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How to Build Credit Without a Credit Card: 10 Easy Ways to Build Credit

10 easy ways to learn how to build credit without a credit card.
Lauren Bedford - Finance Writer
Written by

Lauren Bedford

Lauren Bedford - Finance Writer
Written by
Lauren Bedford
Finance Writer

Lauren is a published content writer and journalist. In the last five years, she has written about a range of subjects, including business, technology, and finance.

Learn more about our editorial process

Derek Sall - Founder/Personal Finance Expert
Reviewed by

Derek Sall

Verified by an expert
Derek Sall - Founder/Personal Finance Expert
Reviewed by
Derek Sall
Founder/Personal Finance Expert

Derek has a Bachelor's degree in Finance and a Master's in Business. As a finance manager in the corporate world, he regularly identified and solved problems at the C-suite level. Today, Derek isn't interested in helping big companies. Instead, he's helping individuals win financially—one email, one article, one person at a time.

Learn more about our editorial process

Deepti Nickam - Finance Writer
Fact-checking

Deepti Nickam

Deepti Nickam - Finance Writer
Fact-checking
Deepti Nickam
Finance Writer

Content writing and marketing professional with 5+ years of experience in the B2B and B2C sectors. Deepti has written about several subjects, including finance, project management, human resources, and more.

Learn more about our editorial process

April, 27 2023
9 min
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You’re running through the airport—and your boarding gate with the golden ticket to a good credit score is about to close. 

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But with kids rolling on the ground, slow walkers trying to find their passports, and lines of people who have no intention of moving—it doesn’t look promising. 

Welcome to the world of building credit without a credit card. 

We’re about to give you a fast pass to that golden ticket, though—along with all the benefits that come with an air-mazing credit score. 

This article will tell you—

  • How to understand your credit score.
  • The benefits of building credit with no credit card. 
  • The best ways to raise your credit score without a credit card.

How to Build Credit Without a Credit Card

Before we take off—it’s handy to know where you stand on the credit ladder

Most banks use the FICO credit score range to see how you stack up, so let’s break it down

  • Excellent: 800–850
  • Very Good: 740–799  
  • Good: 670–739
  • Fair: 580–669
  • Poor: 300–579

What’s so special about having a good credit score, anyway? 

The simple answer: it’ll make your life way easier

(Having good credit is like picking up your date in a Ferrari with a private yacht waiting on the sidelines—your chances of success just tripled.) 

With good credit, you can get—

  • Better insurance rates. 
  • More negotiating power. 
  • Lower interest rates for loans. 
  • Greater freedom when choosing a credit card. 
  • More housing options. 

However, if your credit score is low (and you’re freaking out now)—no need to worry. 

10 Easy Ways To Build Credit Without a Credit Card

There are plenty of alternative ways to build credit with no credit card (and earn those bragging rights).

1. Get a loan

Most people have no interest in loans when they want to build credit—it can cause a slight dip in your credit score, which seems pretty counterproductive. 

But hear me out—

If you want to know how to raise your credit score without a credit card, the first thing to remember is you’ll be rewarded for good behavior

Making on-time payments can show how responsible you are, which has a positive effect on your credit score

From personal loans to car loans—all your repayments will get reported to the credit bureaus and show up on your report. 

(Of course, you should only consider going down this route if you actually need a loan.)

Plus, if you’re the type to forget your anniversary (five times in a row), maybe this isn’t the best option—as any late payments are bad news for your credit score. 

2. Take out a credit builder loan 

Never heard of a credit builder? Well, you’re not alone. 

Essentially, it’s a type of installment loan where you’ll have to make fixed monthly payments

We know what you’re thinking: “This sounds like a standard loan—why are you repeating yourself”? 

Well, the main difference from a typical loan is that you don’t get the cash until you’ve paid back the amount in full—in the meantime, the loan will stay in your savings or CD accounts. 

So if you need the loan ASAP (medical bills are no joke)—a regular loan might be a better option. 

Despite these differences, building credit without credit cards works the same way—you make on-time payments to impress the credit bureaus, and boom—watch that credit score shoot up. 

3. Repay student loans

Going to college sounds like a great idea until you realize that the last few years spent partying and attending a few lectures have left you with $30,000 in debti (your subtle reminder that college isn’t for everyone). 

On the bright side, having a degree under your belt can (hopefully) get you a job that’ll pay enough so you can start paying off your student loan

Embrace your inner teacher’s pet by making on-time, scheduled repayments—these will get reported to the three major credit bureaus, and you’ll be making your way to the top of the class in no time. 

You might have gotten away with skipping a few classes at college, but making late or missed payments on your student loans can knock down that credit score—ah, the joys of adulthood. 

4. Have a phone plan

So, you’ve managed to escape student debt, and you don’t need a loan to pay for a start-up vegan doughnut business—but if you’ve been living in the 21st century, you probably have a phone (you might even be glued to it). 

If you have a phone plan with your contract, your payment history could be reported to the credit bureaus. 

If you manage to pay all your bills on time (and avoid making long-distance calls to Australia), you’ll be rewarded with a boost to your credit score. 

Don’t freak out if your phone company places a credit check before accepting your application. Yes, your credit score could take a small hit—but you can quickly turn this around when you start paying off those phone bills. 

5. Pay your rent 

Unless you want your landlord banging at your door at 6 a.m.—you should already be paying your rent. 

Nobody likes to see all their cash disappear every month—but there might be an upside (besides avoiding early morning wake-up calls). 

If you have an accommodating landlord—you might be able to sweet-talk them into reporting your rental payments to the three major credit bureaus. 

