Here’s what you need to know about military credit checks

Thinking of joining the military? You’re probably aware you’ll have to pass tests related to physical fitness and other capabilities.

But you may also have to show you can clear some financial hurdles as well.

As part of your enlistment, you may have to complete a National Agency Check with Local Agency Checks and Credit Check (NACLC) through the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. The credit check is similar to one run by a civilian employer, but each branch has slightly different requirements for recruits.

What credit score is needed to join the military?

In general, the military isn’t looking for a specific credit score when determining financial eligibility, but excessive debt or delinquent payments could be a red flag for further discussions with your recruiter.

Enlistees who have dependents may need to file for a “dependent waiver,” and show they have the resources to provide for children or others who rely on them for financial support.

“The military doesn’t want you to come to them as a last resort, where you’re just looking for a job to pay off your debt,” says Galen Bargerstock, founder of Government and Civilian Employees Services. “They want service members who are focused on the objective, which is ultimately to protect the country. They don’t want your mind focused somewhere else, worried about personal obligations when you’re supposed to be protecting the country.”

How does it vary among different branches of the military?

In its financial review, the Coast Guard seeks evidence that an applicant has their financial house in order, says Jonathan Lindberg, petty officer first class with the Coast Guard Recruiting Command. Applicants shouldn’t have recent repossession or bankruptcies or be delinquent on payments.

In addition, the Coast Guard requires that applicants’ debt-to-income ratio (the ratio of all personal debt – including credit card debt – to gross personal income) based on their projected Coast Guard salary be lower than 30% in order for them to join. (The debt-to-income ratio limit for reservists who want to join the Coast Guard is 80% since those applicants have other sources of income.)…Read more>>