Credit? What Credit?!?

Updated on August 01, 2011
L.L. asks from Austin, MN
24 answers

I was going to ask this anyhow, but someone else inspired me to do it now. :)

I'm 30. I've never had a credit card...not my life. I've paid off one 10,000 car loan (years ahead of time), but that was about 10 years ago. I didn't pay a book club bill of about 50 dollars for over a year, and had creditors calling about it, but that's been taken care of for at least 5 years. The phone/internet bill is in my name, and has been paid on time consistently for 6 years.'s the question. Over the last two years or so, I've tried applying for a few different credit cards (Firestone, Amazon, maybe one other) and I get turned down. I think the reason given is that I don't have established credit. HOW IN THE WORLD does one "establish" credit without a credit card? I mean, what ELSE do I have to do? I would really like to have one, just one, in case the car breaks down...and that's pretty much all I want it for.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

***Thanks for all the advice! :)

And as for how we've lived without them... :) ....well, we don't travel out of state, we don't stay in hotels, we don't rent cars, and our only bills are rent, utilities, phone/internet (one bill, land line only), car insurance, and Netflix. :) I shop with cash... :) And if the car breaks down tomorrow, we are SCREWED!!! :)

Featured Answers


answers from Nashville on

You have no credit cards?

Hold on, wait!

Listen to me.

Don't ever get one.

Stay as far away as you can from them.

Good luck.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Read a Dave Ramsay book.
It's possible to live life withOUT what society calls *credit*!
Why do you even want a credit card at this point?

More important is an emergency fund for the unexpected emergencies.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

Instead of having a credit card for emergencies, save $$ each month until you have a nice cushion sitting in the bank that you NEVER touch except for things like car repairs or unexpected medical bills or a job loss.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Los Angeles on

I disagree with the person who said not to get one. It is important to have a credit card because it establishes your credit rating. Do you ever want to buy a house? You need to have a credit score....
The most important thing to know about credit cards, though , is to never owe more than 50% of your limit. Owing less than 50% and always paying on time is how you get good credit. When you owe more, your credit points start going down.
And never, EVER, spend more on your credit card than you have in your bank. Always use a credit card as a way to build credit (thus paying it off every month) and as a way to earn points for plane tickets (etc), but never to purchase something that you don't have the money for in the bank. That is how people get into credit card debt.
My father signed me up for a credit card when I was 18. He told me if I ever owed more than I had, to cut it up. This has kept me out of debt and in excellent credit.
A good way to start getting credit cards is to go to a store like Macy's. Apply for a card there first... eventually you will be receiving credit card offers in the mail if you always pay on time.
Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Hi, I started with a credit card from a bank where I have bank account with a max credit line of about $500. I think it's easier to get that kind of a card from a bank you're affiliated with. One you start using it and consistently pay the balance off, probably you'll start to get offers or be accepted by other cards. Try asking your bank if you haven't already. I'm not sure if that $50 dollars that got creditors calling is hurting your credit record badly or not, but if it's not, I think you'll have a good chance.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Have you pulled your credit report? It's likely that there is NOTHING on it except that book club bill. Utilities don't typically report to credit bureaus (they CHECK your credit before you open an account, but they aren't, themselves creditors).

Have you tried applying for a regular credit card through your bank? The bank where you actually hold accounts is probably more likely to extend credit than a store/company is to give you a consumer card. Be prepared for a lowish limit at first, while you establish credit. Use the card for a few purchases a month and pay it off when the bill comes. Once you establish this pattern with them, you can ask for a credit line increase.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I say, you've lived this long without it, why bother now? We have lived without credit cards for several years now & we've been fine. Credit cards are not necessary to live. I think you've done good so far by not feeding into the typical American mentality of "more, more, more, now, now, now, even if I don't have the money for it".

I think it's unfortunate that some people can't comprehend how this poster could live without credit that long. It's easy - you save your money for what you want, live within your means, and tell yourself no. It's not as hard as everyone thinks it is.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

If you are a member of a credit union, you can probably get a card through them. Credit unions are great anyway so if you don't bank at one, you might want to consider switching over. I have found that they have all of the amenities of a big bank (on-line banking and bill pay, etc.) without the fees and impersonal service.

If that doesn't work, start with a secured credit card and that should get you up and running.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

I totally agree with the person encouraging you to read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. Reading his books and following his steps of debt repayment has changed my family's life! Definitely have an emergency savings (Dave's first step) and a debit/check card--which you get through your bank/credit union. That way, you'll have the money to get you through when the car breaks down.

You don't need a credit card; it may not affect you negatively to have one, but when I got my first (years before I heard of Dave Ramsey) an emergency was something like buying concert tickets, etc. Over the years, I can't imagine what the interest I've paid would have bought me.

Research shows that a person will spend much more if they pay with credit. Dont do it!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Talk to your bank about a pre-paid credit card from them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

orchard bank is a good one to start credit. a secured card is also good for building credit.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Some prepaid credit cards build credit (orchard bank is one of them too)

I think cell phones build credit, any lease like Aarons would build credit. A secured card (like Carrie mentioned). They should give you a reason when you get turned down. Be careful, inquiries on your credit start docking your score too.

Go to annualcreditreport and get your credit report and see what's on there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Davenport on

I would say screw the credit card companies, you have done it your way this long, just start saving cash for an emergency fund, that is what covers you if the car breaks down.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I would go to your bank and talk to them about it. They may suggest finding someone to cosign. Some banks offer secured credit cards (which are really just like debit cards) where you put down a certain amount of money and that's your credit limit. Possibly get a small loan and pay it off to show good credit. There might be other ways.

Many people who have credit cards qualified when they were in college. The theory was college students were good risks because if they couldn't pay their own bill mommy and daddy would. Not sure that's very true with the current economy.

