It was recently reported that China blocked 23 million people from buying travel tickets, thanks to their new “social credit” scores.
China’s social credit scores are an Orwellian nightmare come to life.
You can run afoul of the system for almost any behavior considered antisocial — from shorting your taxes… to smoking in prohibited areas… to failing to leash your dog. Even sitting in the wrong reserved seat on a train can get you banned.
And these bans can be life-altering.
Not only can you be barred from planes and trains… Not only can you be prevented from leaving the country…
A bad social score can also keep you off public transit — putting most jobs out of reach for anyone who can’t afford their own car.
And if you think Chinese citizens can fly under the radar, think again.
Starting in December, China will scan and store everyone’s face when they sign up for internet access or get a phone number.
Wow. But individuals are not the only ones at risk…
A company’s bad social score — yes, companies get scored too — can mean loss of access to loans, banishment from government bids and a freeze on corporate bonds.
Bad scores — for people or companies — can even mean you aren’t allowed to own real estate.
It all sounds awful — makes you glad to live in a free society like ours.
Except that we’ve got the exact same thing here.
Orwell Would Be Proud
China’s “social credit” scores are based on a tried-and-true American system: our credit scores.
Just like in China, a bad score can keep you from getting loans or buying property — a bad score can lock you out of a number of financial opportunities.
Of course, there are differences. In the U.S., saying something like “Congress is full of morons” won’t drop your credit score from 780 to 530.
Insult the Communist Party in China, though, and see what happens.
From an American perspective, our credit scores are highly targeted. They’re a useful way to figure out who’s a good financial bet.
China claims that our scores were a good start but they’re antiquated — and a more comprehensive grading system is more useful.
I don’t buy it. But that’s what they’ll tell you.
Regardless, thinking about how harmful bad “social credit” can be in China should throw your own American financial credit scores into stark relief.
If you have a good one, you have access to everything American capitalism has to offer, from business loans to real estate offerings.
If you have a bad one, you can be completely shut out of the system.
The good news is — unlike in China — it can be easy to improve your score. In fact, we’ve got a number of articles to help you do it.
First — if you haven’t already — sign up with a service like Credit Karma and find out what your score is today.
If you’re below 580, check out this article to dig your way out of the hole as fast as possible
If you’re between 580–780, go here to accelerate your progress into the top rungs of scores
And if you’re above 780, this article will help you stay at your lofty heights — and show you how you can leverage your credit score to convert it into cash.
That’s the point of having great credit anyway…
No one cares if your score is 815. But you should care a lot if that 815 score gets you access to a business loan at an attractive rate, which you can quickly turn into an easy moneymaking venture.
That’s why it’s so important you get the best score possible. And why you should count your lucky stars you aren’t in China — where one misread train ticket could mean a life of destitution.
We’re still the land of opportunity. Just remember to grab it.
Editor-in-chief, Unconventional Wealth
P.S. One of the best things about good credit? Credit cards that give you enormous rewards, benefits and savings. It’s like being an inside member of a worldwide sale on everything. Find the best rewards cards right here.
Ryan Cole is the editor-in-chief of Unconventional Wealth. He’s been covering the alternative investment space for nearly a decade and writing about finance and investment for almost 20 years.
Ryan has walked the walk for years, living a very unconventional life. He’s led snowmobile tours through the mountains of Colorado, settled in Japan for five...