Many older Americans are in a situation where they may not have the good credit scores they want and perhaps should be wondering how best to go about improving their standings. Contrary to popular belief, it can be just as important for retirees to have strong ratings as it is for borrowers still in the work force.
The simple truth is that credit affects far more aspects of the lives of consumers of all ages than just their various outstanding balances and accounts, and taking the time to get a score under control and back up to where it should be can provide significant financial benefit to those who have already pulled out of the workforce after long careers. As a consequence, making the commitment to keep close tabs on all aspects of one's credit rating is important whether a person is 25 or 65.
Ways knowing credit standing can help
In the past, it's probable that credit standing was used in relatively limited ways, usually directly related to loan applications and those for other lines of credit, but in today's world, a large and growing number of different types of organizations are utilizing this factor as a means of evaluating applicants for far more than just new accounts. Today, everyone from employers to insurers and even service providers use credit reports to determine whether a person is qualified for something to which they applied, though consumers advocates say that some of these practices are inherently unfair. Nonetheless, that is the reality many have to face, except in states where such practices are legally prohibited, especially for processes related to hiring.
Some of these factors can be points of concern for many retirees nationwide, even when they don't go shopping for new credit accounts. For instance, many older people are now looking to start second jobs in their retirements as a means of helping to make ends meet, particularly if their savings and other income vehicles don't generate as much money for them on a monthly basis as they might have liked. Moreover, many seniors now choose to downsize their homes once they stop working, and as such might need to sign up for new insurance policies and even home services like utilities, some of which might require them to go through a quick credit check.
Unfortunately for these seniors, a bad credit score can potentially sink their chances for approval, and therefore it's important for them to not only know where they stand with respect to their credit, but also look for ways to improve their standings.
Finally, the unfortunate reality for many older Americans these days is that despite the fact that they have retired from their careers, they may still be plagued by debt, and having a healthy credit standing can help to sort out such an issue. Those who take the time to open balance transfer accounts, for instance, will likely get far better introductory terms on an account if they have good credit scores rather than even somewhat mediocre ones, which in turn helps them reduce their debt far more quickly and get a better handle on their overall finances. Many who take the time to slash debt significantly, rather than slowly, throughout their retirements will likely find a big benefit to doing so: the more quickly they're out of debt, the farther they can stretch their various sources of retirement income and live more comfortably. This will potentially also help them prepare for some of the unforeseen costs that occasionally crop up in retirement, such as large medical bills.
How to go about it
The easiest way for retirees to assess where they stand is for them to order copies of their credit reports, which they are entitled by federal law to do free of charge from each of the three major credit bureaus once per year. This will help to give them a complete understanding of the details of the various accounts listed in their name, including how they owe on them and their general payment history. By checking these documents and taking a careful assessment of where they stand, borrowers may in turn be able to find the quickest ways to boost their scores — usually through debt reduction and limiting late payments — as quickly as they possibly can.
However, taking the time to check credit reports for any unfair markings which may be unduly lowering their scores can also be of the utmost importance. If any such entries are discovered on a retiree's credit report, it might be wise for them to work with a credit repair law firm, which may be able to help them dispute the entry and in turn get their credit rating returned to where it deserves to be.