People tend to get fixed on what counts as “good credit” or “bad credit” but the better question is how far will a good credit score really take you? While you can get approved for loans with a FICO score in the 680-760 range, you’re not necessarily going to get the lowest rates. For that, you’d need a higher score.
Aiming for a minimum FICO score of 760 can translate to easier approvals and less interest you’re going to pay on credit cards or loans. Once you get to this point, it’s not a huge leap to push your score into the 800+ range. If you can do that, then you’re pretty much guaranteed to get the best rates on anything you borrow.
There is another reason why you should aim for a higher score: employment. Randy S. Strauss, managing partner of recruiting firm Strauss Group Inc, says there are several reasons why job applicants are ‘scored’ for their credit worthiness. “The primary reason is to give the hiring authority a ‘measure’ of reliability about the individual.” Strauss says being responsible or reliable is difficult to assess with a resume. But a poor credit report may indicate that the individual is not acting responsibly in their personal life. Good credit can also be an indicator of how that person views responsibility, including how the individual follows rules, respects authority, is organized, etc., says Strauss. You’ve got to grant a prospective employer permission to check your credit. But saying no isn’t always an option. Some experts say refusing is akin to refusing a breathalyzer test. Your resistance will imply you’ve got something to hide. If you do have good credit and are looking to make a job change, these careers and industries might be for you:
Finance - Excellent credit is king in the finance industry, especially if money issues are dealt with on a daily basis (like in banking), says Caroline Ceniza, a career coach and recruiter who teaches professional development at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and Salary Negotiation at Barnard College. “The thinking is that [credit] is a signal of that person’s financial ability and the employer wants to make sure a potential employee doesn’t have a conflict to doing a good job. Money troubles may cloud their thinking about the company’s money issues.” But demonstrating you’re adept at handling your own finances tells hiring managers in the banking and finance industry that you’re the person for the job to help keep customer’s finances on the right track, too.
Secret Service/Spy - Many government institutions, such as the CIA and FBI, scrutinize credit information and financial disclosures when granting security clearances says Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations for Freedom Financial Network. The thinking here is also based on the demonstration of stability. If you’re stressed out worrying about past due notices, you might not be able to keep your cool in the field. A solid credit profile also sends the message that you’re responsible and dependable. All things super spies definitely need to be!
Manager - Gallegos says although it varies by company, anyone applying for mid-level management positions and above should expect a prospective employer to want to run a credit check and to expect an applicant has good credit. Employers want their leaders to be fiscally sound. That’s because if you can’t manage your finances and stick to a personal budget, you might not be able to keep the company from running into the red or spotting where and how to trim the fat should the company get into a financial bind.
The bottom line is whether or not you've got a good credit score is all about perspective. If you're not planning on to take on any new loans, lines of credit, or looking for a new job, you might be satisfied with a score that straddles between "fair" and "excellent".