Credit scores are calculated at the moment your credit report is requested by a lender using the scoring model selected by that lender. In your case, there may be several reasons a score can’t be calculated. Read on to find out which explanation may fit your situation.
Your Credit File Is Frozen
People sometimes place a credit freeze on their file to protect themselves from credit fraud and then forget to lift it before applying for credit. That’s especially true if it has been a long time since the freeze was added and the person hasn’t checked their report or applied for new credit. If you’ve placed a freeze on your credit file, the lender will not be able to access your report and so a score cannot be calculated. To lift a freeze, visit the credit monitoring service or credit bureau that it’s froze with.
You Don’t Have a Credit Report
A credit score can’t be calculated until you have a credit report, and you won’t have a credit report until you have an account reported in your name. To find out if you have a credit history, you can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies—Experian, TransUnion and Equifax—at AnnualCreditReport.com. You are also entitled to a free copy of your credit report from the credit reporting agency that your lender used because adverse action has been taken. “Adverse action” is the term used to describe having your application denied or not receiving the best terms available. Your lender is required by federal law to provide an adverse action notice, which will provide instructions to request your report.
Length of Credit History Is Too Short
Many scoring models require that an open and active account be reported for at least three months, and often as long as six months before a credit score can be calculated. If a VantageScore model is used to calculate your score, it may be able to do so with less history. If you’ve only recently begun establishing credit in your name, it may just be a matter of time before a score can be calculated. Once you have ordered a copy of your credit report directly from Experian and you see that there is credit history being reported, you can attempt to order a free credit score yourself. If a score cannot be calculated for you, a reason will be provided.
How Do I Start Establishing Credit?
If you do not yet have any credit accounts and want to begin building your credit history, here are some ways to get started:
- Get a credit card. Without a credit score, you may not qualify for a traditional unsecured credit card right away, so consider opening a secured credit card. These can be easier to qualify for because you give the lender a deposit to secure any charges you make on the account. If you manage the account responsibly and make all your payments on time, the lender may eventually convert the card to an unsecured credit card and return your deposit.
- Ask a family member to cosign for you. You may be able to qualify for the loan you apply with a cosigner. Be sure that your cosigner understands that the account will appear on both your credit history and theirs, and you both will be legally responsible for managing the account. Any missed payments will damage their credit rating as well as yours.
- Ask someone close to you to add you as an authorized user. As an authorized user on a loved one’s credit card account, you will get your own card and can make charges on the account, but you are not legally responsible for payments. The account will then likely be added to your credit report, helping you build a credit history. Keep in mind that not all lenders report authorized user accounts to the credit reporting companies, so you’ll want to ask the lender before being added to the account.
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