broke.

  51. Man I couldn’t agree with you more! I too, was a sucker for the “gotta have a high score” for years until I learned that no matter what I did (right or wrong), it just didn’t matter. I already own my home and vehicles, insurance(s), etc. so ‘forget about it’ I say. I asked an auto insurer if they used or calculated my FICA score in my rate estimate and they quietly said yes. To this I replied with “no problem” and walked out to another company. Eventually I found one (many don’t care) that didn’t use FICA scores and found a very good deal.
    I will say that I do use a credit card, mostly overseas, as many places will require it. The trick is to pay off the charges immediately.

    1. why pay it off though if you don’t care about your credit score? other than keeping your obligations. I think you still secretly care about keeping it good.

  52. To see if you’re really not caring about your credit score, ring up a big debt on your credit cards and default. Free money! Unless you get a judgement and wind up paying through garnishment. But I lost my job, and couldn’t pay. So the banks wrote me off, and I psychologically wrote them off. Credit score sucks, but I don’t care! I got a couple of judgements, but I’m still not paying! Thank goodness for modern cell phones, they can call me all they want, and I find it very easy to ignore them.

    1. Or course, I don’t really think this guy would do this, because he’s got his need good credit 3 houses already, just my point is it’s easy to say you don’t care if you don’t need credit.

    2. JohnJacobJingle says:

      The next question is….. Do you want your wages garnished when you obtain your next job? The answer to this is….. Grab an under the table job! “You want to be free? Just do it illegally!” lol I don’t give a rat’s ass about credit scores either! One can claim that you need them, but then I reply with my middle finger. Their reply then is, “Oh, he is just a little stinker!” No, I’m just a free thinker! lmao

  53. My credit score is driving me nuts…i lost my job about 6 years ago..some things went into collections but i paid them all off over 4 years ago. I have been trying to re-establish my credit score since…5 years of no missed payments and my score is still in the low 600’s. Its frustrating because i make good money and no matter what i do it seems my score is just hanging in the wind doing nothing!

      1. Banks just love to punish people who had problems in the past and keep them in the penalty box. If they had their way, the poor houses of Dickensian England would promptly be reinstated, with all the horrors and abuses they entailed. People who had debt problems or went bankrupt would be forever punished and never allowed to move on with their lives and rebuild.

        You have to wonder why they seem to have a need to get their pound of flesh and then some, which is crazy, because they borrow at rates below prime and lend it out at handsome rates of interest – AND – they still manage to keep their loss rate below 2% regardless of economic conditions. It’s almost like getting free money and lending it out at huge rates of interest and they’ve done nothing in return for the borrowers other than grace them with the magnanimous decision to lend them some money. There’s a word for this, it’s called usury.

        Banksters are evil. All of them deserve to get stuffed, and hard. If people did as you recommend in your book then the tables could be turned and the banks would be kept in a penalty box forever and a day. Doubt they’d like it.

  54. Ugh! I don’t think there’s anyone that gets more upset than I do when it comes to the topic of “credit”. I’ve never had so much hate towards anything else in my life. I’ve made up my mind to not fix my credit, not get more credit (which I probably can’t anyway), etc. basically not give a shit about credit. I have a friend who’s a mortgage underwrite 3 and he says I. Ant live like that and that I’ll need credit when I’m ready to buy a house. Really? If I’ve worked my ass off and saved my money for years , why can’t I buy a house cash? Why can’t I buy a car cash? He said they are still going to check my credit for large purchases even if I’m paying cash (IRS purposes). If I’m buying cash, I promise you, you are not checking my credit to determine if I can use my own cash. I won’t lie, sometimes i feel as if I can’t do anything without having perfect credit. Whether to Start a business, Buy a car, get a house and sometimes even to get a good job. I was shocked when I heard some jobs check credit. I Might as well just stop living since I’m not living for myself. I’m living to pay debt. Oh yeh, my student loan payments start this month. Smh. Can u sense the tone of how much I hate to be alive right now? This is too much at only 22.

