4 Reasons Your Credit Score Still Matters After 50 (and How to Improve it!)
If you were like most people, you probably spent a lot of time in your younger years worrying about your credit rating. After all, this one number had the ability to impact your mortgage, credit cards and car payments.
But, as we get a little bit older, we tend to worry less about our credit rating. I guess we just figure that it just doesn’t matter so much, now that our biggest purchases are behind us.
Well, today, I want to article that there are plenty of reasons to care about your credit rating after 50. Here are just a few ways that having a good credit score can help you, no matter your age.
Refinance Your Mortgage to a Lower Interest Rate
If you purchased your home when rates were high, you may want to refinance your home mortgage to lower your monthly payments.
Of course, you need to have good credit to obtain a lower interest rate on your mortgage because your credit score directly corresponds to the rate you’ll qualify for with most conventional loans.
Talk to a financial advisor to see if refinancing makes sense in your situation.
Get a Reverse Mortgage
A reverse mortgage allows you to withdraw some of your home equity, but, you must undergo a financial assessment to qualify.
The assessment may take your credit history into consideration to determine whether you’d be subject to a Life Expectancy Set-Aside for your homeowner’s insurance and real estate taxes.
In general, the better your credit history, the lower the chances that you’ll be subject to a LESA that could eat into your retirement funds.
Buy a Car (Done Right, This Could Actually Save You Money!)
Whether you’re finally going to buy that convertible, a campervan for a cross-country road trip, or something sensible for getting around town, you’re going to need good credit to receive financing on a new vehicle.
With interest rates currently being so low, several of my friends have decided to sell their big expensive SUVs and to purchase smaller cars at 0% financing.
As a bonus, why not consider an electric vehicle, which may also come with tax rebates or other financial incentives?
Get Better Financing on Medical Bills
Even if you’re perfectly healthy, unexpected medical expenses are a part of life after 50. But if your credit is close to impeccable, hospitals may be willing to negotiate more favorable payment terms with you.
If worst comes to worst, if you have good credit, you can probably take a loan from the bank or get an extension of your credit limit on your credit cards. Of course, no-one wants to be in this situation, but, you just never know what life will throw at you as you get a little older.
If you’d like to boost your credit score in the years leading up to (or during!) retirement, there are several steps you can take.
Monitor Your Credit Report, and Dispute Errors
One of the most important things you can do to maintain good credit is to monitor your credit report so you know where you stand.
AnnualCreditReport.com allows every user one free copy of her credit report from each bureau (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) annually. You can elect to check them all at once or check one bureau every four months. If you see any inaccuracies, dispute them immediately.
Lower Your Credit Balance-to-Limit Ratio
It seems counter-intuitive that having a high credit limit might actually improve your credit score, but, this is actually quite common. What’s the catch? You can’t use all of your credit up!
Some experts recommend that you try to maintain a credit balance that’s 50 percent of your credit limit or lower. This shows your creditors that you are not “maxed out” and that you are responsible with regards to managing your finances.
Don’t Close Every Account
At our age, it’s tempting to start canceling our credit cards and lines of credit. Of course, if you have a debt problem, this can be a good idea. But, if you are in control of your financial situation, you may want to leave some accounts open.
Old accounts in good standing can actually help you to maintain a good credit score — even if you don’t use them very often.
For accounts that charge inactivity fees, consider using them to pay a small monthly fee (such as your cable bill) to keep them in good standing.
Pay Your Bills on Time
This may seem obvious, but, one of the easiest ways to achieve and maintain a good credit score is to simply pay your bills before they’re overdue on a consistent basis. To do this, you can set up automatic bill pay or create calendar reminders to help ensure that you always pay on time.
When you implement these tips, you should start seeing improvement within a few months. However, it can take up to several years to fully repair your credit score, depending on the length of your credit history — and the most recent 24 months of credit history have the most significant impact on your score.
No matter your age, having a good credit score should be a part of your overall financial plan. Not only could it help you to save money on the biggest purchases in your life, but, it could also help you to deal with any emergencies that come up in your older years.
Do you think that maintaining a good credit rating is important, no matter your age? Why or why not?