At a Glance
It can be a challenging experience to apply for new credit when you have no credit score, i.e., getting your first credit card. However, there are helpful strategies you can adopt to improve your chances of successfully qualifying for the credit you need. Patience and responsible financial habits are crucial to building trust with potential lenders and eventually attaining a favorable credit score.
In this article, you’ll learn:
of Americans don’t have a credit file or don’t have enough information in their file to be scorable.
A credit score is a three-digit number that is calculated based on your credit history. It factors in your payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, types of credit accounts, and recent credit inquiries.
Lenders, like banks and credit card companies, use that credit score to determine your ability to repay debts and whether to approve credit applications as well as what interest rates to offer. Generally, a higher credit score indicates a lower credit risk, which can lead to more favorable lending terms and access to credit products with lower interest rates.
Related: Credit Score Ranges
How can you have no credit score?
Having no credit score is possible if you have never used credit or borrowed money from lenders. This can be common for young adults who have not yet had the opportunity to establish credit or for those who have always relied on cash for their purchases and expenses.
Another reason someone may have no credit score is if they have not used credit in a long time. Credit scores are based on credit activity, so if you have not used credit for several years, your credit history may not be recent enough to generate a score.
Lastly, having no credit score could be due to errors or inaccuracies on your credit report. If you have a limited credit history, it’s important to regularly check your credit report to ensure that all information is accurate and up-to-date. If there are any errors, you can dispute them with the credit reporting agencies and have them corrected.
How can you get credit with no credit score?
It is possible to apply and get approved for credit even if you don’t have a credit score. Here are five ways you can potentially qualify for credit:
1. Credit builder loans
Getting a credit builder loan is a great way to build a positive credit history so you can generate a score. Here are some tips on how to get one:
- Look for credit unions or community banks:Credit unions and community banks may be more willing to work with borrowers who have no credit score, as they often focus on serving their local communities. Reach out to a few institutions and ask if they offer credit builder loans for borrowers with no credit.
- Consider a secured loan:A secured loan requires you to put up collateral, like a savings account or a car, in order to obtain the loan. This can be a good option for those with no credit, as the collateral reduces the lender’s risk.
- Look for alternative lenders:Some alternative lenders specialize in working with borrowers who have no credit score. These lenders may have higher interest rates or require collateral, but they can provide an option for building credit.
Learn more: What is a Credit Builder Loan?
2. Secured credit cards
Getting a secured credit card can be a good option for building credit. To get one, look for secured credit cards that are designed for people with no credit or bad credit. These cards typically require a security deposit, which serves as collateral for your credit limit. The amount varies depending on the credit card issuer, but it typically ranges from $200 to $500.
Once you have the security deposit amount, you can apply for the secured credit card. You’ll need to provide your personal information and the security deposit, and the card issuer will run a credit check. Once you receive your secured credit card, use it responsibly. Make small purchases each month and pay the balance in full by the due date. This will help you build a positive credit history and improve your credit score over time.
After several months of responsible use, you may be able to upgrade to an unsecured credit card. This means you’ll get your security deposit back and have a higher credit limit. You’ll also have the opportunity to build credit further with an unsecured credit card.
Related: Credit Cards for No Credit
3. Authorized users
Becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account, such as a parent or spouse, can be a good way for someone with no credit to start establishing a credit history. When you become an authorized user, you are added to the primary cardholder’s credit card account as a user. The primary cardholder remains responsible for making payments on the account, but your name is also reported to the credit bureaus as an authorized user. This means you can start building a credit history based on the primary cardholder’s account activity.
Here are some tips for becoming an authorized user:
- Choose the right primary cardholder: The primary cardholder should be someone who has a good credit history and makes on-time payments. If they have a history of late payments or high credit utilization, it could hurt your credit score.
- Monitor the account: As an authorized user, you should monitor the account activity regularly to ensure that the primary cardholder is making on-time payments and keeping credit utilization low. You don’t want their negative activity to negatively impact your credit score.
- Use the card responsibly: While you may not be responsible for making payments on the card, it’s important to realize your actions will impact your credit score. Use the card responsibly and make sure that you’re not overspending or using the card in a way that could harm your score.
Becoming an authorized user can be a good way to start building credit, but keep in mind that it’s not a long-term solution. Eventually, you’ll need to establish your own credit history by applying for credit, like a credit card, personal loan, or auto loan in your own name.
4. Loan with a co-signer
Another option to access credit without a credit score could be to get a loan with a co-signer. When you apply for a loan with a co-signer, the co-signer agrees to take responsibility for the loan if you are unable to make payments. The co-signer’s credit history is also taken into account when the lender evaluates the loan application. If they have a good credit history, it can help you qualify for the loan and get better loan terms, like a lower interest rate.
