Thursday, December 27, 2012

Does your date have good credit or bad credit?

The New York Times had an interesting article on people inquiring about credit scores on dates:
As she nibbled on strawberry shortcake, Jessica LaShawn, a flight attendant from Chicago, tried not to get ahead of herself and imagine this first date turning into another and another, and maybe, at some point, a glimmering diamond ring and happily ever after. 
Her musings were suddenly interrupted when her date asked a decidedly unromantic question: “What’s your credit score?”
Amusingly, a chemist shows up later in the article (I've deleted his name):
[Name removed], a 33-year-old chemist in San Francisco, said he worried that the vast disparity between his girlfriend’s credit score and his own low one could create tension in their relationship. When the couple leased a car in October, Mr. [Removed] had to leave his name off the contract because his poor credit scuttled his chances for the bargain interest rate that his girlfriend qualified for. 
Mr. [Removed] said he resented that his credit score, which he said was marred by a single contested cable bill, has limited his access to credit. “I always pay my bills so it’s pretty ridiculous that a billing error can ruin your score,” he said. His girlfriend declined to be interviewed.
I've always been under the impression that chemists probably tend to stay out of financial trouble and, in general, have good credit. My little anecdote about this was to see the very modest cars that my professors (no slouches in the earnings department, I suspect) drove. When I was at a large pharma company, I also noted the relatively modest vehicles in the parking lots. That said, graduate school can be a good time for people (including myself!) to get themselves into some small or large amount of debt, which can have repercussions down the road.

Naturally, though, asking a credit score on the first date is sort of stupid. While "what is your financial situation?" is incredibly important for any long-term relationship, at that moment, it's just sort of rude.


  1. You might as well ask your date about the distribution of his/her finances between bonds and stocks. Although I can imagine this kind of a conversation being a big turn-on for Wall Street types...

  2. The first comment on the NYT page nails it: "...Anybody who is going to lie about his or her finances in the marriage is also going to lie about the credit score. You've just effectively offended your honest dates and given yourself a false sense of security about the dishonest ones."

  3. There is no way someone has a poor credit score due to a single late bill payment. First, late bills are usually not even reported to the credit agencies until they are seriously delinquent, at minimum a month late. If you had pristine credit before that late bill, you might lose a hundred points and fall into the mid-to-high six hundreds, but within a year or two most of this will have rebounded. If your credit score was already lower to begin with, the drop would be even smaller.

    Also, if such an incident is isolated, you can usually negotiate with whomever you forgot to pay and prevent it from being reported at all. I've missed a couple of bills over the years, particularly around the times I was moving. Everything was cleared up easily with a single phone call.

  4. So... you can still have a credit score even if you don't have a credit card? The bank told me that if I don't get one, I'll have 'ghost credit' and apparently that's supposed to be bad. I thought the idea of being a ghost was a bit romantic in a 19th century Byronic sort of way, so I never got one, but I've definitely not paid a bill or two until a month late due to general inertia.

  5. This is exactly why I hate 30-year-old women - they make a date feel like a job interview!