In a recent survey, 36% of people said that the last time they saw their credit score, they were applying for a loan. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s also not the ideal time to find out what’s going on with your credit… especially if you discover there’s a problem.

I’m Adam Levin and this is the Wall Street Journal Credit Minute.

You should be checking your credit scores before you need them, because if you wait until the last minute, and you find a problem, it’ll probably be too late to do anything about it. Here are 7 situations where you don’t want to get caught with your score down…

One. You’re Moving.

If you plan on renting a home or apartment, many landlords want to look at your credit.

Two. You Plan To Buy or Refinance a Home.

A small difference in your interest rate can add up to tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.

Three. You Need A Loan.

Applying for loans or credit cards you can’t possibly qualify for can be frustrating and hurt your score.

Four. You’re Getting Cable, a Cellphone or Utility Service.

A good credit score can mean the difference between unconditional approval and having to put up a deposit.

Five. You’re Job Hunting.

Even though employers don’t get credit scores, your score can alert you to potential issues that will negatively impact your prospective employer’s opinion of you.

Six. You’re Getting Married.

Knowing where both spouses stand can only help you better understand how you can help each other build and manage independent and joint credit profiles.

Seven. You’re Getting Divorced.

Separation or divorce can wreak havoc on your credit scores so this is one time when keeping tabs on your credit is a necessity.

It’s always best to know the score so you don’t lose an opportunity or are forced to pay more.

I’m Adam Levin of and this is the Wall Street Journal Credit Minute.

An audio version of this story was originally broadcast as part of The Credit Minute series on the Wall Street Journal Radio Network.