By Jeffrey Strain, August 19th, 2013
There are huge disadvantages of having no credit score. I actually know this better than most. After living over ten years in Japan, I came back to the US naively assuming that the credit history I had built over there would transfer back to the US. That wasn’t the case and I found myself having to deal with numerous situations without a credit score. From my personal experience of having to deal with all the negatives that come with having no credit score, as well as knowing a number of others who experienced a similar situation to me when they returned, I can say with conviction that Dave Ramsey gives horrible credit score advice.
For those unfamiliar, Dave Ramsey refers to a credit score as the “I-Love-Debt Score” and makes the statement that “the only way to have a good credit score is to go into debt, stay in debt, and continually pay your accounts perfectly — without adding too much debt or paying too much off. In other words, stay in debt for as long as you can.” This is patently false as I currently have no debt whatsoever and yet have a good credit score. Others do too.
He then advises that since you are working to become debt free, once you reach that goal you “…don’t need a credit score, anyway, since you don’t plan on using credit!” While this might sound nice, I can attest that even when you are debt free, a good credit score comes in extremely handy. I would even argue that having one is essential if you want to truly be financially savvy since it can save you a lot of money. If you care about getting the most out of your money, a credit score, whether we like it or not, is important to have.
While you may have heard some of the below arguments before regarding why a credit score can be important, my guess is that some of my arguments you may never have considered before. Below are 21 reasons that it’s important to keep a good credit score even if you’re debt free (and why Dave Ramsey sucks at giving credit score advice).
This one is huge and one that I rarely see mentioned. I can’t over emphasize this point enough, and I would argue for this reason alone, you want to keep a good credit score. Not having one will mean that you will have to spend a lot more time when it comes to numerous financial situations, including any of the ones mentioned below. If you believe that your time is worth something as I do, wasted time can be a huge cost. Even when you are able to get what you want, you usually have to spend a lot more time explaining why you don’t have a credit score even though you don’t have any debt. I had to spend countless extra hours, many being extremely frustrating, sorting out my financial situation which should have been straight forward and simple all because I had no credit history.
Difficulties Even When Successful
Another problem with having no credit score is that even when you successfully get what you want, it’s much more difficult to get it than if you had a good credit score. Not having a credit score often means going through several layers of management until you can reach someone who will approve what you need. The fact is that for most entry-level employees, if anything isn’t exactly correct, they can’t approve it. That means that people who don’t have credit scores have to work much harder to get things than others that have a good credit score can get without any hassles.
Poor Customer Service
This is another aspect of not having a credit score that is often not mentioned, but the reality is that if you have no credit score, you don’t get treated nearly as well in many situations as you do when you have a good credit. When institutions look up my credit these days, they always seem to come back with a smile and an attitude that they are willing to do anything they can to help me. When I had no credit score, they always came back with concerned looks and a demeanor telling me that it was going to be difficult to help me even if they did the best that they could. The fact is, having a good score means that you will get better treatment from anyone who looks it up.
Lack of Financial Flexibility
Having a good credit score gives you a lot of financial flexibility that isn’t available for those with no credit score. When you have a good credit score, there are many financial institutions that want to work with you. That’s not the case when you have no credit score. Having a quality credit score means that you can get a much better deal when it come to virtually any financial transaction than you could get with no credit score at all. When the unexpected happens and you need to get funds for something that you had never anticipated, you simply have more flexibility in getting them than you do without a score to your name. This include the flexibility of financially helping out others if you choose to do so.
Increase Large Transaction Risks
One of the things that I immediately realized when I was still trying to get a credit card (which I was having trouble doing because I didn’t have a credit score) was the additional risk that came when making large purchases. I have always put the purchase of my airline tickets on credit cards because years ago I had a ticket on an airline that suddenly went bankrupt. Since I had made the purchase with a credit card, the credit card company refunded the amount back to me since I never received the service I had paid for. Had I not paid with a credit card in that instance, I would have simply lost the money. I had to make a number of large purchases upon arriving back in the US and although I was able to make them in other ways, I felt a bit uneasy knowing that if things went wrong, I really had no protection simply due to the lack of a credit rating.
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Used by permission from Saving Advice.