Probably a fairly generic question, but here it is. First, a very small background:
I recently graduated in Europe and found a job in the US. I got the visa and everything, so now I finally moved here to start. I am in the process of renting an apartment and apparently the lack of a credit score is creating all sorts of issues (like my SSN not being recognized when applying for services such as PG&E).
For my entire adult life (granted, not very long, I moved out from my parent's place and have being fully independent economically for only 4 years) I never used credit. That is, I always used a debit card and never spent more than I had, never borrowed money for anything.
Here in the US, I have a bank account and a debit card associated with it, no credit card.
So, to my question: I have been reading about credit score and I think I have a general understanding of the concept (a number that tells people how punctual you are in paying off your debts), but I don't exactly understand a few things.
- I tried to check my credit score online and I don't have one associated with my SSN, which is not a surprise. To start one, do I really need to get a credit card and start using it? Or is it possible to register somewhere and say "Hey I never used credit, dear PG&E this is my checking account feel free to bill me"?
- To get a credit score and rise it (since if I understand correctly you need to cultivate it, like reddit karma wasn't enough to keep you busy :) ), do I need to be actually using credit (e.g. credit card? If so, why would I want to use credit (on which I would be paying interests, right?) when I have a debit card and can use that? Or are there "bonus points" for having the possibility of using credit but not doing so?
Right now I' quite confused about this matter (as you most certainly figure out from my post), so any input will be greatly appreciated!