Should a Low Credit Score Be a Dealbreaker When You're Dating?

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Your partner's bad credit can affect your financial future.

When you're dating, there are a lot of things to consider before deciding to get serious with someone. And while it may not be romantic or fun, financial compatibility is one of the big issues you're going to want to think about.

If you choose to merge your life with a partner, that person's financial history -- as well as future financial choices -- are going to affect you in profound ways. That's why it's so important to discuss money early on in your relationship and to share details such as your debt totals and credit scores.

But what happens when you exchange these key details and you discover that your partner has a low credit score? Under those circumstances, should you end the relationship if your own credit history is far better than your beloved's?

Should you break up over a bad credit score?

It depends. When you find out that your partner has a low credit score, the first thing you should do is figure out why.

Sometimes, people have a low score because they don't have a long borrowing history. The person you're dating may be debt averse or simply may not have needed to take on much credit. If that's the case, they may not have enough credit history to earn a high score.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing -- as long as you're both on the same page about when and how you'll use debt as a tool. For example, if you get married and want to buy a house with a mortgage, would your partner be on board or want to save up for years to purchase a low-priced home with cash?

Other reasons your partner may have a low credit score could include unforeseen circumstances, such as medical debt or a period of unemployment. This may not be reflective of their financial responsibility in the long term, and it may not be a sign they'll have credit problems in the future. But be sure you have a serious conversation about how they ended up missing payments, defaulting on debt, or whatever else they might have done to earn the black marks on their credit report.

It's worth noting their negative credit history could still affect you even if it wasn't caused by poor financial choices they are likely to repeat. Until they improve their score, it may be difficult for you to buy a home together or to get other joint debt. And if they're still working on paying past-due bills, this could affect the lifestyle they can afford to live.

While this shouldn't be a reason alone to break up, you need to consider whether you will be comfortable working with your partner and putting in the time to improve their credit score (and potentially pay down debt). If the person you're dating is worth it, you may not mind making these sacrifices.

But in some cases, bad credit is the result of fiscal irresponsibility, such as a history of borrowing too much, mismanaging funds, and forgetting to make payments (or not caring about defaulting). If you suspect that may be the case, then bad credit is almost always worth breaking up over -- unless you're prepared to live a life with creditors calling or to constantly fight with your partner about being more responsible with money.

Ultimately, you'll need to carefully assess the cause of the bad credit to find out if it's a problem worth overcoming.

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