Her heart fluttered as their eyes locked. He drew her closer and whispered, “My credit score is 780. I hope yours is at least within 1 standard deviation.”
Swoon. Credit scores may be more important than you realized.
In fact, your credit score can be predictive of your success in forming a long-term relationship and staying in it, a recently released study found.
That’s because credit scores are highly correlated with trustworthiness. It turns out that if someone can’t be trusted with a loan, they may not be a rock-solid romantic partner.
“Credit scores are widely used in a variety of contexts as an indicator of reliability and ability to honor and maintain a broad range of commitments, such as rental and employment relationships, not just those involving debt and credit,” according to the Federal Reserve paper “Credit Scores and Committed Relationships.”
Economists with Brookings Institution, the Federal Reserve Board and UCLA analyzed credit data on 12 million randomly selected U.S. consumers. The data sample spanned about 15 years.
Credit scores, like water, seek their own level
The study found that people tend to fall into relationships with those who have roughly similar credit scores.
The average credit score at the beginning of the sample was 660. Couples tended to have a difference of about 69 points between them, while randomly matched strangers were separated by about 150 points. Couples with more than 66 points between their credit scores were 24% more likely to break up eventually, in years 2 through 5 of the relationship.
Why do couples tend to have similar scores? A footnote indicates this could be because people ask directly about credit scores or because they observe characteristics that correlate with credit scores.
There were also similarities between partners for other credit-related information such as bankruptcy, derogatory marks, total debt outstanding, credit inquiries, credit utilization and the age of credit history.
Really good credit is good for relationships
For singles, a credit score between 750 and 800 was the sweet spot for the highest chances of forming a relationship. People with the lowest credit scores were about 30% less likely to find love.
Couples with higher credit scores also were more likely to stay together. Indeed, couples with higher initial average credit scores had a 37% lower chance of separation after being together at least 2 years.
A mismatch in credit scores can be a poor match
Partners with dissimilar initial credit scores may have more trouble accomplishing the financial tasks involved with setting up a household — renting or buying a place to live, buying furniture and appliances, and setting up an emergency fund. That could lead to financial problems.
A large gap between credit scores was predictive of the potential for financial distress with a 19% higher chance of bankruptcy in the first 2 years. The possibility of foreclosure was 10% higher and the chance of having derogatory credit marks was 15% higher.
And financial distress can be a harbinger of relationship doom. The study found that couples that filed for bankruptcy were about 50% more likely to separate.
Life goals and credit scores
The takeaway message from the study is that financial commitments aren’t always that different from family commitments. The care someone puts into their financial life can be indicative of how they behave in life generally.
“If you are in the mindset of looking for a long-term relationship, looking for someone to spend your life with, you want to talk about finances,” says Niem Green, founder and CEO of the dating site CreditScoreDating.com.
“You have to lay it out: These are my habits, these are my financial goals and this is what I’m looking for. You have to be compatible in that way. You say this is how I want to spend my life, it’s important,” he says.
Want to know your chances of finding and keeping love? Check your credit and learn how to manage it for free with myBankrate.
Follow me on Twitter: @SheynaSteiner
Senior investing reporter Sheyna Steiner is a co-author of “Future Millionaires’ Guidebook,” an e-book written by Bankrate editors and reporters. It’s available at all the major e-book retailers.