I helped a 78 year old neighbor apply for a secured credit card but he was turned down for having "no credit history".

He has had no credit cards for 30-40 years, no credit accounts, nothing. On NerdWallet he shows up essentially blank. On https://www.annualcreditreport.com/ it shows some bank accounts but no credit accounts.

He NEEDS a credit history because it's a requirement to apply for Senior housing. He has a fixed, though low, income stream from Social Security until he dies. He has a checking account and has never had any bad credit events.

Where can he go to build a credit history?

OP here. These things failed:

  1. A "starter" or "bad credit" card application.
  2. A "secured" card application with a big bank.
  3. A "secured" card with a Credit Union. The Credit Union was reasonable, but rejected based on over 50% of income going to rent.

What worked so far:

  1. Adding the senior as an "authorized user" on one of my cards. This requires no credit check, but should result in reporting to the credit agencies. With Capital One I was able to get a separate credit card number, separate spend limit, and separate accounting on the statements.

The site "NerdWallet" was the most useful in terms of forum advice and data.

  • 7
    Is this "senior housing" a government facility? Have you spoken to someone at the center to see what they recommend? Credit takes time to build up and I'd be surprised if they've never had this come up before.
    – D Stanley
    Oct 22, 2018 at 18:30
  • 1
    These are all private non-profits using facility based Section 8. The there are lotteries for wait lists that are themselves 1-10 years long. They have their pick and chose of residents, and are not interested in making exceptions.
    – Bryce
    Nov 5, 2018 at 23:48

2 Answers 2


Try a rental reporting service. These are services that act as an intermediary between the tenant and landlord, and then report payments to credit bureaus.

Note that these are reported specifically as rental entries, and the standard FICO score doesn't utilize this. However, alternate scoring systems do.


I would expect he has utility bills, cable, phone, or some other kind of payments he has made.

Perhaps copies of those bills could be used. Bank statement maybe?

See if he qualifies for membership in a local credit union, they probably have some ideas.

New info: Over 50% of his income going to rent.

I'm not sure how to overcome this unless getting (or becoming) a roommate is an option - which would maybe take the ration below 50%. I thought that they'd give a secured credit card to anyone and I'm not sure why they wouldn't. I expect there's a reason and will ask around.

  • +1 for the local credit union suggestion. That’d be my first port of call.
    – Peter K.
    Oct 23, 2018 at 12:20
  • This does not seem the right place to post a negative review of a particular bank, particular to your circumstances. Would you consider editing that out?
    – Bryce
    Nov 2, 2018 at 15:48
  • @Bryce I will edit if it violates the terms of service. I would prefer to leave it, because I have heard it from several news sources over multiple years - the fact that it happened to me is presented as evidence that those stories are true. It is relevant because it is specific advice about a bank mentioned in the original post - the advice being if you don't have a lot of other credit then this could stand out as a negative - preventing, not helping, a good credit score. If he had a bunch of other credit (as I did when this happened to me) it would not matter. Nov 2, 2018 at 19:40
  • If someone can provide evidence that Capital One does not do this with their secured cards or that they have been court ordered to stop it (or even an admission from Capital One that they used to do this but don't anymore) I will edit them out and remove my comments. Nov 2, 2018 at 19:43
  • On my credit report, the Capital One limit appears correctly, not as you describe.
    – Bryce
    Nov 5, 2018 at 23:50

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