Does unemployment affect your credit?

When you’re unemployed, it’s easy to feel like everything in your life is up in the air, including your finances. One common concern is how unemployment might affect your credit score. After all, a good credit score is essential for getting approved for loans, credit cards, and even renting an apartment. So, does unemployment affect your credit score? The answer is, unfortunately, yes. However, you can lessen its effect by taking certain measures.


Before we dive into the details of how unemployment affects your credit score, let’s first define these two terms.

Unemployment refers to a situation where someone is not currently employed but is actively seeking work. Unemployment can be caused by various factors, such as job loss, company downsizing, or a struggling economy.

A credit score is a three-digit figure that represents an individual’s likelihood of being repaid on loans. It’s based on several factors, including your payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, and types of credit you have. Your credit score is used by lenders and other financial institutions to determine if you’re eligible for credit and what interest rates you’ll pay.

For several reasons, a high credit score is necessary. It can affect your ability to get approved for credit, rent an apartment, or even land a job. You may save tens of thousands of dollars on interest charges by maintaining a high credit score.

How Unemployment Affects Credit

Unfortunately, being unemployed can have a significant impact on your credit score. Here are some of the ways unemployment can affect your credit:

Late or Missed Payments

When you’re unemployed, it can be challenging to keep up with your bills. Late or missed payments can hurt your credit score, as payment history is one of the most significant factors in determining your score. If you’re unable to make a payment, contact your creditors to see if you can work out a payment plan or deferment.

Utilization Rates

Your credit utilization rate is the amount of credit you’re using compared to the total amount of credit you have available. Credit scores tend to drop when utilization ratios go too high. When you’re unemployed, you may need to rely more heavily on credit cards to cover your expenses, which can increase your utilization rate.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

The ratio of your total debts to your annual income is known as your debt-to-income ratio. Lenders use this ratio to determine if you’re eligible for credit. When you’re unemployed, your debt-to-income ratio may increase if you have a lot of debt and no income.

Collections and Charge-Offs

Unemployment can also lead to collections and charge-offs. If you’re unable to make payments on your debts, your creditors may send your account to a collections agency or charge-off your account. These negative marks can stay on your credit report for up to seven years and can significantly lower your credit score.

Length of Credit History

A credit score also takes into account how long you’ve had credit accounts open for. When you’re unemployed, you may be forced to close credit accounts, which can shorten your credit history. A shorter credit history can hurt your credit score, as it may be more challenging for lenders to evaluate your creditworthiness.

Credit Inquiries

When you apply for credit, lenders will typically check your credit report, which is called a credit inquiry. If you make a lot of requests for credit, it might hurt your score. When you’re unemployed and need to apply for credit, you may be tempted to apply for several credit cards or loans to increase your chances of approval. However, this can lead to multiple inquiries and lower your credit score.

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How to Protect Your Credit While Unemployed

While unemployment can have a negative impact on your credit score, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage. Here are some tips:

File for Unemployment Benefits

If you’re unemployed, file for unemployment benefits as soon as possible. Unemployment benefits can provide you with a source of income while you look for a new job. Having income can help you stay current on your bills and protect your credit score.

Reduce Expenses

When you’re unemployed, it’s essential to reduce your expenses as much as possible. Consider cutting back on non-essential expenses, such as dining out, subscriptions, and entertainment. The less money you spend, the more you’ll have available to cover your bills and protect your credit score.

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Prioritize Payments

If you’re unable to make all of your payments, prioritize which bills are most important. Paying your rent or mortgage, utilities, and car payment should be your top priorities. If you can’t make your credit card payments, contact your creditors to see if you can work out a payment plan or deferment.

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Consider Credit Counseling

If you’re struggling to manage your debt, consider contacting a credit counseling agency. Credit counselors can help you create a budget, negotiate with creditors, and develop a plan to manage your debt. They can also provide you with valuable resources and support to help you protect your credit score.


In conclusion, unemployment can have a significant impact on your credit score. Late or missed payments, high utilization rates, collections and charge-offs, a shorter credit history, and too many credit inquiries can all lower your credit score. However, by filing for unemployment benefits, reducing expenses, prioritizing payments, and considering credit counseling, you can protect your credit score while unemployed.

Remember, a good credit score is essential for several reasons, so taking steps to protect it should be a priority. If you’re struggling to manage your debt or protect your credit score, don’t hesitate to seek help.


Does unemployment affect my credit score?

Yes, unemployment can have a negative impact on your credit score.

How long does a missed payment stay on my credit report?

It takes up to seven years for a missed payment to be removed off a credit record.

Can I still apply for credit while unemployed?

Yes, you can still apply for credit while unemployed, but it’s important to be mindful of the impact it may have on your credit. score

Will filing for unemployment benefits hurt my credit score?

No, filing for unemployment benefits will not hurt your credit score.

What should I do if I’m struggling to manage my debt?

Consider contacting a credit counseling agency for help managing your debt and protecting your credit score.

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