bigstock--159229238Some people imagine retired, debt-free individuals to be above the consequences of bad credit scores. They think that if a retiree has paid off their home along with any other loans or debt they accumulated, then their credit scores don’t matter, while the reality is commitment to good credit is a lifelong endeavor that even retired individuals can benefit from. Why? Because regardless of what stage of life you’re in, there will always be goods and services that will require credit checks before purchase. Below, we detail a few ways good credit can be a lifesaver for seniors.

Some senior care facilities or services may require good credit

As apartment hunters may know, renting usually requires solid credit since landlords will often run credit checks on potential tenants. Just like with apartment applications, a number of assisted living facilities, nursing homes and other senior care services might also require credit checks before they’ll allow you to relocate or use the services. While some senior services accept Medicaid or funds from other types of government benefit programs (and thus don’t require credit checks), there are quite a few that don’t accept these as payment and require credit checks during their application or signup process. Even if you have the means to pay, in some cases, these services look to your credit history to determine how consistent your payments will be. Similarly, if other family members are pitching in, their credit might be taken into consideration, as well. While you may be able to find an alternative service or facility that doesn’t run a credit check, maintaining good credit into retirement can help you keep all of your senior care options open.

Planning post-retirement housing arrangements is easy with good credit

Just like good credit opens up more options for senior care, it also opens up more options for housing in general. Since both renting and acquiring a mortgage require credit checks, this means purchasing a post-retirement home or just simply downsizing into a smaller living space will be much easier for those with good credit. Similarly, good credit can grant individuals some special options like mortgage refinancing or even a reverse mortgage. For seniors still paying off their homes in the current low-interest environment, refinancing can be a huge relief that will make it easier to complete their mortgage. Conversely, a reverse mortgage allows seniors to be paid back the equity in their current home or property through installments where the lender pays you while you’re living on your property. This money can either be used to aid the beneficiary with their cost of living or saved up, potentially toward purchasing or renting a new property.

Basic expenses are more affordable with good credit

Many services that require you to make monthly payments – like utilities, phone bills, car insurance and others – run your credit as a means of judging the reliability of your payments. In the case of insurance, for example, your actual monthly rate could be higher the worse your credit is because credit is one of the factors used by some insurance companies. Keep in mind that health and auto insurance rates can tend to go up as you get older, due to your presumed increased risk, adding to that with poor credit provides unneeded heartache. In regard to other monthly services, you may find yourself paying a little more every month for the service if you have not-so-great credit, as they may view you as a risk.

You might need money in a pinch

Retirement is a time of relaxation and fun, but sometimes life interrupts. Unforeseen medical expenses, property damage or even the costs of helping out your children and grandchildren could require you to unexpectedly open up a take out a loan. If you have less-than-favorable credit, you’ll find yourself paying higher interest rates or even being unapproved. Also, if you’re looking to work again, either for fun or for extra money, be aware that some employers run credit checks. Although you may be able to explain why your credit is not that great, it’s likely a conversation you’re not going to want to have. Ultimately, just like saving up is key to being prepared for anticipated retirement expenses, so too is maintaining your credit so that you can be ready for whatever may come your way in your post-retirement life.

If you’re a senior looking for a new credit card, visit our list of the best credit cards for seniors, and check out our guide to checking your credit reports and scores to see where your credit stands.