Remember that getting a loan with a co-signer is a big responsibility for both you and the co-signer. If you are unable to make payments, it can negatively impact both of your credit scores. Ensure you understand the loan terms and are committed to making on-time payments to establish a positive credit history.
Compare: Personal Loans with a Cosigner
5. Starter credit cards
Finally, getting a starter credit card can also help you start building credit, even if you have no credit score. Some credit card companies offer starter credit cards specifically for people with no credit history. These cards may have lower credit limits and higher interest rates but can help you start building credit.
Some stores also offer credit cards to people with limited credit history. If you choose to go this route, be sure to choose a card from a store you regularly shop at and read the terms and conditions carefully. Make sure you understand all of the fees, charges and interest rates associated with the card before signing up.
When applying for a credit card with a bank or store, be prepared to provide proof of income, like pay stubs or bank statements. This will help the issuer determine if you can make payments on the card.
Remember to use your new card responsibly by making on-time payments and keeping your credit utilization low. This will help you build a positive credit history over time.
Important things to know when you have no credit score
1. You may still have credit reports
You may assume you don’t have a credit report if you have never taken out a loan or used a credit card. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Credit reporting agencies compile credit reports based on information like your employment history, address, and payment history for bills like rent, utilities, and cell phone bills. If you have any of these accounts in your name, your payment history may be reported to the credit bureaus and may be used to create a credit report.
It’s important to keep an eye on your credit reports, even if you don’t have a credit score, to ensure they are accurate and address any errors or discrepancies. You can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once a year.
Related: How to read a credit report?
2. You may not have a credit score even with open accounts
It’s possible to have open credit accounts and still not have a credit score. This is because credit scores are typically calculated based on your credit history, which requires a minimum amount of credit activity to generate a score. If you have recently opened a credit account and haven’t yet used it, or if you have very little credit activity, it’s possible that you don’t yet have a credit score. In this case, it’s important to start using your credit accounts responsibly in order to build a positive credit history and eventually generate a credit score. Additionally, if you’ve recently moved to the United States or are otherwise new to credit, establishing a credit history and generating a credit score may take some time.
3. No credit score does not mean bad credit
It’s important to remember that having no credit score does not necessarily mean that you have bad credit. Having no credit history is different from having a poor credit history. While having a poor credit history can make it difficult to obtain credit or get approved for loans, having no credit history simply means that lenders and credit reporting agencies have no record of your credit activity. This can be a disadvantage when applying for credit, as lenders may be hesitant to approve you without a credit history, but it also means that you have a clean slate and the opportunity to build a positive credit history from scratch.
4. It can take time to build a credit score
If you have no credit score, it’s important to know that it can take time to build a credit history and generate a credit score. Building a credit history takes time because it is based on a pattern of credit usage over an extended period, so you’ll need to use credit responsibly for several months or even years before you can generate a credit score. It’s important to be patient and persistent in building your credit, as having a good credit score can open up opportunities for loans, credit cards, and other financial products with favorable terms and conditions.
Here are some ways you can build your credit:
- Open a credit account: Start by opening a credit account, like a starter credit card or a small personal loan.
- Make payments on time: Make sure to pay your bills on time, as payment history is a major factor in calculating your credit score.
- Keep your credit utilization low: Keep your credit utilization—the amount of credit you’re using compared to your credit limit—below 30%.
- Monitor your credit report: Check your credit report annually for errors or fraudulent activity and dispute any errors you find.
- Keep old accounts open: Keeping old accounts open can help increase the length of your credit history.
- Apply for credit sparingly: Avoid applying for too much credit at once, as multiple inquiries can negatively impact your credit score.
Your credit score is calculated using various factors, such as your payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, types of credit, and recent credit inquiries. The most commonly used credit scoring models are the FICO score and the VantageScore. The higher your score, the better your creditworthiness is perceived to be.
To calculate your credit score, credit reporting agencies gather information from your credit reports, which include details of your credit accounts, payment history, and other financial activities. They then use a proprietary algorithm to assign a score based on the information in your credit report.
Learn more: How is Your Credit Score Calculated?
Having a credit score is not strictly necessary, but it can be very helpful in many aspects of life. If you plan on borrowing money or applying for credit, having a good credit score can make it easier to get approved and can also result in more favorable terms and interest rates. Similarly, if you’re looking to rent an apartment or apply for a job that requires a credit check, having a good credit score can improve your chances of being accepted.
That being said, if you choose to live a debt-free lifestyle and avoid borrowing money altogether, you may not need to worry about having a credit score. However, keep in mind that even if you don’t use credit, your credit history may still be reported to credit bureaus based on other financial activities, like paying bills or utilities on time. So, in general, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your credit score and credit report, even if you don’t plan on using credit in the near future.