If the property owner can’t (or won’t) do this—you can use third-party sites, such as RentTrack or Rent Reporters to do it on their behalf. 

Some sites will report your rent for free, but others may charge subscription or monthly fees—so it’s best to speak with your landlord first (and bake them your finest cookies). 

6. Make payments on time 

By now, we’ve established that making on-time payments is a key step in learning to raise a credit score without a credit card.  

From personal loans to student repayments, making punctual payments is a great alternative to a credit card. 

As long as you can show your creditworthiness, it should be enough to get in the credit bureau's good books.

But it’s not just repaying loans that’ll boost your credit score—

Nobody looks forward to getting their monthly bills (winter heating is the stuff of nightmares), but if there’s just one good thing to come from that dreaded bank statement—it’s making on-time bill payments that can help increase your credit. 

The darkest times come when you forget to pay your electricity bill—so set reminders, scheduleautomatic payments, and don’t take hour-long showers in the morning—anything to make sure you get those bills paid. 

7. Apply for a secured credit card 

Building credit with no credit score is like showing up at the movie theatre an hour late—for a Portuguese film with no subtitles. (Pretty hopeless.) 

If you want to build credit with no credit score, plenty of secured credit cards will accept those with bad credit. 

You’ll just need to cough up a security deposit (usually between $50–$500), which protects the bank if you drop the ball on payments. 

Once you’ve got your card, you can apply some clever credit-building tactics:

  • Keeping your balance low.
  • Maintaining a good credit utilization ratio.
  • Paying your balance on time every month.

Stick to these tips, and you’ll soon have enough credit to get a big-shot unsecured card

Just check that the secured card reports to the credit bureaus—otherwise, all your hard work and good credit history will be for nothing.

8. Manage your credit utilization 

If you’re going down the secured card route, you probably noticed the term “debt-to-credit ratio.” 

Sounds complicated—but you don’t need to be a maths whizz to figure this out (take it from me). 

In (somewhat) simple terms—your credit utilization ratio is the percentage of overall credit usage.

You can work this out by dividing the sum of all your balances by your card's credit limits

(For example, if you have a secured card with a $1,000 limit and a $200 balance—your debt-to-credit ratio is 20%.) 

If you’re below 30%, you’re on your way to building up that credit score. Anything above 50% means you better start cutting your spending and paying down your balances. 

9. Sign up as an authorized user 

We don’t encourage skipping classes, using someone else's notes, then riding on their coattails—

But when you need to improve your grades, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. 

While it’s not exactly the same—you can use similar tricks to build credit for free

Signing up as an authorized user means you can add your name to another card (someone you trust) which will give you physical access to their line of credit. 

If the main cardholder has good credit history—it’ll have a positive impact on your own credit score. 

However, just like if your classmate gives you sloppy notes—if the cardholder makes late payments or poor credit decisions, you’ll be going down with them. 

10. Show off your credit history 

Social media can reveal whether you’re a selfie-taker, over-sharer, or keyboard warrior—all without meeting the person behind the screen. 

The same goes for credit reports, where data and numbers rule the roost. 

Knowing how to improve your credit score without a credit card means maximizing those numbers and showing the credit bureaus what you’re made of. 

The Bottom Line

So, if you’re still wondering if you can build credit without a credit card—

Yes, you can

Whether it’s paying your rent, repaying a loan, or getting those bills paid—if you put the work in, you’ll see that credit score shoot up in no time

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a credit card to build credit?

No, you don’t need a credit card to improve your credit score. 

If you want to learn how to raise your credit score without a credit card, you can start by making on-time payments, re-paying your loans, or signing up as an authorized user. 

Can you have a credit score without a credit card?

Yes, you can have a credit score without a credit card. 

Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score and includes any late or missed payments. 

Other factors include the amount owed (30%) and credit history (15%). 

Is it possible to build credit with no credit? 

Yes, it’s possible to build credit with no credit. 

To start building credit from no credit, you can make on-time payments for bills, student repayments, or rent.

Another alternative to a credit card includes getting a credit-builder loan—but this should only be used if you need the extra cash. 

How to build credit at 18 without a credit card?

If you're a college student, repaying your loans is the best way to build credit without a credit card. 

Other payments, such as paying your phone bills and rent can also improve your credit. 

Does using a credit card build credit? 

Yes, you can build your credit with a credit card—by making punctual payments and using your card frequently. 

You can also reduce new credit applications, make sure you keep your credit utilization low, and increase your credit limit.

Sources

See all

2023 Student Loan Debt Statistics: Average Student Loan Debt – Forbes Advisor. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/advisor/student-loans/average-student-loan-statistics/

How Is Your Credit Score Determined? - Experian. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/how-is-your-credit-score-determined/

Editorial team

Meet the team
Lauren Bedford - Finance Writer

Finance Writer

Lauren is a published content writer and journalist. In the last five years, she has written about a range of subjects, including business, technology, and finance.

Kacper Kozicki - Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief

Kacper is an editor, writer, and multilingual translator with expertise in producing tailored content for global online brands.

Derek Sall - Founder/Personal Finance Expert

Founder/Personal Finance Expert

Derek has a Bachelor's degree in Finance and a Master's in Business. As a finance manager in the corporate world, he regularly identified and solved problems at the C-suite level. Today, Derek isn't interested in helping big companies. Instead, he's helping individuals win financially—one email, one article, one person at a time.

Deepti Nickam - Finance Writer

Finance Writer

Content writing and marketing professional with 5+ years of experience in the B2B and B2C sectors. Deepti has written about several subjects, including finance, project management, human resources, and more.

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