Employers check credit scores in application process

Leighann McGivern

As many as 60 percent of employers admit to checking credit scores before making a job offer, assistant finance professor Ronald Stolle said.

“A low credit score may cost a student a job offer,” Stolle said.

Stolle said low credit scores can also restrict students from accessing credit and could cause them to receive higher interest rates, meaning it would cost more to borrow.

Economics instructor Erik Zemljic said the most important thing is for students to establish good credit while in college. Zemljic said credit scores range from 350 to 850 and most Americans fall around the 700 mark.

“Most students graduating from college will have a score anywhere from 650 to 700,” Zemljic said. “The biggest part is to get a credit card. Make two or three small purchases every month.”

Zemljic recommended that students start by opening a credit card through their banks or through Chase Freedom or Discover, who both offer cash back rewards on certain purchases. He said there are certain things that hurt a person’s credit score, which students should avoid when trying to establish good credit.

“The most important thing is the payment history,” Zemljic said. “One late payment could have a big impact on your credit.”

Zemljic said other factors that affect credit score include the total amount borrowed compared to the available balance and how long a person has had a credit history.

Stolle said a good rule is to never spend more than 30 percent of an available credit line.

“Maximum charges outstanding on a card with a $1,000 credit limit should never exceed $300,” Stolle said.

Zemjlic said he discouraged students from applying for too many store credit cards because each application process does a hard inquiry into credit history.

“Too many hard inquiries could have a negative impact on a score,” Zemljic said.

He also added that students should be cautious when applying for student credit cards because they often have higher interest rates.

“Just because it says ‘student’ on it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best deal,” Zemljic said.

Both Stolle and Zemljic offer classes in personal finance through the College of Business.

Contact Leighann McGivern at [email protected].