You can have a credit score without a credit card if you’ve taken out a loan, had rent payments reported to the major credit bureaus, or fallen behind on other bills. A credit score is just a way of summarizing the contents of your credit reports. And in addition to information about any credit card accounts you’ve had in the past 7 years, credit reports contain info about other loans and lines of credit you’ve used as well whether you’ve been sent to collections or sued for amounts owed. Unpaid alimony and child support also are noted on credit reports, as are tax liens. So even without ever using a credit card, you still could have a credit score if you’ve otherwise borrowed money or failed to pay some key bills.
You can see if you have a credit score for free on WalletHub, the only site with free daily updates. The fact that it’s possible to have a credit score without a credit card might mean you already have a rating. But if you don’t have a score, or just want yours to be higher, you really should get a credit card. Having an open credit card account is the most efficient, inexpensive credit-building option available. Just consider the alternatives.
Here are the best ways to get a credit score without a credit card:
Make rent payments: Ask if your landlord reports your monthly rent payments to the credit bureaus. If they don’t, you can sign up for a service like PayYourRent.com that will ensure you get credit for paying on time.
Pay your student loans: If you took out loans to pay for college or vocational training, consistently paying them on time will build up your credit.
Get an auto loan: You can get an auto loan with limited or bad credit history, but your interest rate and car insurance premiums will be fairly high.
Get a credit-builder loan: Some banks and credit unions offer small loans specifically designed to help people with no credit build their history. You may have to offer collateral in order to get one.
You can have a credit score without a credit card if you’ve otherwise borrowed money, had a landlord report your payments to the credit bureaus, or failed to pay bills. But applying for the right credit card, like an easy-to-get secured card, is one of the cheapest ways to start building your credit history. And if you’re not able to get a credit card in your own name, you may be able to find someone who will add you as an authorized user. This will also help you build credit.