Applying for Credit – A Regular Catch-22

It is a necessary evil. If and when you decide to buy a house, you will have to have a track record of good credit for a number of years. And with all the sub-prime mortgage loans going under, mortgage bankers are scrutinizing applications with a fine tooth comb.

If you have never had a credit card, get a secured card – meaning you have to deposit the money first and then you will be able to access it. Make some small purchases, pay on time, and add some more money to you account. Once you have done this for at least a year, apply for a ‘regular” credit card. Don’t worry about the size of the limit. It may only be for a few hundred dollars.

Continue to make small purchases and pay on time. You can even pay the minimum amount once in a while. Just don’t make any late payments. Doing this will establish a pattern of on-time payments. Once you have created this history of making your payments on-time, you will find it easier to apply for that home loan.

Applying for credit used to mean asking your neighborhood banker for a loan. Now, with national credit cards and computerized applications, the day of personal evaluations may be over. Instead, computer evaluations look at, among other things, your income, payment history, credit card accounts, and any outstanding balances. Paying in cash and in full may be sound financial advice, but they won’t give you a payment history that helps you get credit.

A major indicator of your ability to repay a loan is your current income. Those who consider income must include types of income that are likely to be received by older consumers. This includes salaries from part-time employment, Social Security, pensions, and other retirement benefits.
You also may want to tell creditors about assets or other sources of income, such as your home, additional real estate, savings and checking accounts, money market funds, certificates of deposit, and stocks and bonds.

If you’re age 62 or over, you have certain other protections. You can’t be denied credit because credit-related insurance is not available based on your age. Credit insurance pays off the creditor if you should die or become disabled.

On the other hand, a creditor can consider your age to:

• favor applicants who are age 62 or older.

• determine other elements of creditworthiness. For example, a creditor could consider whether you’re close to retirement age and a lower income.

While a creditor cannot take your age directly into account, a creditor may consider age as it relates to certain elements of creditworthiness. If, for example, at the age of 70, you apply for a 30-year mortgage, a lender might be concerned that you may not live to repay the loan. However, if you apply for a shorter loan term, increase your down payment, or do both, you might satisfy the creditor’s concerns.