Bail bond companies are primarily cash businesses, meaning that people typically pay the fee using cash, checks, or debit cards. So people generally don't need to worry about their credit ratings when they have to bail themselves or someone else out of jail. However, here are three times when you may need good credit to get a bail bond.
The Bail Bondsman Accepts a Payment Arrangement
A survey conducted by CashNetUSA in 2013 found 46 percent of participants had less than $800 in savings and 22 percent had less than $100 to pay for unexpected expenses. It's safe to say most people who get a 2 a.m. call from a loved one looking for help bailing them out of jail probably won't have the funds available to pay the bond.
In some cases, a bail bond company will let people pay the required fee over a period of time (e.g., 6 months). However, a company that makes these kinds of arrangement will want to ensure people can and will pay the money as agreed, and it may pull credit reports to see how applicants have handled their bills in the past. The better your credit score, the more comfortable the agent will feel approving the transaction.
That doesn't mean you'll automatically be denied if you have damaged credit, though. The company will factor in other elements, such your employment history and whether you've done business with the company before, into its decision. In the worst-case scenario, the company may ask you to put up some collateral to back the agreement, which will be returned to you once you've paid off the fee.
You Co-Sign a Bail Bond
Another time your credit score may be a factor is if you co-sign a bail bond agreement with another person. For one reason or another, the original applicant couldn't be approved using his or her own financial resources. As a co-signer, you agree to be held liable for paying the bond fee if the original applicant defaults on the contract. So the company wants to make sure you have a good history of paying your debts.
The same rules apply here as they would if you were the original applicant. The company will check your score and employment history and verify your residence and contact information. Since there are multiple people on the loan application who can be held responsible for the money in case of a default, the company may not require collateral if your score is less than perfect. However, this will likely depend on the amount of the fee and length of the contract. If the fee is high (e.g., $10,000) or it will take a long time to pay the fee off (e.g., a year), the company may ask for a car title or other type of security just in case.
You Take Out a Personal Loan
The third time your credit will become an issue is if you decide to get the money from a private financial institution such as a credit union or bank. These places will definitely check your credit to see if you have a good payment history. Even calling your credit card company and asking for a higher limit may trigger a credit check if you've had trouble paying your bill in the past.
The benefit of going this route is that you may get better terms on the money than you would if you contracted directly with the bail bond company. However, this depends entirely on your score. The lower your score, the higher the interest rate the bank will charge.
It's important to note that there are lots of bail bond companies who don't require credit checks, so it's worth the effort to shop around if your score is less than stellar. For more information about bail bonds, contact a bondsman in your area, or click here to read more.