WINK News Investigates: Women have worse credit than men
FORT MYERS, Fla- If you’re applying for loans or a credit card, you might be at a major disadvantage and not even know it. You may not even be able to help it, because simply being a woman can be a set-back.
Women have an average credit score of 621, compared to an average credit score of 630 for men, according to a new report from Credit Sesame, a website that analyzes credit data.”
The same report found women have less debt than men on average, but their lines of credit are still lower. Financial planner James Sands says it has to do with the income to debt ratio. “Their credit score is going to drop even if they have less debt. The ratio is still going to be higher.”
Gender Pay Gap Mostly To Blame
The credit card disparity between men and women mostly comes down to the number on your paycheck. Bev Duff is a professional guardian who manages money and assets for her clients. She also fights for women’s issues with the service organization Zonta International. She says “a woman has to work 12 months plus 3 before we get the equivalence of what a man gets in a year.”
What if you don’t have an income at all, because you’re staying home to raise your children? Duff says you’ll be penalized, “because you won’t have that work history to show that stability.”
As strange as it sounds, experts say a full-time parent basically needs permission from the bread winner to get a credit card.
“If the wife decides to stay home with the kids, her income is basically the household income and not her own personal, so it’s almost impossible for her to qualify for something on her own. she has to have her spouse as a joint applicant,” Sands said.
Whatever the case may be, that score is more important than ever because it’s used for more reasons.
“The big thing is insurance. you’re getting home owner’s insurance, auto insurance, they now pull your credit score to determine whether you’re high risk or not.”
How To Improve Your Credit Score:
- Limit your credit card accounts
- Make payments on time
- Keep your charges to 30% or less of a card’s limit
- Check your credit report
- Don’t be afraid to dispute something
Asking For A Raise
One of the hardest things to do is asking your boss for a raise. For a woman who thinks she may be making less than her male counterparts, Bev Duff says you should point out your value to the company, go in with a figure in mind, and keep a positive attitude.
Store Cards Can Kill A Credit Score
Financial planner James Sands says department store cards can really drag down your credit. Many of them offer incentives like a free gift or discount off your first purchase. However, they score low on your credit profile. Because of the short grace period on payments and high interest, you could get buried in debt if you’re not aggressive with paying your entire balance.