Can I Be Denied Because of a Lack of Credit History?

Pensive man at laptop in home office
Dear Experian,

I moved to the U.S. two years ago and have since applied three times for a department store card. Requests got denied because I apparently didn't have a credit score. I also applied for a secured credit card which got approved, and I am slowly starting to build my credit score. Unfortunately, I already have four hard requests. How can I remove older requests that were denied due to the missing credit score?


Dear MPC,

Credit scores are calculated using the information from your credit report. "You don't have a credit score" is a common misperception. In fact, having just moved to the U.S., the issue was that you didn't have a credit report, so a score could not be calculated.

You don't have a credit report until at least one credit account in your name is reported to a credit reporting agency.

Opening a Secured Credit Card Account Can Help Build Credit

A secured credit card account is a good way to begin establishing a credit history, especially if the lender reports their secured accounts to the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). In some instances, the lender may not initially report the secured account. However, they may convert it to a traditional unsecured credit card account after you demonstrate that you can use it responsibly.

When the account is reported to Experian, a credit report will be established for you and you will begin building a credit history that can then be used to calculate credit scores. Many credit scoring models require six months of payment history in order to generate a score, although some may be able to calculate a score in less than three months. VantageScore® can generate a score in as little as one month. Don't expect it to be very high immediately, though.

What Are Some Other Ways to Begin Establishing Credit?

Aside from opening a secured account, there are a few other options for someone who is just beginning to establish credit:

  • Become an authorized user. If you have a family member or close friend with a credit card account in good standing, asking them to add you to their account as an authorized user can help you build your credit history. Not all lenders report their authorized user accounts to Experian, however, so be sure to check with the lender before applying.
  • Ask someone to cosign. If you have a family member with good credit who is willing and able, having a cosigner can help you qualify for a credit card or even a small personal loan.

Sign up for Experian Boost®ø. With Experian Boost, you can add your positive payment history from your utility, cellphone and certain streaming service accounts, going back up to 24 months. This can be especially helpful for consumers who have a thin file or those with credit scores below 680. Experian Boost users see an average credit score increase of 13 points.

Impact of Inquiries on Your Credit Scores

Inquiries are simply a record that you have applied for credit in the past. Inquiries only have a small impact on credit scores, and that impact decreases over time. Usually, any significant effect on credit scores diminishes within just a few weeks or months. They remain on your credit report for two years, but some credit score calculations don't include them in the calculation at all after a year.

Because inquiries provide a record of who has accessed your credit report, they cannot be removed sooner unless they were the result of fraud or identity theft. Based on your question, it sounds as if the inquiries may be deleted soon, if they haven't been already.

If not, don't worry too much. The positive credit history you are now building will soon outweigh any negative impact of the inquiries, if it doesn't already.

Thanks for asking.
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist