Why Don't I Have a Credit Score?
If you're checking your credit to see where you stand, you're following wise advice. Unfortunately, if you haven't had much experience with credit, you may not have a credit score at all. Don't worry, though—you didn't do anything wrong and you're not alone. More than 45 million adults don't have a FICO score, according to the 2015 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report on "credit invisibles."
This commonly happens to people who haven't established credit histories, especially young adults. It can also occur if you've had credit previously, but all your credit accounts remained dormant for several months, or they were closed.
Two Reasons You May Not Have a Credit Score
Understanding how credit scores are calculated can help you better understand why you don't have a score. Credit scores are a numerical summary of information in your credit report. The scores are used to gauge your creditworthiness and predict the likelihood that you'll pay your debts on time. Higher credit scores indicate that you're more likely to repay credit obligations based on how you've handled credit in the past.
The information in your credit report is a compilation of your credit accounts, including credit cards, loans, and any negative records such as debt collections or lawsuit judgments. If you've never had any of these types of accounts, that explains why you don't have a credit score. With no credit history, there is nothing to score.
Say you recently opened your first credit card, but you've only had it for a few months. You may not have a credit score yet. The FICO score requires at least one account that's been active for six months. Once your account has enough history, you'll be able to retrieve a credit score.
You might not have used any of your credit accounts for several months or even years. In that case, you wouldn't have a credit score, despite having a credit history, because all of your accounts have been inactive for so long. FICO requires that you have at least one account that's been active within the past six months as well. You should begin using your accounts again—as long as they're not closed—to reestablish a credit score.
How to Check Your Credit History
You can obtain a recent copy of your credit report to see your credit history. If you've never had a credit account, though, you may not be able to access your credit report. After all, there can be no credit report without some type of credit history.
You have credit scores based on each of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. It's possible to have a credit score with one bureau and not the others if the account(s) you have open do not report your history to all three credit bureaus.
How to Establish Your Credit Score
To get approved for most credit cards and loans, you need to have a credit score. Creditors and lenders use your credit score to approve your application. Getting the first credit card can be tough, but there are a few options for beginners or second timers. Some of those options include:
- Apply at your local bank or credit union, especially if you already have a checking or savings account there.
- Apply for a student credit card, if you're an enrolled student.
- Apply for a retail store credit card.
- Apply for a secured credit card, which requires a deposit to secure your credit limit.
- Get a joint credit card with a friend or relative.
- Become an authorized user on a friend or relative's existing credit card.
After you've opened a credit account (that reports to at least one of the major credit bureaus) and you've used it for six months, you should start seeing a credit score and report under your name. Be sure to monitor and manage your credit wisely, so you can continually improve your score over time.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Data Point: Credit Invisibles." Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.
FICO. "Ask FICO: No FICO® Score? What Should I Do?" Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.
FICO. "Why Are My FICO® Scores Different for the 3 Credit Bureaus?" Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.