You join a gym to get fit, but membership contracts and unexpected bills can potentially leave your credit score in bad shape. Fitness clubs may send your account to collections if you miss payments, turning misunderstandings into recurring problems and frequent reports to credit bureaus. Even years down the road, old debts from canceled gym memberships could come back to haunt you.
Complicated membership contracts often contain clauses that make it difficult to understand how to keep out of trouble. Fortunately, it’s easy to protect yourself when you have the right information and know what to look out for.
What You Need to Know About Your Gym Membership
Understanding the terms of your accounts and any potential credit implications is crucial to maintaining a healthy credit score. These are some of the most common questions about gym memberships and their potential impact on your credit.
Are gym memberships legally binding?
Despite claims made by many gyms that their memberships are risk-free and come with no commitments, gym contracts are legal documents and often require you to pay whether you’re using the facilities or not. It’s important to carefully read any contract you’re asked to sign to make sure you’re not getting more than you bargained for.
Can a gym membership affect your credit score?
Any missed payment can cause a drop to your credit score. Unexpected fees may put you into overdraft, and if your membership dues are paid automatically, you could run into trouble with an expired credit card. Accounts in arrears may be sent to a collection agency, resulting in ongoing pings against your credit rating until the debt is paid.
Can you get sent to collections without a Social Security number?
It’s a common misconception that credit bureaus require an SSN to process reports. Collections agencies only need your name and address, along with the amount owed, to start impacting your credit score.
How much do you have to pay to cancel Planet Fitness?
As of 2019, if you’re in the first year of a 12-month commitment with a Black Card membership, Planet Fitness charges a cancellation fee of $58. After the first year or with a commitment-free Classic plan, there is no fee to cancel your membership.
Keep Your Fitness Club Membership From Destroying Your Credit
Taking control of your personal finances starts with knowledge. These simple steps can help you protect yourself against many of the potential problems that might come with your gym membership.
1. Read and understand your contract
You may feel pressured by salespeople to sign a contract on the spot when you apply for a gym membership, but there’s no need to rush. Ask for time to read over the contract and make sure you know what you’re getting into.
Look out for some of these most important points that should be clearly addressed in your membership agreement.
- How long are you obligated by the contract?
- What happens if you decide to cancel? How much notice must you give? Are there penalties for canceling early?
- Can you put your membership on hold, and if so, what are the procedures?
2. Keep a copy for your records
Once you’ve joined, make sure you save your contract along with any other documentation your gym gives you. You can keep all this information in a physical file folder or scan it and save it online. Just make sure you keep it for the duration of your membership.
3. Document changes
If you make any changes to your account—such as placing it on hold, adding a family member or canceling it—be sure to get those changes in writing and keep a copy alongside your contract. Keeping your information organized in one place makes it much easier to deal with any issues that arise.
4. Check your credit
If you do encounter a problem, check your free credit reports to see whether a collection account has been listed. It’s also a good idea to monitor your credit scores, which you can do for free at Credit.com. Checking your credit scores helps you keep tabs on your credit.
5. Know your rights
If you are contacted by a collection agency for one of these accounts, you have the right to receive a written notice of the debt and to dispute it. There are federal protections in place that give you options when dealing with debt collectors.
If it’s a very old account, it shouldn’t show up on your credit reports. Collection accounts can only be reported for 7 years plus 180 days from the date you fell behind with the original creditor before the account was turned over to collections. If an old collection account shows up in your reports, dispute it.
Free Yourself From Credit Doubts
Armed with the information you need to understand your contracts and credit concerns, you shouldn’t have to break a sweat to keep on top of your finances. Sign upfor a Credit Report Card and receive the latest tips and advice from Credit.com’s team of 50+ credit and money experts, as well as a free Credit Score and action plan.