What Is My Credit Score If I Have No Credit History? | Bankrate (2024)

Key takeaways

  • Having no credit history typically means you don't have a credit score at all.
  • This is different from having a low credit score, which can stem from having limited credit history or negative reporting on your credit reports.
  • If you have no credit history at all, building credit from scratch should be one of your goals.
  • Before you can hatch a plan to build your credit, you should check your score to see whether you have one.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, as many as 45 million Americans are “credit invisible,” meaning they have no credit history. In most cases, this means they’ve never had any data reported to one of the three credit bureaus. Because of this, they are likely to encounter roadblocks if they need to access a line of credit.

This does not mean those consumers have a credit score of zero. No credit history associated with a consumer’s profile means they have no credit score at all. Read on to learn what having no credit history means in practical terms and steps you can take to build credit if you need to.

How to check your credit score for free

Do you have a credit score yet? And if you do, is your score higher than you thought? There’s only one way to find out. By taking steps to check your credit score, you can see where you stand — good or bad.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to get a look at your credit score for free. Capital One’s CreditWise program, American Express’s MyCredit Guide and Chase’s Credit Journey are available to all consumers, and they all use TransUnion to generate a VantageScore 3.0 for those who sign up.

You can also sign up for Experian’s free credit monitoring service and get your FICO credit score through them. Certain banks and lenders can also give you access to your FICO score, but you’ll have to reach out to a representative to find out.

If you use any of these websites to check your credit and you don’t have a credit score yet, that likely means you have no credit history — or any history you’ve been building hasn’t registered with the credit bureaus yet. Either way, checking your credit score is the best way to see where you’re starting.

Keep in mind: There are many specialized FICO and VantageScore scoring models out there, which is why your score might vary depending on who’s reporting it. It’s not uncommon for a borrower to see one score when they do a free credit check and then see a slightly different score when a lender pulls their credit for a specific product, like a car loan.

What does “no credit history” mean?

A credit score is a mathematical likelihood of repaying debt that can help lenders decide how risky it would be to lend to you. Credit bureaus compile information about how you’ve handled debt in the past, which is reported by credit card companies and other lenders (like student loan and mortgage providers), and then a credit scoring model uses that information to generate your score.

So, having no credit history doesn’t mean you have never paid any bills. It just means that none of your bills or expenses have been reported to the three major credit bureaus.

You might have no credit history if you have never had a credit card or if you’re someone who prefers to pay for everything from homes to cars with cash. A lack of credit history doesn’t indicate you’re irresponsible, either. Instead, it means you haven’t used financial products that helped you build credit.

Also note that, even when you do get a line of credit, it can take time for a credit score to show up, you can be assigned a VantageScore as soon as a credit account shows up on your credit report, according to Experian. However, you won’t have a FICO credit score — which is used by 90 percent of top lenders, according to FICO — until an account is at least six months old. This means that no credit history can be a prolonged problem, even after you open your first account.

Bankrate Insight

Credit bureaus collect information, and the main three are TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Credit scoring models are like mathematical formulas, and the most common are the FICO and VantageScore models.

How having no credit history affects your score

So, having no credit history means having no credit score. But where will your actual score fall once you begin building credit history?

First off, it’s important to understand that credit scores of zero do not exist. Both the FICO and VantageScore scoring methods range from 300 to 850, so the lowest your credit score can go is 300.

Still, credit scores from 300 to 500 are typically reserved for individuals who have defaulted on some debts or those who have debt in collections. That’s why scores in this range are typically designated as “poor.”

While there is no set beginning credit score for those who are building credit for the first time, the first credit score you see may be closer to the “fair” range than the “poor” range.

6 tips for building your credit score from scratch

If you don’t have enough credit to have a credit score yet, building credit history from scratch can be challenging. The following tips can help you build your credit score from the ground up:

  1. Become an authorized user. Becoming an authorized user on a trusted family member’s credit card can help you build credit provided the card issuer reports authorized user activity to the credit bureaus. Use this strategy only with someone who always pays their bills on time and uses credit responsibly — because their credit mistakes will harm your credit score otherwise.
  2. Get a secured credit card. Secured credit cards require a cash deposit as collateral, but they report your payments to the credit bureaus, thus helping you boost your score with responsible use. Getting this type of credit card with no credit history can even give you the chance to earn rewards with no annual fee.
  3. Consider a credit builder loan. A credit builder loan from a company like Self requires you to make payments toward a savings account that is held on your behalf. Since your payments are reported to the three credit bureaus, these loans can help you build credit and save money simultaneously.
  4. Have your bill payments reported to the credit bureaus. Look for apps that can help you build credit with other bills you pay. For example, Experian Boost can help you build credit using your phone bill, utility bills and recurring subscription services you already pay for.
  5. Pay your bills on time. The most important factor that makes up your FICO score is your payment history, so be sure to always pay bills — credit card, student loan, mortgage and all others — on time no matter what.
  6. Keep your credit card balances low. Once you get access to a credit card, you can boost your score by keeping your credit utilization, or the amount of credit you’re using compared to your available credit, in check. For the most part, you should strive to keep revolving balances below 30 percent of your available credit at most and preferably below 10 percent.

