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Should you be concerned with your dateís credit scores?

Q. I have excellent credit, but I just learned that the woman Iím dating does not. Right now, I donít see this as a problem, since my good credit gives me access to what I need. Should I worry about someone elseís credit?

A. This depends on whether you want the relationship to progress.  If so, you’d be wise to consider your girlfriend’s credit scores, and here’s why.

People who get married or have a committed relationship often acquire things with credit as they build their lives together—even if they’re not planning to do so at the outset.  If you eventually decided to buy a home or car together, a prospective lender will look at your high credit scores—and your girlfriend’s low ones, too.  As a result, your girlfriend’s poor credit may prevent you from qualifying for the loan you want or need.

If you need both your income and hers to qualify for a home loan, for example, her credit problems could prove so damaging that her income wouldn’t be considered as part of the loan process.  If this happens, then you’d be left trying to qualify for a loan on your income alone, or forget buying a new home altogether.  

Though you’re working in smaller dollar amounts, the same scenario can play out for a new car, should you decide to buy one together.  What happens if your girlfriend can’t qualify for a car loan?  Are you willing to buy a car together if it means that the loan will have to be in your name?  What if the relationship falls apart, and you’re stuck with all the payments?   

Since your girlfriend’s credit could eventually have a negative impact on you, I think it would be wise for you to find out what caused her credit problems in the first place. Was it due to a one-time life event that was out of her control?  (A serious accident, for instance.)  Or are her credit problems a result of poor decisions, such as overspending or making late payments?  What is she doing right now to improve her credit situation?  The answers to these questions reveal information that will eventually affect your relationship.

In fact, research confirms that differing credit scores among couples can spell future trouble.  In 2015, the Division of Research and Statistics and Monetary Affairs of the Federal Reserve Board of Washington, DC published a report titled “Credit Scores and Committed Relationships.”  Based on data from 12 million Americans over 15.5 years, the report reflects that couples with differences in their credit scores are highly predictive of subsequent separation. A  couple with an initial difference in credit score of 66 points is almost 25 percent more likely to separate during the second, third, and fourth year of their relationship. On the other hand, couples with higher credit scores are more likely to maintain their committed relationships.

People don’t enter a relationship thinking it will end. We are optimistic about the future.  But that doesn’t mean we should overlook the signs that are before us if we want a relationship to last.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills, a United Way member agency. For more information, email

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.

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