I am a recent college graduate and I've just landed a full time, good paying consulting job. I am 18 years of age and I would like to purchase a duplex(or some type of rental property) property in which I will be able to rent one side and live on the other.

I would most definitely need some type of loan and my understanding of loans is that the interest rate that I will be charged is based relative to my credit score. Therefore I would like to work on my credit score before committing to the investment of a rental property.

The only way I currently know to build credit is to get a credit card. However where I live you must be 19 years of age to apply for a credit card. Is there any way for me to build credit in the meantime?

  • 4
    You might go into your bank and start talking to a loan officer. Explain what you want to do and ask what steps would help move this process forward. Building a personal relationship with a banker can help when you are trying to do something non-standard, but it makes economic sense.
    – zeta-band
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 17:07
  • Are you able to get someone to cosign a loan with you?
    – Nosrac
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 17:23
  • Unfortunately my mom would the the only person that I know who could cosign a loan and she's filled for bankruptcy in the past. Would that still be a good person to have cosign? @Nosrac
    – vax
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 17:26
  • @vax, sorry but probably not :(
    – Nosrac
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 17:56
  • 2
    Just a word of caution: don't assume that that well-paying consulting job is permanent.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 4:25

4 Answers 4


Ways to build credit without applying for credit cards:

  1. Get a secured credit card from your bank. This acts like a debit card and pays directly out of your account, but it will help you build credit.
  2. Get a retail card. Some retailers, like JCPenny, for example, have store cards that are a form of credit that works only in that store. These are not technically credit cards and are run in a very different way. They report to the bureaus as if they were credit cards, though.
  3. Utilize a retailer's credit. Lots of retailers will arrange a loan for you if you buy their product. Car companies certainly do this, but you can also get it with basic stuff like buying a computer or a mattress. Anyone (except most phone vendors) offering a one-time purchase as a monthly amount is advertising an opportunity to build credit. If you have any purchases like this coming up, see if you can buy using their credit mechanism.
  4. Open a line of credit with your bank account. This is generally very easy and free. Sometimes it's called "overdraft protection."
  5. Get added as an authorized user on someone's existing credit card. It doesn't matter whether that person has good or bad credit. The only thing that matters is what happens to that card while your are an authorized user. If the card is in good standing, this will benefit you.
  6. Take out a personal loan and make payments on it for a while before paying it back completely. This can be costly so it would not be my first choice. However, it is good because it is not considered "revolving" credit and FICO (or rather, Beacon) likes to see a mix of revolving (such as credit cards) and non-revolving credit.

It takes some time for these types of actions to positively affect you. I'd say at the very least 6 months. You won't get the full benefit for several years. However, the earlier you get started, the better.


Apply for a secured credit card (several financial institutions provide these, including most banks. WalletHub gives you a way to search/filter for these cards quite easily). You will need to deposit funds to cover your credit limit. Deposit as much as they allow, I believe it is 500.00. Pay for EVERYTHING with the card. Monitor your balance due and keep paying it off, to bring the balance due down so you can continue using your card.

I know you mentioned your area requires you to be 19, not sure if that still applies if you are applying online, in another state.

Also, there's no real reason to get a card with an annual fee in this case. The main reason for an annual fee would be a lower interest charge - simply don't get charged interest, and you'll be better off with not having to pay for a card annually.

Good luck.

  • 4
    I would recommend removing the reference to Capital One (or at least spell it correctly). More than one bank offers secure credit cards.
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 14:17

Keep in mind that credit takes time to build.

Your best short-term solution is to save enough cash to put enough of a down-payment that the lower loan-to-value ratio outweighs the lack of credit history. If there's enough equity to ensure that the bank will get their money back if they have to foreclose, you will have a better chance of securing financing.

In addition, the stability and consistency of your employment may also be a factor that makes it difficult for you to get a loan without a substantial down-payment.

Finally, don't ignore the risk present in resting a property that you have a loan on. Make sure you have a plan in place to pay your payments if the other half goes unrented for several months, or you risk losing the entire property.

My advice is to rent somewhere else for enough time that you can save up a lot of cash to purchase a duplex rather than getting in a rush and doing something unwise (like apply for a bunch of credit cards you don't need).


One possible route is to try to have no credit. This is different than bad credit. If you build up a good downpayment (20%), a number of banks would do manual underwriting for you.

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