Q&A: What does your credit score start at when you turn 18?

Updated on October 27, 2023

Question: What does your credit score start at when you turn 18?

Answer: When you turn 18 and are just stepping into the world of credit, you don’t magically start off with a pre-set credit score. Instead, you’re rocking a “thin” or “blank” credit file. In simpler terms, there’s not enough credit history or data for the credit bureaus to whip up a score for you.

Credit scores are all about the info in your credit report. This includes stuff like how good you are at paying bills on time, how much you owe, how long you’ve had credit, the types of credit you have, and how often you’re applying for new credit. To kick off your credit score journey, you need at least one credit account that’s been open and reporting to the credit bureaus for a minimum of six months. Once you hit that six-month mark with an account, a credit score can be generated based on all the activity linked to that account.

For those just starting out, it’s pretty common to begin with a score on the lower end of the scale. But where you start can vary based on your initial credit moves. For instance, if you dive in with a big loan and miss a few payments, your starting score might be on the lower side. On the flip side, if you ease in with a secured credit card, keep your spending in check, and pay off the full balance every month, you might kick things off with a more favorable score.

Remember, building a solid credit score is more of a marathon than a sprint. It’s all about playing the long game with consistent, smart credit moves. And while aiming for a high score is awesome, it’s also key to focus on your overall financial health. Your credit score is just one piece of the bigger financial puzzle.

Related questions

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  • If you wanted to know what factors contributed to your credit score, how could you find out?
  • Stilt, Inc. and its affiliates do not provide financial, tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own financial, tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

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    Frank Gogol

    I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.