Hi. I’m Christine and I’ve never had a credit card. <Hi, Christine.> I’ve also never had a loan in my name or done anything else that would give me “credit history.”
How in the name if 2013 did this happen?
I know. Everyone has had a credit card or a loan. But, since I was fortunate enough not to need student loans to pay for college and in my early twenties I avoided credit cards like they were the plague I made it to my mid-twenties with zero credit history. I was raised in a “don’t buy it if you don’t have money for it” kind of family. (With the exception of houses and sometimes cars.) I bought my first car cash from my dad for $1200 (my life’s savings at the time). I thought I was being smart. I was sure that avoiding credit cards and debt altogether was the best route to financial happiness.
But then I learned that you need credit history for more than buying things you don’t have money for.
Several years later I headed off to graduate school and insisted on living in this little crap hole of an apartment so I could pay all my own bills. It was great until I tried to have the utilities turned on and they ran a credit check. They said they could not turn on my gas because I had no credit history. I had to have my parents put the gas in their name. I was mortified. Fast forward another year or so to when I was living with my then boyfriend (now husband) and I needed to put the utilities in my name before he deployed (otherwise I would have had zero authority on the accounts while he was gone). They were happy to put them in my name…for a deposit of several hundred dollars. I couldn’t even be on the loan for our house because it would have sent our interest rate through the roof. So now here I am, in my mid-twenties, and still have NO credit history.
So what am I going to do about it? As I understand it, I have a few options.
1. Open a credit card with a co-signer.
This is an easy option since my husband has a good credit history. But I don’t like the idea of having to rely on someone else to build my credit history, even if it is my husband.
2. Take out a small loan with a co-signer.
Same benefits and drawbacks as above.
3. Get a “secured” credit card from a bank.
This is when you give the bank cash as “collateral” and the card’s limit generally equals the amount of cash you have given them to open the card. The best thing is that these cards exist for the purpose of building or improving credit so every payment is reported to the credit bureaus. The only catch is that even one missed/late payment could really hurt you.
So what am I going to do?
My plan is to go the secured credit card route. I’m very good about paying my bills on time and am very careful with my money. I plan on using it pay for gas, an expense I budget for anyway. That way I know I’ll use it regularly and have to make payments on it regularly.
Has anyone else experienced this problem? What did you do?