Another way to make your first date a living hell

Credit Score Compare
Credit Score Compare (Photo credit: Casey Serin)

Yes, really.

Now it’s considered normal to ask if your dinner partner has a decent credit score:

It’s so widely used that it has also become a bigger factor in dating decisions, sometimes eclipsing more traditional priorities like a good job, shared interests and physical chemistry. That’s according to interviews with more than 50 daters across the country, all under the age of 40.

Credit scores are like the dating equivalent of a sexually transmitted disease test,” said Manisha Thakor, the founder and chief executive of MoneyZen Wealth Management, a financial advisory firm. “It’s a shorthand way to get a sense of someone’s financial past the same way an S.T.D. test gives some information about a person’s sexual past.”

It’s difficult to quantify how many daters factor credit scores into their romantic calculations, but financial planners, marriage counselors and dating site executives all said that they were hearing far more concerns about credit than in the past. “I’m getting twice as many questions about credit scores as I did prerecession,” Ms. Thakor said.

I like Manisha a lot, having interviewed her for my own work. But this is…weird.


I loathe debt. Hate it. Hate it! I grew up in a freelance family, where debt is just dumb if you don’t have a steady, known income. I also grew up in Canada, where there is no tax deduction for mortgage interest, as there is in the U.S., where even interest on credit card debt (!) was, for a while, tax deductible as well.

So I get why you don’t want to marry a deadbeat and sacrifice your own excellent credit score — often called a FICO score in the U.S. — to someone else’s crummy fiscal habits. I have heard far too many horror stories of people — too often women — who had no idea what insanity their husband or boyfriend was perpetrating financially until it bit them on the ass.

What do you think of this new trend?

Would you bail on someone new if they refused to share their score, or had a lousy one?

32 thoughts on “Another way to make your first date a living hell

  1. I’m one of those women who has been bitten by someone else’s sloppy financial habits, and I was stupid enough to go along with it at the time. The result has been nearly 5 years of stress and worry, and me working 7 days a week to try to make the minimum payments. I feel like I’m starting to get on top of it now, and I have to say that while I never considered asking for a credit score, I just can’t risk being with another person who doesn’t understand basic household finance. You don’t just lose money, I feel like I’ve lost years from my life.

    1. OUCH! So sorry to hear this.

      I knew nothing of my first husband’s finances (only that he paid all the bills) but Jose and I are much more open with one another. It was a hairy moment when we went to get our new mortgage together (I had owned the apartment with my ex-husband) and then we found out one another’s FICO scores…but both were (whew) excellent. But I have kept my credit cards and banking separate from his, and my retirement savings. We count on one another and have set aggressive saving goals we keep, but he is more comfortable with debt than I, and those cards are all in his name only.

  2. I want someone with a similar approach to money with regard to both saving and spending. I have that now with my husband, John, but that has not always been the case in previous relationships. I could tell you stories you’d have trouble believing, but they would be true.

    I was always very protective of my credit score in the US, but living in the UK … I am like a new born chick. I have no credit score of note yet here because it does not transfer.

  3. If you plan on a long term future with a person, yes a lot on conversations need to be had including some about money. But…on a first date? Can’t you get through the appetizers (literal and metaphoric) first?

    I read a fascinating book (“Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage,” by Stephanie Coontz) that traced how marriage evolved from a property owning and financial treaty between families into almost a purely romantic affair in the West – and debated whether or not the shift was an overall good thing. I wonder if this sort of dating question signals some sort of shift back towards the fiscal treaty aspect of marriage.

    1. It is indeed an interesting question. In some cultures (Indian, for example), arranged marriages are still common and parents are very demanding of the spouse’s education, earning power and/or dowry. I think it’s not unwise to have a clear idea what you are marrying into, not just your spouse, but their family’s financial behaviors as well. They will certainly be affecting your marriage.

  4. No subtlety at all – you pay the waiter to skim the credit card they use to pay the bill with and then run the credit check yourself. Geez. Amateurs. That’s after you stuff the glass they drank out of into your purse, to run a DNA test and fingerprint check. Make sure you take a quick rubbing of their license plate and get that tracking device under the front dash while pretending to drop your purse. If he’s a lousy tipper and is rude to the wait staff, skip all that and take a cab home.
    You’re right, Caitlin, that article and comparison to an STD test is very weird.

  5. Definitely. I married a man who, unbeknownst to me, had an abysmal financial track record. I had insisted on a marriage contract, however, (this is not like the American “pre-nup” which can be and is often broken; in Canada marriage contracts are considered to be legally binding and are very rarely modified by judges) and was largely protected when I divorced him. I spent more than enough on him when I was married to him.

    1. Thank heaven for Canadian law! It was a real shock to me getting married in the U.S. (very few legal protections here for women), so I insisted on a pre-nup and alimony, both of which I needed. Without those, I might well have lost my home (and the savings I poured into it.)

      1. Pre-nup and alimony … you must have has a sixth sense about that marriage. Well done you for making sure you were protected especially since you left your country for his. I have a pre-nup story too which is better left for the cocktail hour and a bit of privacy. It’s good book material, but I’m afraid I might get sued even though it’s all true.

      2. Indeed I did. It was doomed before we started and I knew I needed protection financially since my family would not be at all helpful. It was nasty getting divorced (and so soon) but I never feared about income, and that was huge.

        Bring on the martinis! 🙂

  6. Well if someone asks for my credit score on the first date, the first think is, they are after one thing. Your credit score is yours and theirs is theirs. If your actually in love with a person, no score, no matter how bad or good it is will matter.

    1. I actually disagree entirely, but I appreciate your comment…I don’t ever want to be so “in love” with someone that I shut off my faculties of reason and analysis — and end up broke because I failed to look closely at their behavior and choices.

      1. A dollar bill cannot give you a hug when you are sad. And loving someone is not judging them, it’s about accepting them. And if money management is not one of their skills and is one of your skills, then you thus by default would manage the money. The problem occurs when either both partners are bad at managing money, or the person bad with money refuses to let the person good with money manage it.Bad money management, makes a person nor more good or bad as does poor hand writing.

  7. Raven

    I guess most of you know the term ‘going Dutch’? Well I am Dutch. Enough said? So in short no I won’t ask because in all honesty I do not care. And I do not care because regardless why I had the date I have no itention of becoming financially or otherwise dependent on someone I just met. Maybe after a 100 or so dates and if there was a romantic development it might come up. But then again.. as I said, I am Dutch 😉

  8. I’ve always thought there should be some business sensibility applied to a marriage, but this is… hmmm, bewildering. While I can see the rationale behind it, especially in these times, my reaction to this was “eh… seriously?”

    I need to think about getting out from under this rock more often. All these bizarre things happening in society!

    It would be a totally valid interrogation if a long term arrangement was on the cards, but the first couple of dates? Forget romance, what about giving someone the benefit of the doubt at first?

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