Your credit score is the pulse of your financial well-being. The truth is that everyone starts without a credit score. You won’t even have a credit score until you start using credit. Your credit score is based on your past credit history. So, if you’ve never used a credit card or gotten a loan, you won’t have any.
- Everyone starts off without a credit score
- Credit scores range from 300 to 850
- You won’t have a score for at least 6 months after you apply for credit
- People can start building credit before you turn 18 by becoming an authorized user on your parent’s credit cards
You become legally eligible to apply for credit when you turn 18, but you can actually start building credit before that. Contrary to popular belief, your credit score doesn’t actually start at zero. It’s also worth noting that not everyone starts off with the same credit score either.
Credit scores range from 300 to 850 and each credit reporting agency will assign you a different score. This is because each credit reporting agency uses a different scoring model.
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The score you start off with will depend on a multitude of different factors such as:
- The type of credit you applied for
- The amount of credit you applied for
- Age of your credit history
These are just a few of the basic factors which impact your credit score. An important thing to keep in mind is that you won’t have a credit score roughly 6 months after you start applying for credit cards or loans. This is because the credit reporting agencies have yet to generate your credit history reports.
What Credit Score Do You Start With at 18
As previously mentioned, the score you start with depends on a culmination of factors. Most people who have no previous credit history will tend to start within the range of 500 to 700 once the credit reporting agencies generate your score.
- Credit reporting agencies’ scoring models start at 300, but it’s unlikely that your score will start that low. The reason most credit scores don’t generate below 500 initially is that scores below 500 typically indicate that you have gotten in trouble with your credit in the past.
- You can start building credit before age 18 by becoming an authorized user on your parent’s credit cards. This is a great way to start building your credit early.
- When you start building your credit, it’s important to keep your credit utilization and spending habits low. If you start having poor spending habits along with pushing your credit limit, your credit score can be impacted.
What Does Your Credit Score Mean?
Establishing a credit score is the first step towards building your credit. It shows that you have at least enough history of credit to generate your score. Your credit score is a reflection of your creditworthiness to lenders and banks.
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Your credit score is based on you credit history, level of debt, repayment history, number of open accounts and more. Lenders use your credit score to determine the probability of loan repayment. The higher your credit score is the higher the likelihood that you will repay your outstanding debt obligations.
A credit score below 640 is typically considered subprime and can pose a higher risk for lenders. A credit score above of 700 or higher is considered good and can result in you receiving lower interest rates and better loan terms.
How to Manage Your Credit Score
Once you first apply for credit it’s also just as important to make sure you are tracking it to ensure it improves and stays at a healthy level. The best place to track your credit score is Credit Karma. They make it extremely easy to set up your account and start tracking your credit score for free.
Credit Karma is also a great resource to learn what factors impact your credit score and what you can do in order to improve it. Below are some tips to follow in order to help you manage your credit score effectively once you establish it.
- Always pay off your credit cards and loans on time. Your payment history has the heaviest impact on your credit score. It accounts for roughly 35% of your credit score and you should always make sure to make your payments on time. A great way to make sure you never miss a payment is to set your credit related bills to autopay.
- Keep an eye on your credit utilization. Your credit utilization is the ratio between your available credit limit and the portion you use each month. It’s important to keep this ratio low and avoid maxing out your credit cards.
- Make sure your credit report is correct. Once you enroll in credit monitoring through Credit Karma or another credit monitoring services, it’s important confirm that your credit report is correct. Sometimes there may be old items on your credit report which can impact your credit score in a negative way. As such, it’s important to periodically review your credit score (every 3 months) to everything is up to date and correct.
- Don’t make large purchases with credit cards. Making large purchases with your credit cards is not recommended. Most credit cards have an average interest rate of approximately 25%. If you have revolving credit that you have to pay down on every month, the interest can cost you a lot of money over the course of a year.
Building your credit is a long term process, but the earlier you start, the more time you have to establish a healthy credit history. It’s important to understand what credit score you start with in order for you to begin building your credit and improving it.