Are you looking for true love, or at least a nifty parlor trick? Well, you'd better acquaint yourself with the telltale signs of good and bad credit.
If you don't believe that credit scores affect whom we date and how long we date them, just ask the 78% of people in a committed relationship who say that financial skills are even more important than physical attractiveness, according to Citibank survey data. Such a stance makes sense, after all, from both instinctual and practical perspectives, considering that bad credit serves as a costly scarlet letter on one's record. Not only does bad credit shut the door on certain job opportunities, living arrangements and life dreams, but it also costs the 28% of people who bear it, according to WalletHub data, thousands of dollars per year.
But with roughly two-thirds of Americans unaware of even their own credit score, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, how can we expect them to guess a friend, family member or even a stranger's rating? Fortunately, the warning signs are ultimately quite obvious, if you know what to look for. So whether you're guessing for yourself or about someone else - perhaps as part of your dating-scene screening process - here are some clues to keep in mind.
1. Hometown: Credit scores can vary significantly based on simple geography, at least when you're looking at large statistical samples. For example, the average resident of Southlake, TX has excellent credit, with a score of 740.56 that's in the 99th percentile nationally, according to WalletHub's database. The average person from Gary, IN, on the other hand, has a "bad" score of 588.40 that's in the 1st percentile.
All in all, there is a roughly 214-point gap, which equates to a difference of about 38%, between the cities with the best and worst credit scores.
2. Payment Method: If you catch a glimpse of someone's credit card, you can immediately ascertain their approximate credit score, particularly now that pretty much everyone has the ability to Google on the go. Searching for that particular card on a site such as WalletHub will tell you the minimum credit-level (i.e., excellent, good, fair or bad) needed for approval. And that, in turn, gives you a range of likely scores.
3. Entertainment Preferences: This might seem a bit strange, but you really can learn a lot from trivialities such as whether an individual prefers Taylor Swift or Kanye West and which sport, late-night TV host or type of cell phone is his or her favorite.
Nearly 9 in 10 people with excellent credit pick Swift, and hockey has the most fans with excellent credit (soccer the most with bad credit), according to WalletHub survey results. Charlie Rose has the most viewers with excellent credit (James Corden the most with bad credit), and iPhone users are the most likely to have excellent credit (Blackberry the most with bad credit).
4. Kids & Pets: Generally speaking, people who don't have kids are slightly more likely to have excellent credit than parents (49% vs. 40%), according to a nationally representative WalletHub survey. But when you drill down a bit deeper, things really start to get interesting. People with three kids are actually more likely to have pristine credit than the childless, yet when you add one more rug rat to the mix, the odds of credit excellence plummet. Roughly 37% of people with four or more children have bad credit.
When it comes to pets, apologies to cat lovers because you're also more likely to have excellent credit if you own a dog. Forty-six percent of dog owners are in the top credit tier, compared to just 40 percent of cat owners. On the bright side (sort of), dog and cat are equally likely to have bad credit, with 28% of each group shouldering that burden.
5. Who You Supported in The Presidential Primaries: Although the field has dwindled to two main nominees, depending on how you look at things, there's still a lot we can learn from people's preferences this past primary season. For instance, 60% of John Kasich supporters had excellent credit, while 26% of Hillary Clinton fans have bad credit - both tops among major candidates, according to WalletHub research.
6. Public Records: A bit of private detective work is nothing new for someone with a fresh crush, and if you happen to find yourself browsing the Web in such a context, pay close attention to any public records you might find in the individual's name. Evidence of bankruptcy proceedings, foreclosures, tax liens and other such red flags increases the odds of the person having bad credit.
At the end of the day, it's important to remember that the credit score does not make the person. People can rebound from bad credit, but you can't always do the same after a mistaken snap judgment. What's more, you can take guesswork out of the equitation, at least as far as your own score is concerned, by checking it for free on a site such as WalletHub - the only one that offers daily updates.