Do I Have A Credit Score?
There’s no doubt a credit score is an important part of your life as a consumer. Unless you’re able to pay for something entirely out of pocket, you’d be hard-pressed to afford those big-ticket items – a car, your first home or funds to open your small business.
A credit score is used to predict the chance that you’ll pay back a loan or stay on top of financial commitments. And if you have a thin or nonexistent credit file, you’ll find it harder to secure funding or land the best terms and rates on a loan.
If you’re young, new to the country, are in the military and have been deployed for several months or building credit for the first time, you might be curious if you have a score at all. Contrary to popular belief, not all adults have a credit file. Here’s how to know if you have a credit score:
Why Might I Not Have A Credit Score?
Credit scores are calculated using information reported to the three main consumer credit bureaus — Experian™, Equifax® and TransUnion®. And to have a credit score, you typically need a line of credit that’s been open for at least 6 months.
Per the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), over 45 million people in the U.S. don’t have a credit score. These “credit invisibles” might not have credit that’s maintained by the major credit bureaus, or have a credit file that doesn’t paint the entire picture. They might have financial information that’s outdated or unreliable.
There are a handful of reasons why you might not have a credit score. If you’ve moved here from another country, you’ll need to start from scratch with building your score. And per the CFPB report, having low income also affects whether you have what’s known as an “unscored” credit file.
If you typically pay for things with only cash, or use a debit card for all your transactions, and don’t have any lines of credit, there’s a chance you don’t have a score. You might also not have a credit score if there’s been a lack of activity on your credit for the last 24 months or so.
Do I Have A Credit Score If I’ve Never Had a Credit Card?
It depends. Having a credit card isn’t the only way to have a credit score. You’ll most likely have a credit score if you have at least one credit account open from a company that reports to the credit bureaus. What’s more, it’s been open for at least 6 months. An account that is reported could include a car loan, mortgage, student loans, personal loans, credit card or a line of credit.
However, if you don’t have many lines of credit open, either because you’re relatively young, or froze your credit decades ago and haven’t looked back, you might have a thin credit file. In turn, you might not have a very high score.
Do I Have A Credit Score at 20?
It depends. If you have at least one line of credit that’s been open for at least 6 months, you’ll have a credit score when you’re 20. If you opened a credit card, took a car loan or took on student debt, you will have a credit score. In some cases, if you have a utility bill or cell phone under your name, you might have a score.
The bright side? According to CFPB’s research, over 90 percent of “credit invisibles” establish a credit profile and score by the time they hit their mid-20s. So if you’re in your early 20s and don’t have a credit score or a less-than-stellar one, don’t fret. You can establish credit by opening a credit line.
You might also be able to boost your credit score by reporting nontraditional data, such as your rent, insurance payments, and utility payments. However, for this information to count toward your score, these companies have to report to the credit bureaus.
Does Checking My Score Affect My Credit Score?
While hard inquiries from other entities do impact your credit, you can rest easy knowing that checking it yourself doesn’t affect your score whatsoever.
That’s because checking your own score is considered a “soft inquiry,” so therefore you could be, in fact, helping your credit. When you access your report and take a good look at it, you might find some errors. Plus, seeing the entire picture of your credit, and getting a sense of where you actually stand can help you see exactly how you can make improvements on your score.
Common reasons why your credit score is not as high as you would like:
- Your credit utilization is too high
- You have been late on your payments
- You have missed payments entirely
- You don’t have a mix of credit accounts
A general rule of thumb with building credit is that whatever caused you to have a low score is your path to building it. Late on payments? Make it a priority to pay them on time. If you have multiple cards, you could consider a debt consolidation loan, which can consolidate your credit card payments into one loan with one payment. Don’t have a very diverse mix of credit? Consider ways you can diversify. It’s only after you’re armed with this knowledge that you can take action.
How Do I Check If I Have A Credit Score?
You can check if you have a credit score by ordering a credit report. You can order a report for free from the big three credit reporting agencies – TransUnion®, Equifax® and Experian™. Here’s how it works: You can receive a report for free from each of the agencies during a 12-month period. However, if you want to see your actual score, oftentimes there’s an additional charge.
Credit monitoring platforms such as Rocket HomesSM enables you to check your score and review your credit report, but also offers you pointers on how to boost your score. What’s more, there are a handful of free financial resources and tools you can check out.
Can I Check My Credit Score For Free?
There are a handful of ways you can check your credit score for free. Many credit cards and money management apps offer the option to check it, gratis. You can also visit your profile on Rocket Homes and receive alerts when there are changes to your credit score.
Where Do I Check My Credit Score?
There are a handful of ways to check whether you have a credit score. Money management apps, credit card issuers, and credit monitoring services such as Rocket Homes all offer ways to check your credit score.
There are many ways you can check whether or not you have a credit score. If you have a thin credit file or are in the process of bolstering your score, it’s important to keep an eye on it and check it as often as possible. With a bit of effort and know-how, you’ll be able to make the shift from not having a score to working toward a healthy one. For more information, check out our credit and personal finance learning centers.
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