What credit score do you start with? I get this question from many of my credit repair clients.
It’s a common myth that you begin with a certain number, but your credit journey starts from zero or even at 350.
Acquiring your first credit score isn’t instant; it’s the result of initiating credit history through activities like opening a credit account.
This guide cuts through the confusion, detailing how a starting credit score is established and providing practical steps to build and maintain a healthy credit profile over time.
Credit Plush Insights
- Credit scores in the US range from 300 to 850, with initial scores typically starting between 350 and 700; scores from FICO require at least a six-month-old credit account with recent activity, while VantageScore can be generated with less history.
- Your credit score calculation is based on a mix of factors, including your payment history, the amount owed, the length of your credit history, your credit mix, and any new credit you might have applied for.
Understanding Your Initial Credit Score
Credit scores are numerical representations of financial trustworthiness, with most initial scores falling between 350 and 700 points.
However, you might find yourself with a score of zero or undetermined if you lack any credit-establishing activities, which is where your first credit score start comes into play.
To better understand how credit scores work, it’s essential to be aware of these factors.
Some of those factors are:
- Hard Inquiries
- Credit Mix
- Payment History
- Credit Utilization Ratio
- Credit Age
Key factors such as derogatory marks, the length and diversity of your credit history, and your repayment behaviors play significant roles in calculating your initial credit score and building a positive credit history.
The Role of Credit Bureaus
In the United States, three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – are responsible for collecting financial information about individuals.
They create unique credit reports based on the information provided to them by creditors. These reports, which include details on payment history and credit utilization, are used by lenders to evaluate your creditworthiness.
The credit bureaus are also responsible for maintaining records of your credit history, including details on credit accounts, public records, and inquiries.
FICO vs. VantageScore
FICO and VantageScore are the two primary credit scoring models, each with its unique formula for calculating credit scores.
FICO requires a credit account to be at least six months old with activity during the past six months to generate a score, while VantageScore can score with just one account, potentially less than six months old.
Both models use a 300-to-850 score range, with a score of at least 670 for FICO and 700 for VantageScore, which is generally considered good credit.
Establishing Your First Credit Account
Taking the first step in your credit journey can seem daunting, but it’s an important milestone. The journey of building your credit history begins with:
- Establishing your first credit account
- This could be a student credit card or a retail credit card
- Both often have more relaxed underwriting criteria and offer rewards for paying on time
Yet, bear in mind that a retail credit card could affect your initial credit score due to hard inquiries and a possible decrease in the average age of accounts, given their typically lower credit limits.
Types of Credit Accounts
Various credit account types are available for consideration when embarking on your credit journey.
Credit cards, particularly student and secured credit cards, are often considered essential for building a credit score.
Secured credit cards require an upfront deposit as collateral and set a spending limit equal to the deposit.
These cards report payment behaviors to credit bureaus, helping establish a credit history.
Another option is personal loans, which offer flexible borrowing amounts tailored to meet diverse financial needs.
Nevertheless, be aware that payday and title loans only appear on credit reports if they are in collections.
Authorized Users and Cosigners
Becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card or having a cosigner can also help build your credit history.
Authorized users can use the credit card and build a payment history, but the primary user is still accountable for making payments.
This strategy can be particularly beneficial if the account has a high credit limit and a good payment history, as it can contribute positively to your credit score.
Maintaining a Healthy Credit Score
After establishing your starting credit score, the subsequent step in your financial journey is maintaining a healthy credit score.
This involves making on-time payments, keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30%, and regularly monitoring your credit reports for discrepancies.
Additionally, having a diverse credit mix can contribute positively to your overall credit profile.
Setting up payment reminders or alerts and automating payments can prevent late payments and safeguard your credit score.
Also, aligning your credit card payment due dates with your paycheck schedules can facilitate timely payments, contributing to your credit score health.
Your payment history plays a significant role in your credit scores. Making consistent on-time payments on your loans and credit cards can increase your credit score.
However, late or missed payments can have a lasting negative effect, remaining on your credit report for approximately seven years and negatively affecting your creditworthiness.
Automating your payments for the minimum amount due can help prevent missed payments, but paying more than the minimum is essential to keeping your debt levels manageable.
Credit Utilization Ratio
Your credit utilization ratio, calculated by dividing your credit card debt by your total credit limits, reflects the percentage of available credit you use.
Keeping this ratio below 30% of available limits is recommended for a good credit score, with the most favorable scores showing utilization under 10%.
However, a high credit utilization ratio can suggest excessive reliance on credit and can lower your credit score.
To decrease your credit utilization, consider paying off your card balances before the end of the billing cycle and maintaining lower balances to improve your credit scores.
Monitoring and Improving Your Credit Score
Consistent monitoring and enhancement of your credit scores is vital to managing your financial health.
Regular credit score monitoring can help you avoid any errors or possible fraudulent activity and alert you to major changes in your credit score or potential data breaches.
Frequent checks on your credit card account can inform you about your due payment dates and present balance. Also, disputing errors on your credit reports is an effective way to improve your credit scores.
Free Credit Score Resources
Monitoring your credit score doesn’t have to be expensive. There are a ton of free resources around credit you can leverage.
Many banks, credit card issuers, popular personal finance apps, and credit monitoring services offer individuals free access to their credit scores.
Experian, one of the major credit bureaus, also allows consumers to check their credit scores without a fee.
Services like Experian Boost can improve your FICO scores by adding cellphone and utility bill payments to your credit file.
Work With A Credit Repair Company
So you got your free credit score but have no idea where you need to fix your score or what to do next? Consider working with a credit repair company.
After starting my own credit repair business, many companies can also help you.
They can help you understand the factors affecting your score and develop solutions to build your credit.
Many companies provide free consultations so that you can learn more about how they can help before deciding whether or not to work together.
Regardless of your chosen method, credit repair companies can help repair bad credit, and it doesn't hurt to hop on a free consultation call.
In conclusion, understanding, establishing, and maintaining a healthy credit score is crucial to managing your finances.
By considering these strategies, you can confidently navigate your credit journey and achieve your financial goals.
What credit score does an 18 year old start with?
An 18-year-old doesn't start with a specific credit score; it depends on their credit history. They may not have a credit score at all if they have no credit history.
How long does it take to get a credit score of 700?
It generally takes three to six months to build credit from scratch and achieve a credit score of 700 within a year. However, reaching an excellent credit rating will require several years of consistently responsible credit habits.
Do you start with 1000 credit score?
No, there is no such thing as starting with a 1000 credit score. If you haven't used credit yet, you won't have a credit score.
Is A 600 A Good credit score?
A credit score of 600 is generally considered to be a bad credit score. You may qualify for a loan, but the terms and rates may not be favorable.
How can I establish my first credit account?
To establish your first credit account, consider opening a student or secured credit card or becoming an authorized user on someone else's credit card.
These are good ways to begin building your credit history and score.