Flip a coin and call it in the air — heads or tails. If you’re between the age of 18 and 34, it’s substantially more likely that you will guess the result of the coin toss than that you know your credit score, according to a recent survey. That’s a very bad thing.
According to the survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of CouponCabin.com, 47 percent of American adults don’t know their own credit score. In the prized 18-34 demographic, that number is 60 percent.
Credit scores are calculated based on data collected by the three major credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — among others, and they create a profile of creditworthiness based on consumers’ experience with different forms of credit, and how they use credit products. Each of the big three credit bureaus is required by law to offer consumers free access to their credit report once a year, allowing any willing consumer to check their report three times a year if they want — or all at the same time. Credit reports do not offer a precise number — i.e., the exact credit score — but the data can be used to estimate the credit score range, giving consumers a rough sense of their creditworthiness. For actual credit scores, consumers often have to pay for them.
It would appear that young people don’t like to go through the trouble. According to a CouponCabin.com spokesperson, the survey’s methodology was such that, had a respondent checked their credit report, they would have likely answered in the affirmative to the question.
This would not be a problem were it the case that your credit score matters as much as, say, your Klout score — but that’s not the case. When it comes time to buy a house or a car, your credit score could add or subtract several basis points to and from your loan’s APR, which can add up to thousands of dollars of savings(for those with good credit) or losses (for those with bad credit) over the course of your loan repayment.
Worse still, our complete lack of knowledge about our credit score has not stopped us from signing up for credit cards — lots of them, in fact. According to the survey 56 percent of respondents have two or more credit cards, and 35 percent have three or more. Meanwhile, a small minority — seven percent — had six or more credit cards in their wallet. They might consider investing in Wallaby.
The one bright spot in the survey is that consumers seem generally wary of taking on debt. The plurality of respondents, 38 percent, have less than $1,000 in credit card debt. Still, 32 percent reported having more than $2,000 in credit card debt and 12 percent of this group had more than $10,000.
A bad credit score keeps consumers in debt longer if they carry a balance on their cards — clearly many do — and makes it difficult for consumers to have their finances in order. Having a bad credit score is a vicious cycle.
Annualcreditreport.com is the proper resource for your free annual reports. It might not have a catchy jingle, but it’s the Federal Trade Commission-approved website.