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Is It Possible Not to Have a Credit Report?

Dear Experian,

Is it possible not to have a report? I have been a resident since 2003!

- NIC

Dear NIC,

It's possible to not have an Experian credit report if you have not opened a credit account or if none of your accounts are reported to Experian. Because credit reports record your history managing credit, you won't have one if you've never had a credit account.

It's a common misconception that a credit report is created when you're born, or when you receive a Social Security number. In fact, a credit report is not created until you open a credit account for the first time and that account is reported to one or more of the credit reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion or Equifax) by your lender.

Why Don't You Have a Credit Report?

If you have no credit accounts or have opened an account or accounts with lenders that do not report the payment status to a credit reporting company, you will not have a credit report.

Because information is deleted over time, it is also possible to have an existing credit report removed from Experian's credit reporting system. This most commonly happens when a person moves out of the country.

Credits accounts that have been closed or inactive for a number of years are eventually deleted from a person's credit file. When there are no longer any accounts associated with someone, there is no longer a credit report.

What Does It Mean if You Don't Have a Credit Score?

Credit scores are based on the information in your credit history at the moment the score is calculated. If you don't have a credit report, you won't have a credit score. Most credit scoring models need at least one or two active credit accounts to generate a credit score. They also typically require activity for the last three to six months.

Having a strong credit score is key to being able to access low-cost credit when you need it. Whether you're applying for a credit card or buying a house, a better credit score means you'll be more likely to qualify for the best rates and most favorable terms a lender has to offer.

There are many different credit scoring models a lender may use to assess your creditworthiness, and score ranges can differ, so the number you receive may vary from one source to another. Your score may even vary with the same lender if you're applying for different types of credit. VantageScore® and the Experian FICO® Score 8 both range from 300 to 850, but other score models (specialized models for auto loans, for instance) may have scales that reach 900 or higher.

Lenders decide which credit scoring models they'll use based on their individual criteria, but if your credit history is strong, all your credit scores will be good.

How to Establish Credit

To establish a credit report, you need to apply for credit. Because you have no credit to base a lending decision on, you may not be able to qualify for traditional credit on your own at first. Some options for building your credit history include:

  • Ask someone to cosign. If you have a family member with strong credit who is willing, asking them to cosign for an account can help you get approved. Keep in mind when someone cosigns for you, they are equally responsible for the debt. Any late payments or high balances will appear on their report as well as yours.
  • Become an authorized user. Ask a friend or family member if they are willing to add you as an authorized user on one of their accounts that has a long history of on-time payments. An authorized-user account on your credit report can help you begin to establish a credit history in your name. Not all lenders report authorized user accounts, however, so check with the company before being added.
  • Open a secured credit card account. With a secured credit card, you deposit a certain amount of money into an account in exchange for a card with a credit limit equal to your deposit (in most cases). A secured account is easier to qualify for because it is less risky to the lender. If you fail to make payments, they can use the money you deposited to cover any outstanding debt.
  • Sign up for Experian Boost . With Experian Boost, you can add your on-time utility, cellphone and streaming service payments to your Experian credit history. This can help those with a thin file become scoreable for the first time.

You can check to see if you have an Experian credit report by requesting it online for free at any time.

Thanks for asking.
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist

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