Renters: You may know your budget and the number of rooms you need, but do you know your credit score? Also called a FICO score, your credit rating is a number that expresses your creditworthiness, i.e., whether or not you're a risk to lenders based on your previous financial history.
"After your social security number, your FICO credit score is the most important number in your financial life," says Ivan Chong, founder of LazyFinances.com, a personal-finance advice site.
So why does your credit score matter so much if you're renting property? Because it details your history of paying off—or not paying off—debts. A landlord uses it to see how likely you are to pay your rent on time. The lower your credit score, the less likely your property manager is to accept your rental application. That means this three-digit score could make the difference between landing that dream two-bedroom or settling for a so-so pad with dated appliances. Which brings us to an important question: What's the lowest credit score you need to rent an apartment?