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Today I tried to access my credit report for the first time from the three major agencies using annualcreditreport.com.

When accessed through Experian, it gave me a generic error that my report wasn't available online and told me to request it via paper mail.

On Transunion, it seemed to have the correct information about me and said it had records of my existence since 2011 (a year after I graduated high school). However the report that Transunion showed me had no actual score on it, just my name and address. On the "Score" tab of the page, it was completely blank, not a single word. There was no activity on the report either.

Finally Equifax gave me a similar error as Experian telling me to mail a request in by paper mail with their application and proofs of ID.

All three agencies received the same name, SSN and address.

So the question is, do I have a credit score at all? I have never made any large purchase (house, car, etc.), have never taken out a loan for school, and have never owned a credit card (I do everything through cash, check or debit). Should I be worried?

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    It would be wise to apply for a credit card and use it sparingly. I never had loans or a credit card all the way through college (until I was 27-28 years old). I found that people were throwing credit card offers at me while I was in college, but after I had graduated I was "an unknown credit risk" and was unable to get a card on my own until I joined my wife's accounts and built a little bit of credit history. The alternative would have been a secured card, which I didn't want to do. – David May 30 '17 at 18:37
  • You're doing fine without credit now, don't open any accounts! If you ever get to the point that you want a mortgage you can have manual underwriting and they may well be impressed that you're not a debt crazy. – AbraCadaver May 30 '17 at 19:14
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Generally, if you have a loan, you have a credit score. But since you have never had a loan before, then it is likely that you do not have a credit score. You should not be worried if you aren't planning on applying for credit and/or loans. If you are wanting to purchase a house, car, or even just having a credit card, you should work on obtaining a secure loan so then you can establish history.

Most of the time you have to pay to view your credit score. By law, you can obtain a free copy of your credit report, which it sounds like you have at annualcreditreport.com, which only shows your payment history, but in order to view your credit score, you generally have to pay for it.

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    It should also be noted that while your credit report should show the same general information about you (your debts) from all three reporting agencies, your credit score can be calculated using any one of a number of different algorithms from FICO or other financial organizations. There are multiple "scores" available that take various credit factors as inputs and weigh them all differently depending on what type of debt the score is designed to predict creditworthiness for. – CactusCake May 30 '17 at 15:15
  • To be clear: a loan is any form of credit, regardless of whether that's a "car loan" or "student loan" or just a credit card. – David May 30 '17 at 18:33
  • Also note that you won't have a FICO score until you've had at least one account showing six months of credit history. – Mooseman Sep 10 '17 at 11:14
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I'm the contrarian in the crowd. I think credit scores and debt are the closest thing to evil incarnate.

You're in good company. The absence of a credit score simply means the agencies have insufficient data in their behavioral model to determine how profitable your business would be to the bank. The higher your score, the more likely the bank is to make a profit from your loan.

IMHO, you're better off building up cash and investment reserves than a credit history. With sufficient reserves, you will be able to shop around for a bank that will give you a good rate, if you ever do need a loan. You'll be surprised at how quickly you get in a position where you don't need a loan if you save and invest wisely.

I used to have a (high) credit score, and I was miserable about it because there were always bills due. I gave up debt 14 years ago, paid the last debt 7 years ago, and have never. been happier. Raising kids without debt (or credit score) is much more fun than with debt.

Update: "Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban is famously blunt. So, when Inc. asked him in a 2017 interview to share his best money advice, the star of ABC's "Shark Tank" and the owner of the Dallas Mavericks didn't mince words. "From my dad," he said. "Don't use credit cards.""

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/26/mark-cuban-dont-use-credit-cards.html

  • No debt doesn't have to mean no credit score. You can use a credit card as a charge card, paying it off each month within the grace period (or even earlier). That won't maximize your score (because it doesn't maximize lender profit) but it will establish a credit report showing a history of financial responsibility. – Ben Voigt Apr 8 '18 at 20:09
  • Every time you use the credit card, you establish debt. It may be short term, but it is disingenious to say paying it (the debt) off each month is the same as having no debt. – pojo-guy Apr 8 '18 at 20:14
  • It's a liability which balances an asset, but it's not debt unless net of (assets - liabilities) which are linked together becomes negative. Several forms of linking exist, a secured card has the asset directly in the same account (still not the same as a debit card), but generally having credit card and deposit account in the same accountholder name at the same institution will form such a link (via auto-pay and "setoff" agreements). – Ben Voigt Apr 8 '18 at 20:18
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    I haven't had any issues travelling, staying in hotels, and renting cars in the past 14 years without having a credit card, even internationally. The protections available for credit cards are also applied to debit cards. The "cash back" rewards are in the range of a rounding error on the bank's part. You can often get a better deal by simply waving a wad of cash under the sales person's nose and walking away if they won't reach the deal you want. – pojo-guy Apr 9 '18 at 0:19
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    I also see debt as a moral failure; I simply do not see accessing my funds with a credit card to be building debt. – Ben Voigt Apr 9 '18 at 1:13
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You can't get your credit score for free, just the report with the information the score is based on.

If you got credit reports through annualcreditreport.com, the Score tab would typically contain an advertisement for purchasing your score. If you have an ad-blocker enabled, that might be blocked, explaining the blank page. Try turning off any browser extensions that alter how pages are shown.

The accounts page/tab/section should show something like "0 open accounts" or similar, to indicate that it is loading data.

Your lack of credit history probably does mean you don't have a credit score, so it's probably not worth paying anything to find that out. The focus should be on the accuracy of the underlying report, since you can do something about that.

Should I be worried?

I'd say no on that.

You'll have an easier time getting credit (and better terms) in the future if you start now with some account, even if it's a secured credit card you don't use much, because the age of the oldest and average accounts are factors in credit scoring models.

  • You CAN get your credit score for free, but the sources are somewhat different from free credit reports. Experian will give both your report and your FICO based on their data; sign up at freecreditscore.com (and decline all the upsell attempts). Banks (at least Bank of America, Chase, Discover, and USAA FSB) each give the FICO score based on the bureau each uses for credit qualification. Advertising-supported creditkarma.com and creditsesame.com both give free "FAKO" scores, one also give access to a non-official but complete report. – Ben Voigt Apr 8 '18 at 20:05

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