In some cases, you might not have enough credit history to have a credit score. Depending on your age, there are several ways to establish credit.
If you are under 21, you must have a cosigner or be able to demonstrate that you have an adequate source of income to pay back any credit that is extended. With responsible usage, a parent cosigning a credit card (or adding you as an authorized user to one of their accounts) is a great way to help establish a positive credit history.
For others, the best way to establish credit may be to work with your bank or credit union to open an account with a small credit limit to get you started. Opening a secured credit card is another way to get started building your credit. Then, with time and good account management, a good credit history (and scores) will be within your reach.
Common Credit Score Facts
Credit Reports and Credit History
Credit scores are not included with credit reports. Additionally, credit scores are not stored as part of your credit history. Your credit score is calculated only when your credit score is requested. Your credit score can change over time, based on your credit history—including late payments, amount of available debt, and more.
Joint accounts are meant to help individuals who cannot qualify for a loan by themselves. With joint accounts, all of the joint account holders, guarantors, and/or cosigners are responsible for repaying the debt. The joint account, along with its credit history, appears on the credit report for all account holders. When all payments are made on time, the joint account can help build positive credit. However, if someone defaults on payments, all of the joint account holders will see the default on their own credit reports. Depending on the severity of the late payments and negative information, everyone’s credit scores could be impacted significantly.
When you get married, your credit scores (or reports) won’t merge with your spouse’s. Joint accounts you share may appear on both of your credit reports, but your credit history will remain independent.
Checking Your Own Credit
Another common question is whether checking your own credit report or score can hurt it. The answer is no. Checking your own credit scores doesn’t lower them. Checking your own credit report creates a special kind of inquiry (known commonly as a soft inquiry) that isn’t considered in credit score calculations. Without the risk of harming your scores by checking your credit report and scores frequently, don’t steer away from viewing them as often as you need to.
How to Improve Your Credit Scores
If you reviewed your credit information and discovered that your credit scores aren’t quite where you thought they’d be, you’re not alone. Since your credit scores use information drawn from your credit report, your credit activity provides a continually-updated basis of data about how responsible you are with the credit you’re currently using. At Experian, we provide information that can help you see your credit in new ways and take control of your financial future. You can learn more about:
- How choices that you make can improve your credit score
- Why using secured credit cards can improve your credit history
- What a credit repair service can – and can’t – do for your credit
- How to protect or restore your good credit after major life events like marriage, divorce, or the death of a spouse
- Why knowing your FICO® Score* is important when you consider making a big purchase
- When you know the kinds of activities in your credit that can affect your scores, you can work to take better care of your credit, too. Things like late payments, liens or bankruptcies all have varying levels of impact in your credit scores since they’re reflected on your credit report, too. Getting familiar with your credit report can help you see the impact these kind of events can have in your credit.