It’s hard for many people to believe you can win in life without a credit score, but if you’ve been keeping up with the Celebrating Financial Freedom blog at all, you know I believe you don’t need a credit score at all (read about it here).
After I posted that entry a while back, I got a call from an old friend who told me a story that just happened to coincide perfectly with the timing of that post.
The story is about his mom (I’ll call her Marge), whom I’ve known almost my entire life. Marge and her husband have been out of debt since 1966, the year before my friend was born, a great accomplishment to be sure.
A few weeks ago Marge was at a local store making a purchase when they offered her a discount if she would sign up for a store credit card. For whatever reason, she decided to do it. She filled out the application form and they quickly entered here info into the computer.
After a few seconds the cashier looked at her sheepishly.
“Umm, ma’am… I’m sorry, we can’t give you a card.”
“Why not?” Marge asks.
“Well Ma’am, the computer doesn’t tell me why it just says you don’t qualify.”
“That’s impossible!” Marge exclaims, “I pay all my bills on time and I don’t have any debt.”
“I’m sorry” the cashier says apologetically.
This gets Marge fuming, “Let me see the manager” she says, thinking someone a little higher up might see the light.
The manager is summoned. He comes over and looks at the computer screen, trying to dig a little deeper to find out why she was turned down. He gets a puzzled look on his face when he discovers it’s not because Marge has a low credit score, she has no credit score at all.
Again she hears the news, “Ma’am I’m sorry, you just don’t qualify for the card”
Now, if you knew Marge, you’d know that she doesn’t take this kind of news lightly. She feels like these people are telling her she’s not good enough, a deadbeat, not worthy.
The more she thinks about being denied, the more she fumes. It really starts to eat her up. So she tells herself “I’ll show them. I’ll get a card from my bank” (where she’s had an account for decades) “and then I’ll march right back in that store with my card and show them I am not a deadbeat!”
So Marge goes to the bank and fills out the app. After the credit manager plugs in the numbers, she sees that familiar look on his face.
“I’m sorry Marge, but you don’t qualify for a credit card” he says.
“How is that possible? I’m extremely responsible with my money, I have no debt, I pay my bills on time. Why doesn’t anybody want to trust me with a credit card?” She’s astounded and confused.
“Well Marge, It’s not that you can’t be trusted. In fact I think you are very trustworthy because I know your record with this bank” he said. “The problem is not that you have a bad credit score, it’s that you don’t have a credit score at all. It’s been so long since you’ve had any debt that when it comes to rating your credit, you don’t even exist.”
She gave him a curious look, still not completely understanding.
He continued, “Most people would be very envious to be in your position. You’ve been winning financially for over 40 years and you are in a better financial position than probably 95% of the people in this country. You should be proud of that!”
Finally the gears start turning and the light bulb finally comes on. She begins to understand that it’s not her, it’s them. They (the credit scoring companies), give a credit score to people who are in debt, and that score measures how good you are at managing your debt. She realizes that not having a credit score puts her in an enviable position, and she should be proud.
Marge ended up getting the credit card she wanted because of her good long term relationship with the bank, and I’m sure she’s gone back to that store to use that card, probably more than once, just to make her point.
Why she felt she needed a credit card in the first place I’ll never know. But I do know that one day I want to be just like Marge was before she got her card…
a person without a credit score.