Maybe you’re about to graduate from college, you’ve been working a few years at a low-paying job, or your credit tanked along with the economy. Regardless of the reason, you may find it tough to get credit.
If that’s the case, you’re not alone. A survey by VantageScore Solutions, an alternative credit scoring system created by the three big credit bureaus, found one-third of millennials can’t get the credit they need. In contrast, one-quarter of all those surveyed across all age groups have trouble getting credit.
Of those millennials who can’t get credit, one-third don’t have a credit score, and more than 40 percent have a limited credit history.
Of course it might not help that millennials are eschewing traditional credit cards. A 2014 survey for sister site Bankrate.com found 63 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds didn’t have a credit card. In comparison, just 35 percent of those over the age of 30 didn’t have a credit card.
Without a credit history and credit score you might wind up paying more for auto insurance and homeowners insurance, as insurers take those into account when setting rates, and certain employers may check your credit report before hiring you.
Here are some ways you can get credit as a millennial:
1. Secured credit cards
With a secured card, you’ll need to put up a security deposit, and your credit limit is tied to the deposit amount. So if you put down $500 as a security deposit, you’ll then be able to charge up to $500. But you can’t tap into your security deposit to cover your monthly credit card payments. You’ll have to make those payments out of pocket. You need to be sure the card you choose doesn’t have hefty fees, and that your payments are reported to one of the main credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
2. Community banks and credit unions
Millennials are more likely than other age groups to switch banks, often leaving because of high fees and lousy loyalty programs, a survey by Accenture found.Community banks and credit unions are typically more likely to offer you a traditional credit card than a big bank. The limit may be low, but at least it’s a starting point.
3. Credit builder loans
Say you have to make an emergency car repair or need to buy a new computer — a credit builder loan could provide you with a source of cash, and help build your credit history. Offered by some credit unions and community banks, these loans are generally for small amounts such as $500 to $1,500. Some of the loans are secured and others are unsecured. Just be sure to pay your monthly payments on time so your financial institution has something positive to report to the credit bureaus.
4. Personal loans
With a personal loan you typically borrow a certain amount of money for a certain length of time at a set interest rate. The rate is usually based on your credit history and credit score, so you can expect to pay more than someone with a lengthy credit history and high score. A whole range of companies offer personal loans – banks, credit unions and even alternative lenders like SoFi and Avant.
5. Peer-to-peer loans
Funding for this type of personal loan comes from investors, rather than a financial institution. At companies such as Prosper and Lending Club, you’ll apply for a loan, state how much you want to borrow and what it will be used for. Lenders rate your risk and determine your interest rate. Investors choose which loans they want to invest in.
However you decide to get credit, the sooner you start working on developing, or beefing up, your credit history, the sooner you start saving on the interest you’ll pay on future credit cards and loans, and on insurance rates.