  55. Eric Root says:

    I did not read all the comments but there is one factor the writer does not tell anyone. In order to buy a home you have to have good credit, make a lot of money to save enough to pay cash or just be rich. If you want a new car for those of us that have real jobs that pay real world amounts you have to have good credit. I would love to live without debt and not have to worry about credit but I am obviously not as fortunate as the writer and able to have a home or buy a new car without it.

  56. I like to have a high score despite not needing to use credit. I am surprised that banks don’t require letters of recommendation from employers or statements of wealth and passive income to allow mortgages. I will always live well within my means and use my privilege to become passively rich. I figure saving half of my income and accruing intrest and investment and avoiding signifficsnt obligation or liability will be wise. ????

  57. This is exactly my philosophy as well. It is supposed to be an indicator of financial health, but you could easily have a great credit score with 0 room in your budget or have $100k in cash flow a month with a terrible credit score.

    I personally think free cash flow is a better indicator of financial health. How much money is pouring in vs out of your life?

  58. Recently my wife car was almost cost us more to keep running than it was worth, I worked hard to paid off all my debt. I would never get caught up in the credit con game again.
    We needed a car, something reliable and economical to drive. A sweet deal came along but I did not want to rob my savings account to pay for it. When I went to the dealership I was told my credit score was only 704. I said I don’t owe anyone anything, in fact, I pay all my bills on time and my house payment is 6 months ahead. Only last year my score was 754. They said because you pay cash for everything. So I have a low score because I have little or no debt, that right the man said.
    So I drew out $5K put down on the car and will pay it off in a few months when my score goes up.

    1. COMMENTYou are totally wrong about credit scores- they are tallied not by how much debt you have, but how much you are using against what you are allowed. The catch 22 is that the lower your score, the lower your available credit, the more credit it will look like you are using. Also, when you pay off a loan, instead of your score going up, it goes down- like when I just paid off my car. The scoring companies are vile bastards- of course. But people like you with scores of 800 can afford “not to care”. Please don’t peddle that crazy to those of us who are doing the responsible, expected things like managing our credit only to find that we are getting scored royally by doing so.

  59. I wish I was like most of your bloggers but I am not… I have a 750k mortgage on a 1.4 million house in Socal…. I make 160k and my spouse make 90k, we owe 50 k on credit cards and have a a 700 average credit score… I hate the CC companies. I really hate the Credit bureaus.

    I make all my payments on time and pay more than the mins… I have 50k in 401k and 30k in etrade and 10k emergency funds….. Why does the Credit bureaus only want you to pay off 50% of a card? I mean I get 4 points on my score when the amount of the card is between 30 and 50% total due but when I pay off the card I only get 1 point a month?

    The formula sucks, I am a programmer and its hard to figure out all the factors….I was trying to refi my house and need another 20 to 40 points on my Fico to get the best rate? WT Flip? The mortgage guy told me to borrow money to pay off my CC and then get the better rate for cash out refi and use the house money to pay off the CC and other debt…. It like the mortgage and the CC people are working together.

  60. Hi. I came to Canada 4 Yrs ago from Europe. Talking to my banker, “why would I need a credit card if I can pay for everything?” Answer: to build a credit score

    Recently My income stream had a long big dip. (Oilfield isn’t a 9-5 steady business). So I had to lean on my credit cards for a while.

    Result: my credit scores went trough the roof! Now Income is more steady and I don’t need credit (aka debt) credit score is plumbing.

    So basically when I receive my PR status and I want to buy a house, I either need to go in debt and pay the ridiculous amount of 20% interest on money that I already have, or pay a higher interest rate on my mortgage.

    I might not understand it all right, but to me, this is the world upside down!

  61. JACQUELYN oLSEN says:

    My husband and I bought into the propaganda. We got all the credit..house..credit cards..store cards…cars you name it. Now we have lower scores because of our debt to income ratio. We have had to enter a debt management program to help us with the outrageous interest fees. As awful as it is we are lucky in some aspects. One out house interest rate is less than 4%, we have newer reliable cars that will be paid off around the same time as all of our debt, and because we are in public service my student loans will be forgiven eventually. All of this will be taken care of by January 2025. Yes that seems forever away, but its a plan. Right now we are jumping through hoops trying not to have any late payments on our credit reports.

