What Credit Score Do You Start With and How to Improve It?

Updated · Apr 09, 2022

Having a good credit score is essential, whether you're buying a house, a car, or even just renting an apartment.

Paradoxically, you need to have credit to build up your credit score.

But what credit score do you start with?

And how can you improve it?

Keep reading to find out.

What Is a Credit Score and Why Do You Need One?

A credit score is a number that reflects the information in your credit report. Lenders use it to determine whether you’re a good candidate for a loan.

The higher your credit score is, the more likely you are to get credit with good terms. But a low score can make it hard to get a loan in the first place.

So, it’s key to understand how credit works and how to improve it.

But first, what number does your credit score start at?

What Is Your Score if You Have No Credit History?

Contrary to what you might expect, your credit score doesn’t start at 0.

If you don't have a credit history, you won't have one at all.

This is because you don't automatically get assigned a score when you turn 18. You have to cover some basic criteria to get one.

To qualify for a FICO score, you need at least one credit account for six or more months.

Once you cover the criteria, what number does your credit score start at?

The lowest credit score is 300, so your score won't be 0 even if you have no credit history. It'll be a number close to 300.

If you don’t have a credit history, the lender will consider factors like your employment details and payment history (utility bills count too).

Still, it’ll be more difficult to get approved for credit that way.

You need to increase your starting credit score before you apply for a lump-sum credit.

What Is a Good Credit Score?

The two most popular credit scoring models are FICO and VantageScore.

The FICO score starts at 300 and goes up to 850. Anything between 670 and 739 is a good score.

The VantageScore also ranges from 300 to 850, and 661 to 780 is a good score.

You can still get certain types of credit if your score isn’t perfect. But the higher it is, the better the terms of the credit will be.

So, here’s our guide to starting your credit score improvement journey.

What Are the Different Types of Credit Scores?

There are two main types of credit scores: FICO scores and VantageScores.

FICO scores are more commonly used than VantageScores. That said, it’s easier to qualify for the latter.

Both models use the same factors to calculate it, but give them different weights.

Generally, your credit score is based on your payment history, amount you owe, length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit.

Payment history has the biggest impact on your score. So it’s key to always pay on time.

Ultimately, both credit scores are designed to give lenders a sense of your creditworthiness.

How To Start Building Up Your Credit Score?

What credit score do you start with?

That’s of little importance. We all start without a score, but we can build it.

The easiest and fastest way to do that is with a secured credit card. Use it regularly and always pay the full balance on time.

Other ways to increase your score include:

  • Pay all your bills and debt on time. This includes both big loans, like mortgages, and small debts, like credit card balances or utility bills.

  • Keep your credit utilization rate low. This means using less than 30% of your available credit.

  • Don't open too many new accounts simultaneously. Although your new credit activity has little weight on your score, it still affects it.

Wrap Up

What credit score do you start with?

None.

It’s a catch 22 situation. You need credit to get a credit score and a good credit score to get decent credit terms.

But there are ways to fix that. Your credit score depends on various factors, including your payment history and employment details.

And while you’ll start with a lower score, you can quickly build it up.

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Aleksandra Yosifova
Aleksandra Yosifova

With an eye for research, Aleksandra is determined to always get to the bottom of things. If there’s a glitch in the system, she’ll find it and make sure you know about it.