The bottom line

Having no credit history isn’t the end of the world, and in fact, you can think of it as a clean slate. You may not have any credit history yet, but you haven’t made any credit mistakes that could harm your score for years to come.

Our advice? Take some of the steps above to build credit that can benefit you later in life. With time and responsible use, you’ll achieve a good credit score that can open doors to a variety of financial opportunities, including access to better interest rates and better approval odds for some of today’s top credit cards.

What Is My Credit Score If I Have No Credit History? | Bankrate (2024)


What Is My Credit Score If I Have No Credit History? | Bankrate? ›

If you haven't started using credit yet, you would have no credit history and no credit score — also referred to as unscoreable or credit invisible. Starting from scratch with your credit score isn't a bad thing. It just means the credit bureaus don't have enough information to assign you a score yet.

What is my credit score with no credit history? ›

No credit history associated with a consumer's profile means they have no credit score at all.

What if I have good credit but not enough history? ›

In other words, it's possible to have a good credit score but not enough credit history for a lender to feel confident enough to approve you for the loan. And in some cases, the bureau says, you might get credit without a credit score but you'll have to pay a higher interest rate.

How to establish credit with no credit history? ›

7 Ways to Build Credit if You Have No Credit History
  1. Become an authorized user.
  2. Try a credit-building debit card.
  3. Apply for a secured credit card.
  4. Apply for a credit-builder loan.
  5. Apply for a store credit card.
  6. Have rental payments reported.
  7. Establish credit with Experian Go™
Feb 13, 2024

How do you explain no credit score? ›

If you are invisible to the financial system, it means there is not enough information about you on your financial track record. It's known as having a 'thin' or no credit file. This usually means that either you have very few credit accounts, haven't used credit for a long time or have never used it at all.

What is my credit score when I first start? ›

Instead of starting from the bottom, you'll actually start with no credit score instead — and that's not as bad as you might think.

What credit score does an 18 year old start with? ›

At face value, "What does your credit score start at?" can be a trick question. Turns out, you don't actually start with a credit score at all. You're born outside the system. Even when you turn 18, you aren't automatically assigned a credit score.

Can you be denied credit for having no credit history? ›

Short or insufficient credit history

If you lack a credit file and are considered “credit invisible,” you'll find it difficult to be approved for credit cards that require a credit history and perform hard inquiries.

What is more important credit score or history? ›

When applying for most loans, lenders will be sure to focus on your credit score – a three-digit number that plays an important role in qualifying you for loans, credit cards, apartment rentals, and more.  However, your focus should be placed on something else instead: your credit payment history.

How long does it take to clear a bad credit history? ›

Most negative information generally stays on credit reports for 7 years. Bankruptcy stays on your Equifax credit report for 7 to 10 years, depending on the bankruptcy type. Closed accounts paid as agreed stay on your Equifax credit report for up to 10 years.

How can I raise my credit score 100 points overnight? ›

10 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score
  1. Review Your Credit Report. ...
  2. Pay Your Bills on Time. ...
  3. Ask for Late Payment Forgiveness. ...
  4. Keep Credit Card Balances Low. ...
  5. Keep Old Credit Cards Active. ...
  6. Become an Authorized User. ...
  7. Consider a Credit Builder Loan. ...
  8. Take Out a Secured Credit Card.

Is no credit history better than bad credit? ›

Having no credit is better than having bad credit, though both can hold you back. Bad credit shows potential lenders a negative track record of managing credit. Meanwhile, no credit means lenders can't tell how you'll handle repaying debts because you don't have much experience.

How to fix really bad credit? ›

Here are seven steps you can take to begin improving your credit score.
  1. Check Your Credit Score And Credit Report. ...
  2. Fix or Dispute Any Errors. ...
  3. Always Pay Your Bills On Time. ...
  4. Keep Your Credit Utilization Ratio Below 30% ...
  5. Pay Down Other Debts. ...
  6. Keep Old Credit Cards Open. ...
  7. Don't Take Out Credit Unless You Need It.
Feb 8, 2024

What is the lowest credit score you can have? ›

The lowest score you can get with either model is 300, though past scoring models have gone lower (and aren't used so much today). According to FICO, an estimated 11.1% of Americans have a FICO score ranging between 300 and 549 as of 2019.

Does paying rent build credit? ›

"Paying rent can build credit if your payments are reported," says Rod Griffin, senior director of consumer education and advocacy for the credit bureau Experian. "Unfortunately, that's not the norm, as most landlord and rent management companies don't report rent payments."

What is considered sufficient credit history? ›

Most lenders (and scoring models) consider anything less than two years of credit history to be little more than a decent start. When you get into the two- to four-year range, you're just taking the training wheels off. Having at least five years of good credit history puts you in the middle of the pack.

How much is sufficient credit history? ›

If you are building your credit from scratch, then two years of the right credit behaviors and credit history should be enough to help you qualify for a home loan.

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