    My question is once this is all taken care of we will have to be smart. Obviously finances aren’t our strong point so what do you do? Having a family of 6 and two public service jobs doesn’t go far when vehicles are pushing $35,000 minimum for a family of our size.

  62. my fiancee and i decided to own a home before tying the knot of marriage.we decided to commingle our credit for mortgage loan.unknowingly to me,he got involved in credit card scam,trading[binary] scam and it wrecked his credit ,leaving it with several inquiries,credit card debts.we involved the police on this issue but the fraud was untraceable.As for me,i have always oblige with the rules of keeping an excellent score by paying on time every bills and that has got me sitting on 812.The reality of this post is ,for ´H A C K M A N I A´ to be referred to me by a lender is a process one should trust,and money refund policy is guaranteed to his clients.He raised his credit score,deleted the inquiries and clear all debts as paid.We communicate so well via his mail H a c k m a n i a_9 at O u t l o o k Com. luciky for us we just got approved.

  63. Mildred Parsons says:

    I appreciate your comments and definitely agree. My thoughts are that credit bureaus are bias. I had an experience with Equifax a few years ago. I closed a credit account and was making regular payments to that company. However I got behind and called them immediately. They reported twice in one month to the credit bureau reporting I was more than 30 days late and was over my credit limit this caused my score to lower by 30 points. I filed a complaint with Equifix and they reported that this was a normal practice…therefore nothing could be done. Credit bureaus cater to merchants not the person who has to live with it. Sure they will listen to your complaints and I don’t know about anyone else but with me they took their time and it was at least 9 months later before I even got a decent response. They are slow to help you but fast to post negative comments and love to post lower scores. I am a senior citizen and gave up on them years ago…I agree just don’t apply for credit and use cash whenever possible. The best card I have is my bank debit card all transactions are from my checking account. I don’t get charged interest and my account is never over limit!

  64. Patrick Stewart says:

    I agree to an extent. The main point of credit goes back to that old saying “if you cannot pay cash for it don’t buy it on credit” for a reason. When you speak on debt you must understand that going into debt means that you are in violation of that old saying. If you spend cash for it you should absolutely use your credit then pay it off in full with your cash that way you still maintain a debt free lifestyle but paying off revolving balances in full which still means your paying cash for everything but at the same time your using your cash to build credit. Now lets get this straight, credit is not only about debt or spending power. Credit also is about pure credibility and can effect more then just debt. Insurance companies decide your rates based on credit, if you need a surety bond for commercial endeavors your credit matters how much you pay for it, some jobs rely heavily on your credit to determine risk such as becoming a police officer, probation officer, judge, District Attorney, Public Defender, Government Inspector, Political Careers, and many more will flat out refuse you employment if you have bad credit or are in major debt because these positions can be prone to bribery and they don’t want some one who is money thirsty because they don’t have credibility or are in debt to be in their ranks because the risk that you can be bribed exists and this risk is real if you have bad credit or revolve your balances which gives you high DTI or debt. So you need to be somewhere in the middle.

    Here is what I do and my scores are in the 700’s

    1. I Spend about 5 to 6 thousand a month on my credit cards and personal lines of credit.
    2. I pay off and zero all balances except one every month and the one i don’t pay in full only has 1 to 200.00 balance or 4% utilization. AZEO
    3. I wash rinse and repeat every month treating all my accounts like true charge cards that must be paid in full regardless to if they can carry a balance or not.

    What this does is allow me to pay cash for everything but use this cycle to also build up my credit. In reality, we don’t have to like the credit game but the bottom line is unless your cash rich credit does matter to some extent and we cannot control the fact that it exists. it is easy not to care if you have unlimited access to cash but most of us don’t have this luxury. What matters more is that you break the cycle of debt by not being irresponsible and overspending and allowing revolving balances. You can live a debt free life while maximizing credit building all at the same time. Doing otherwise is just plain stupid in my opinion. So i would say this:

