Turning 18 is a huge milestone because you become a legal adult.
You can vote, get married, and apply for credit. You may want to practice your newfound freedom and perhaps finance your first car, start a business, or fund your education.
However, if you have no prior debts, loans, or credit cards, you may be wondering what your credit score is like, and what it is when you turn 18?
Let’s discuss your credit score when you turn 18, when does it start, how you can build it, and more, to help you better understand your credit scores at 18.
Does credit score start when you turn 18?
No. Your credit score does not start when you turn 18, and you can spend your entire life without having a credit score; however, this is not a good idea. A credit score requires a credit report, which is only created once you take a loan, open a credit card, and start making payments.
If you do not start at 18, or ever, you will never have a credit report or score. Credit scores tell lenders how well you manage your debt and how responsible you are with credit. If you have no credit history and never managed debt, there is nothing they can base your credit score on.
Turning 18 does not automatically start your credit score, it only allows you to open credit cards and start taking loans to build credit and earn your credit score.
When you turn 18 what is your credit score?
Most people think that their credit score is 0 or 300 when they turn 18; however, this is not true. In reality, 18-year olds do not have a credit score at all because there are no details on their credit report to derive a credit score.
However, once you take out a loan or open a credit card and start making payments, your bank starts reporting your account status to credit reporting bureaus. This information allows these bureaus to evaluate and give you a credit score between 300 and 850.
Contrary to popular belief, your credit score does not start at 300, even if your credit report has excessively bad details. If you make regular payments on your loan or credit card, you will rack up a respectable score of around 700 easily in just a few months.
At 18, you have what is known as a “clean” credit file, and your best interests lie in keeping this file clean by maintaining a good credit report from the start. You can do this by only taking on debt or loans that you can afford to pay off each month timely.
It will help build your credit and qualify you for optimal terms when you take out a big loan in the future. Hence, you need to be responsible for your credit when you start at 18.
Building credit at 18
Start doing a few key things early to build a good credit score for yourself.
Build payment history
Experts agree that the best way to build credit as a beginner at 18 is to open a credit card without any annual fee. Use this card as frequently as possible but only spend what you can afford to pay off monthly.
Doing this will set up a healthy payment history, which is important because it makes up the largest chunk of your credit score – a full 35 percent.
Keep older accounts open
You need to remember your initial accounts should remain open for as long as possible, even if you do not use them later. 10 percent of your credit score depends on the average age of all your open accounts.
If the account you opened at 18 is still open 10 or 20 years later, it can have a positive effect on your credit score.
Stay under 30 percent
As mentioned, you need to use your credit card and pay it off on time to build a decent payment history and advance your credit score. However, you must be careful not to utilize 30 percent or more of your available credit.
Available credit is the credit limit on your card. For example, if your credit card has a credit limit of 1,000 dollars, you should never exceed your credit card spending over 299 dollars; this is because utilizing 30 percent or more of your available credit harms your credit score.
Minimize hard inquiries
Another key thing is to avoid applying for too many loans or credit cards at 18. Every time you do so, your lender or creditor applies for a hard inquiry on your credit that can appear on your report for up to two years.
Each hard inquiry drops your credit score slightly, and you need to minimize hard inquiries as much as you can. Only apply for cards you are likely to get approval for and opt for secured credit cards. Secured cards limit credit depending on your deposit, which is why they are approved easily.
If you play by the rules, most creditors will return your deposit after a pre-set period (typically around 12 months) and turn your secured card into an unsecured card.
The importance of building credit at 18
When it comes to building credit, starting early is better; this is because having a healthy credit score is very important for citizens in the US. It saves you a lot of money on interest rates and opens doors for bigger loans and opportunities.
It will qualify you for the lowest possible interest rates on anything from credit cards to home loans, personal loans, and car financing. A good credit score is also a positive indicator to future employers and landlords who often conduct background checks, including your credit score, before taking you on.
Building a good credit score secures a better, more flexible financial future for you simply. Since building a healthy credit report and credit score often takes a lot of time, it is always better to start as early as possible, which is when you turn 18.
Remember that you must open credit cards and/or take out loans and make timely payments at 18 because you cannot have a credit score until you start.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what your credit score is when you turn 18 and why you should start building credit early. Your credit score does not automatically start at 0 or 300 when you turn 18, and it will not start till you take action and build credit.
As an 18-year-old, you can build credit easily by opening a credit card, using it responsibly, and paying off your debt on time to build a healthy payment history. Remember to start with a no-annual-fee card, keep your accounts open, minimize hard inquiries, and stay under 30 percent of your available credit.
You should be able to build a very good credit score over time and secure yourself a better financial future.