Talk to your bank. They really should be able to give you some options.

Added: I agree with Mommy. Not sure you really need to go down this road. If you're really concerned about having one "just in case," I would seriously look into one that is secured. That way you can't overspend, get in way over your head and take years and years to pay of silly purchases ... not that that happened to me :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

Isn't it ironic that high school seniors and college students get mail all the time for pre-approved credit cards, even though they (typically) have NO CREDIT HISTORY???? My mom had a friend, who after her divorce, could NOT get a credit card (all previous cards had been in her husband's name) but yet her 19 year old son got stuff in the mail almost daily. So stupid! Curious to see your answers.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I had credit cards when I was in my early 20s they were easy to obtain while in college. Once I paid them off I got rid of them since they are trouble anyway. Fast forward Ive been married for almost 8 years now. I am an authorized user on my husbands credit card. I also have a card for Old Navy and Victories Secret - I never hand a balance, I pay it off when I do use it. So last year Im trying to build my business and they tell me I have no credit! Boy was I confused!

In order to build my own credit I had to apply for a joint credit card with my husband. I even tried to fight it as I wanted to put myself as the primary person, it was not working as I dont have a job! So we got our first joint account and it was the start of hell! I got my first credit card lol. Now the offers wont stop pouring in!

It was the only way for me to start building credit as they told me I had none even though I have the mortgage under my name along with my husband including the store cards! Go Figure.



answers from Omaha on

We have no credit either. We were bad as youths and took on so much at 19 that there was no getting back. So we had to claim bankruptcy. Had great jobs making more money than any 19 year old should make. Before we knew it we had a large car payment, nearly 5K in credit card debt, loans. You get the point. Well that has dropped off after all these years but we didn't do ANYTHING on credit since then. We also have the usual bills and pay them on time but it hasn't reported anything to an agency because well we pay them and they only report if you are in default.

So we applied for a mortgage recently. We were turned down due to insufficient credit history. The banker was very nice and told me we need to get a secured credit card. Put something on it and pay on that something for 6 months and reapply and we should be approved easy as pie. They weren't even interested in seeing that we'd paid our rent on time for over 5 years.

So I'd say the same to you. Get a secured credit card for right now. Apparently after having one of those for 6 months you can get real credit cards easier too. You just secure it with lets say 500 dollars and that is the max you can put on there but once you've established payment history you can get rid of that and get another one that doesn't require being secured.



answers from New York on

That seems to be the magical question. Years ago the best place to establish credit was to get a department store to give you a low limit card. Then you could make a few charges and pay them off quickly, therefore establishing credit. However, with today's economy stores aren't issuing cards like they used to.

Another option is a secured credit card. You deposit money into an account at a bank that you do not touch, then your issued a credit card. Each month you receive a bill that you pay, the original deposit remains untouched. This way if you default on the credit card, the bank will take the money that you've deposited.

Congratulations on living without a card all these years. I don't know how you do it. We need a card for everything making reservations, buying airline tickets, etc.


answers from St. Louis on

Not sure if anyone has mentioned this but it is usually easier to get an overdraft line of credit for your checking account. This is because you already have an established history with your bank and they are generally for a small amount.

Here is the rub, you have to use it and pay it off for it to benefit your credit rating. So what you would do is access it, not through the overdraft process, wait a week or so and pay it back. Lather rinse repeat. Silly but that is how you do it. Troy and I throw something on our credit card once a month and pay it off when the bill comes.

It is actually harder for someone your age to establish credit because creditors look at it as why now, why if they are getting along just fine are they now choosing to establish credit. Unfortunately they tend to think you are like everyone else, you are in trouble.


answers from Dallas on

1. Pull your credit report
2. Get your Fico/Credit Score
3. Once you find out how your credit looks and your score go to a website designed to provide cards suited for your credit history and/score. (i.e.
Go for the smaller cards to build credit. Capital One, Walmart, and Home Depot. Walmart may be the easiest to get due to they will start will a small credit limit but with good payments you can get a higher limit; then move onto applying for a better card.



answers from Washington DC on

Go to the mall and apply to Macy's or Belk's, Kohl's, Penney's, these are usually easy to get and they will give you maybe a $500 limit.
Use it and pay it off for 3 to 5 months. THen apply for a Visa. USe that and pay it off for a while.
Keep using your cards here and there and pay them off.
When creditors pull your credit they will see that you are dependable and pay off your bills on time.
The only thing creditors see is that book club fee. So you are a credit risk.



answers from Chicago on

After I graduated from college, I tried to get a loan. They wouldn't do it unless I had a co-signer. Luckily, a co-worker trusted me (and it was only a 90 day 'same as cash' loan) and I quickly paid it back. Suddenly I was getting inundated with credit card offers. I picked one up. Got the card. Paid the minimum payment and then got the next invoice. What is this finance charge thing? Then I understood how interest works and since then have luckily been able to pay all my credit card bills in full each month.

When my mom needed to get a credit line she and Dad took out a car loan, even though they had the cash to pay for it. She made the payments for a few months, enough to establish payment history, and then paid the car off in full.



answers from Omaha on

When my husband and I were first married and were trying to establish credit we ran into this problem. You need credit to get credit! Very frustrating. What we were told to do was get a gas card. They will accept almost anyone and use it just for gas and pay it off each month. Then it starts to build credit. Good Luck!



answers from Rapid City on

Start by going to your bank and getting a low limit credit card. Charge something on it each month and pay it off in full when it comes due. Doing this will help build your credit. If you don't want a bank one, get a store credit card like Sears and do the same. I like the bank one because you can request a small limit and not worry about getting in over your head.

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