    1. Cash is not king unless you have plenty of it.
    2. Credit is king because it can provide access to cash.
    3. Using your cash to produce credit and pay off debt is the solution. I.E never spend more in credit then you can pay in full in cash and always pay it in full for effect.
    4. Yields the same results as paying cash for everything yet at the end of the day you build up excellent credit and can increase your access to cash in the hundreds of thousands overtime.
    5. Never revolve big amounts of credit unless what your doing will make revenue. Always stay within your income range so you can pay in full. If you borrow more then that from your credit you better be increasing your revenue making potential so you can pay it off in full ASAP. Failure to follow this rule is what makes debt. \
    6. Having good credit and access does not by itself create debt. Irresponsible spending, carrying revolving balances, not paying in full is what creates debt.

    The reality is this CASH is a byproduct of Labor which is driven by Stable Emotions, CREDIT is a byproduct of Skill which is driven by Mindset, LIFE INSURANCE is more about Life then it is about Death, Creating Multi-Generational WEALTH takes Labor, Stable Emotions, Skill, Mindset, Life and Death!

    Now I call BS on this to the author if this article, you have some credit in order to even have a 800 plus score. You cannot build up a score or even have a score that high without reporting tradelines period…so you sir are not living a completely credit free cash only life style and you cannot claim you are and don’t care about having credit because you cannot have an 800 score without having credit and if you go years and years without getting credit using only cash eventually your scores will go down as tradelines are removed from your report every 7 years or so. It’s the nature of the system and we don’t control that.

    Fact, people who are cash rich and truly don’t care about credit and spend only cash 9 times out of 10 have no credit profile at all because they have lived a cash subsistence lifestyle and therefore have never even gotten a tradeline ever. Spending cash for everything for a lifetime (7 years or more) will yield you a thin if non existent credit profile. There have been many of folk who have lived a cash based life to one day try and buy something on credit only to realize that paying everything with cash hurt them because now they need or want to use credit and cannot because they don’t have any.

    my point is your right about debt but credit is like a gun. A gun kills nobody, it is the person holding the gun that kills. well credit does not put anybody in debt it is how you use it that puts you in debt…

    1. Man you said a mouth full. Same thing I was wondering. A 800+ credit score with “not caring for credit”????? Yea you cared cause if you didn’t , it wouldn’t be that high. lol

  65. Joshua Dent says:

    My credit score is ‘poor’ because I don’t borrow money or go into debt. There’s a big empty space where they want huge piles of debt. I thought being able to pay your own way was supposed to be a good thing? The irony is that if I played credit card games my score would be ‘good’. Basically I’m being called a deadbeat for being honest, forthright and financially responsible. I don’t know why anyone takes them seriously.

  66. Peter Sabatino says:

    I’ve had a credit score of 300 my entire life. I own a home, sold two homes which put close to a million in my pocket, and still my credit is the worst on the planet. I can care less, lol! Banks are only set up to screw you. By the way, I pay 35.00 in car insurance each month because i’m a great driver.

  67. Lots of interesting comments here. Many valid, several downright silly. Credit is a lot like a driver’s license. My car runs fine without me having a driver’s license but I would not want to get caught driving without a valid driver’s license.

    It’s tough for young people who want to own a home. I bought a home when I was young and had a very high credit score. I still have my home but my credit score is in the toilet due to the 2008 crash and loss of employment for several years, a major illness and my age. I needed good credit when I bought my home, but it was useless during a long term emergency I had. I ended up filing for bankruptcy. I also moved into the basement of my home and rented out the upstairs for several years. I worked three partime jobs also, one at a fast food place and I am college educated. It was a very rough for several years. but I managed to hang onto my home and survive the illness. I made keeping my home A TOP PRIORITY. Because of my age and the economy I did not think I would get another chance at home ownership. Today the home is almost paid off and is an asset for my old age. I came through on the other side but my normal is a “new normal now.”

  68. My wife and I have absolutely zero debt – no student loans, we own our two homes mortgage free, own our car loan/lease free, never carry a balance on our credit cards, etc.

    But even though I have zero intention of borrowing money for anything ever, our credit score still matters.

    For example, it affects our insurance rates for both our car and our homes. They ran a credit check to setup utilities.

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