You might pay close attention to your outfit, conversational skills and manners before a first date, but did you ever think about the impression your credit score is making? According to a new survey of 1,000 unmarried adults in their 30s and 40s from freecreditscore.com, potential romantic partners care just as much about financial responsibility and good credit as they do about physical attractiveness. In fact, a good credit score can even make a person more attractive, and vice versa.
Nine out of 10 survey respondents said financial responsibility was an important aspect when considering possible partners, and most people said they worried that their future partners' poor credit scores would hurt their ability to buy homes, manage joint accounts and get good interest rates on loans. "Spends beyond means" and "has debt" were listed among the least attractive traits a mate could have by both men and women.
Meanwhile, women said they found it very attractive when potential partners pay their bills on time and are financially responsible. They also said financial compatibility was as important as sex when it comes to a long-term partner.
[Read: Why Love and Money Don't Mix.]
Here's the real shocker: Three in 10 women and 2 in 10 men said they would not even marry a person with a poor credit score. Talk about a deal-breaker.
There's not much chance of keeping credit histories a secret, either, since about half of the survey respondents said they talked about their credit score with their partners, and 39 percent said they did so during the first year of dating.
If you want to boost your credit score -- and apparently your chances of finding love -- try these tips:
-- Get an annual checkup. Obtain a copy of your credit report--it's free once a year--at AnnualCreditReport.com. You have to pay to obtain your actual score, but getting the report alone will allow you to check for mistakes. (Note: When you order your credit score from the website freecreditscore.com, you are enrolled in a week-long trial membership program. Unless you cancel it during that trial period, you will pay $17.99 a month. To get access to your credit report without auto-enrolling in any programs, you can visit AnnualCreditReport.com.)
-- Fix errors. Credit bureaus are required to correct errors by law. If you see a mistake, contact them, either through their website, over the phone or by letter, to explain what's wrong. The Federal Trade Commission recommends including copies of any documents that support your position as well as the copy of the report itself, with the errors circled. The FTC offers a sample dispute letter on its website, ftc.gov.
-- Maintain a paper trail. Keep copies of everything you send to the bureaus, and request a return receipt at the post office so you know they received your mail.
-- Beware of credit-improvement scams. Dozens of companies offer to help you improve your credit score for a fee, but it's usually simpler (and cheaper) to improve your score on your own following the sure-and-steady approach: Pay all your bills on time, stay well under your credit limits and keep accounts in good standing over many years.
Once you have a glowing credit score, you might even want to consider listing it on your online dating profile.
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