Having a gym membership is a financial responsibility, just like any other monthly commitment.
You are expected to pay on time and meet your contract.
Otherwise, you could get suspended from the gym, kicked out, or even reported to credit bureaus!
Let’s dig into it:
Do gyms check your credit when you join? And what else do you need to know about gyms and credit scores?
Some, but not all, gyms will run what’s called a soft credit check before you join. Your credit score could affect your payment options as a member. And while your monthly gym payments don’t help you build credit, they could be turned over to collections if you’re long overdue, which can hurt your score.
Let’s find out more about how gyms affect your credit.
Before You Join (Do Gyms Check Your Credit?)
While it is not a requirement to check a new member’s credit score, some gyms may take a look at your credit and see what kind of rating you have before allowing you to join.
This can be done with either a soft pull or hard pull, depending on the gym and what they’re looking for:
Soft Pull Credit Check
A soft pull only gives the gym (or any other credit checker) a snapshot view of your credit score and a quick overview of what your credit may look like.
It does not show on your credit report and has no impact on your credit rating.
If a gym checks your credit before you join (and again, not all of them do), it will likely be a soft check.
Examples of other soft checks might be checking your own credit online or as part of a background check done when starting a new job.
Hard Pull Credit Check
However, if you sign and give approval for a hard pull on your credit, that inquiry will reflect on your credit report.
Hard pulls are more detailed reports and usually stay on your record for approximately two years.
These more detailed credit checks can have an affect on your credit score, especially if you rack up a lot of them. However, one here or there is unlikely to make a huge difference.
Other hard credit checks usually occur when applying for a credit card or a mortgage.
It’s not likely that a big box gym will run a hard credit check on you before you join, however, you should ask a manager to be certain.
When the gym pulls these credit checks, it is not meant to deny you membership but to determine the best course of action for you to pay.
For example, if you have excellent credit, you may have an option to pay as you choose each month or put the account on automatic draft.
For those with lower credit scores, it may be a requirement for you to provide information for a credit card or bank account for an automatic draft.
(This can also be something to keep in mind when negotiating your gym membership.)
Are My Payments Posted To My Credit?
Gym membership payments are not recorded on your credit report in the same way a credit card payment is.
It works more like utility payments where you make your payment, and there is no reflection unless you create a habit of late or missed payments.
Late or Missed Payments
Of course, even members with a great credit score can sometimes fall into a habit of late or missed payments.
If you happen to make a late payment, you can usually expect a late fee to be tacked onto next month’s bill, in addition the cost of your gym membership.
If your late payments become a chronic problem, the account manager may request that you pay in drafted payments moving forward to keep your membership active.
Missed payments could result in much more severe consequences.
Not only will you accrue late fees for the month or months you have missed, but you could find yourself suspended for the gym or even have your membership revoked.
Even if your membership is suspended or canceled by the facility, you are responsible for any outstanding debts that you owe.
Do Late Gym Payments Affect Your Credit?
Just like utility companies, the gym may not report online payments, but once your account is 90 days past due, it moves into collections territory, and it can be reported to the three credit bureaus.
Again, gym management will likely try other methods to bring your account up to date first. But this is a possibility if you haven’t paid in several months.
This will adversely affect your credit score, causing the most impact early on and then slowly declining over the years.
If the amount you owe is significant, you could even be taken to a small claims court in your area and sued by the gym to get your money.
That will place a judgment on your credit report, which has even more damage than a credit collection.
(For more, check out what to do if you can’t afford your gym membership anymore.)
Credit Scores & Canceling Your Gym Membership
If you have been going to your gym for a while and think it is time to part ways, you need to be aware of the cancellation policy you signed in your membership packet.
Some gyms offer a free cancellation at any time, which is great news and means that you will not have any outstanding debts once you cancel your membership.
Other gyms, however, require you to be a member for a specific time period, so you can face an unwanted fee if you break your contract early and cancel your membership.
However, canceling your gym membership does not have the same harmful effect on your credit score that perhaps a credit card would have if you closed the account suddenly.
Because these payments are not regularly posted to the credit bureaus, there is no need to report the closing of the account.
Before you join a gym, here are a few tips to keep your credit crystal clear:
First, read everything in your contract. Know exactly what kind of credit check, if any, you’ve agreed to. If you’re unsure, ask the manager!
Your monthly gym payments are not reflected on your credit report, so you don’t build credit by joining a gym and paying on time. But you could hurt yourself by not paying your dues on time.
When the membership is canceled, you do not need to worry about the effects on your credit. Your gym account is never reported to credit bureaus unless it’s turned over to collections.
For more, check out:
- Do gyms ask for your Social Security Number?
- Do gyms have a dress code?
- What time do gyms open and close?
Hope this helps!