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10/10/07

What is Universal Default and How Does it Affect Your Credit?

Universal default can be a big problem. Have you ever looked at the terms and conditions of a credit card? Somewhere in the fine print you might discover that your particular credit card is subject to universal default.

What is universal default? Universal default is a practice in the financial industry where a loan that you have goes into default (whatever the default terms are under the agreement of said loan) when you default on another unrelated loan. In other words, if I have two credit cards, Credit Card A and Credit Card B, and Credit Card A is subject to universal default and I have NOT defaulted on said credit card but I have defaulted on Credit Card B, Credit Card A would then be in default.

Why is universal default a problem? Universal default is a problem because it can negatively impact your credit score. If you are never late on any payments, then this financial practice is unimportant, however, if by misfortune, mistake, or some other accident you are late on a loan payment (and thus in default) you can get dinged twice (once for the account for which you are in default and once for the card that practices universal default) for one accident. This in turn has a double negative impact on your credit report and credit score.

Universal default does make some sense if you think about it. A person’s credit worthiness is based on how likely a person is to pay back a loan. The more risky a person, the more unlikely he/she is to pay back a loan. Think about it like this: If a person defaulted on Loan A before applying for Loan B, that person would most likely be denied for Loan B. Why should this change if said person already has acquired Loan B? Is not that person still just as risky before acquiring the loan as he/she is during (post acquisition) the life of that same loan? Although this may be true, my thought is, why put yourself in harms way? Do not take on more risk than you have to. There are plenty of credit card companies that do not practice universal default, therefore, acquire those cards and save yourself the headache should you accidentally or even intentionally miss a payment on one loan.



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