What Is A Starting Credit Score? [COMPLETE BEGINNER’S GUIDE]

Shawn Manaher
Shawn Manaher
Updated on November 16, 2022
starting credit score

Are you new to the world of credit and wondering what your starting credit score is? Read this guide to get all the information you need.

Credit scores are important for many different reasons. You have probably heard that higher credit scores get better loan rates and have an easier time securing mortgages and loans. If you are new to credit; you might be wondering what credit score you begin with.

There is no standard starting credit score. Everyone makes their own credit score when they open their first line of credit and begin using credit for the first time. You will build a credit score as you make payments and use your credit line.

This guide will discuss how to get your first line of credit and how to build your credit score. It will also explain why there is no starting credit score since everyone’s credit score is unique.

What Does A Credit Score Start At?

Many people wonder if their credit score starts at zero. The lowest possible FICO score is 300, so some people think you start there. However, there is no starting credit score. How high or low your credit score is depends on how you use your line of credit and how many lines of credit you have.

If you have never had a line of credit before, you won’t have a credit score. Once you have a credit card or a loan, you will begin to gain credit. Your lender will report your credit activity to the three major bureaus and it will determine your starting credit score.

Before you get a starting credit score, you will need to have one credit account opened for six months or more. You will also need at least one credit account reported to all three major credit bureaus within the last six months.

Once these requirements have been met, your credit score will show when someone like a landlord or lender enquiries. If you use your first line of credit responsibly, you will see that you can have a good credit score from the very beginning.

So, your starting credit score will depend on how well you build your credit. This means you need to make your monthly payments on time and make sure you don’t go over your credit limit. You also want to keep your debt-to-income ratio low.

Even though you might have been given a high credit limit, try not to max it out. You should also pay more than the minimum balance every month to avoid high interest.

How Can I Check My Credit Score?

It’s always a good idea to check your credit score before you begin applying for additional credit cards and loans. This will allow you to know your score and determine if you might be eligible for new lines of credit or not.

You should also only apply for loans and credit scores that are designed for people in your range whether it be average, good, or excellent. There are some cards aimed at people with no credit history so you can always apply for those as well if you are new to credit.

There are many banks and credit card issuers that give access to your credit scores for free. You can also make an account for a free credit monitoring service. This allows you to get a weekly credit score report as well as get alerts when there are threats of identity theft. Some finance apps also allow you to monitor your credit when you make paid accounts.

How Is A Credit Score Calculated?

Knowing how a credit score is calculated will ensure that you make your payments on time. It will also help you to maintain a good credit score since you know how things work a little better. Here are what makes up your credit score and some tips on how you can build credit easily and efficiently.

Payment History

Your payment history accounts for 35 percent of your credit score. This will show whether you have been able to pay the minimum amount on your credit cards or not. This accounts for the largest part of your history so it’s extremely important that you make each payment on the due date before each month.

New Credit

One of the other things that are considered when determining your credit score is how much new credit you have. This counts for 10 percent. You should try and wait three to six months between credit card applications. Too many credit card requests can lower your credit score. You should also try and only apply for credit cards and loans that you are pre-approved for so you have a larger chance of getting approved.

Accounts Owned 

The number of accounts open also determines your credit score. It accounts for 30 percent of your score. You also want to try and keep the amounts you owe under 30 percent of your available credit. If your balance starts to get too high, lenders might become suspicious that you are using your lines or credit for all purchases and you are not able to pay them back in full.

Length Of Credit History

The length of your credit history counts for 15 percent of your overall score. This shows how long you have been using credit. If you’re new, your credit history will be short. As time goes on though, it will continue and you will be able to build this section of your credit score.

Credit Mix

The different types of accounts you have also mattered. Most lenders want to see that you have different types of accounts rather than just the same type. You should have a good mix of revolving debt like credit cards and installment debt like loans. You can establish a good credit score just like credit cards though if you don’t have any loans. Credit mix is 10 percent of your credit score.

Can You Have A Credit Score Without A Credit Card?

You can build credit without a credit card, but you still need some line of credit. This means you can even use car loans and student loans. These credit accounts will show on your credit history and you can start to build a credit score with them.

If you don’t have any loans and you don’t want to take out a credit card, you can consider becoming an authorized user on a credit card that belongs to a relative. Some people do this to help their children begin to build credit.

This will still count towards your credit score because you have a line of credit that is in your name. Just like with any line of credit, you want to make sure to make all payments on time to make a positive credit history.

FICO Credit Score Ranges

You might be checking your credit score for the first time and not even know if the number you are seeing is good or bad. FICO scores range from 300 to 850.

Here are the ranges and what they mean:

  • Very poor: 300-579
  • Fair: 580-669
  • Good: 670-739
  • Very Good: 740-799
  • Exceptional: 800-850

Ideally, you want your FICO score to be 670 or higher. This allows you to get the best chances of getting approved for credit cards and loans. It will also make it much easier for you to get a mortgage or rent an apartment. You will also be able to get car loans easier.

The lower your credit score, the harder it will be for you to get approved for credit and it will make your life challenging. With a fair or very poor credit score, you will have a hard time getting things like car loans and mortgages.

When you are unable to secure these things on your own, you will need to get cosigners. This can prove difficult unless there are people in your life that you trust and that trust you. Being a cosigner means the person will have to pay any of your debt in the event that you do not pay for it yourself.

In Closing

Since there is no such thing as a starting credit score, you will need to open up a line of credit and then make sure you are building positive credit for yourself. This means you will need to make your minimum monthly payments on time every month. You also want to make sure you are keeping your credit usage below 30%.

Everyone makes their credit score for themselves. You will not start at 0 or the lowest FICO score of 300. Your credit score will build over time as you open more lines of credit and make monthly payments. Once your credit history is longer, you might also see your score increase since those with longer credit histories are usually considered less risky borrowers.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author.

He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.

He loves to share his personal finance tips and money management wisdom with others to help them find financial freedom.
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