How to apply for credit with no credit

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How to apply for credit with no credit

These days, having good credit is less of a suggestion and more of a mandate. Let’s face it, when you have good credit, you have more opportunities. You can lease a nicer apartment and put a downpayment on a newer car. Having good credit also comes in handy when you need to apply for a loan.

So, what do you do when you have bad or no credit history whatsoever? How do you apply for a loan with no credit? Younger people, new immigrants, and anyone afraid of the notion of debt are left wondering how to get a loan with no credit.

Luckily, there are ways you can get a loan with no credit. It is possible and, while it might take some work, the benefits go well beyond getting approved. In fact, some loans that don’t require credit actually provide more options. However, some of these loan types boast more paperwork and require collateral, as a result.

Getting a loan with little or no credit history is more than possible. Furthermore, once you get the loan, you can start building, repairing, or rebuilding your credit history. That will make it easier the next time you need to apply for credit.

How to get a loan with no credit

We will cover a variety of topics as well as applying for a loan or other credit line with no credit. These will include:

  • How to apply for a credit card
  • How to apply for a personal loan
  • How to apply for a car loan
  • How to apply for a mortgage


How to apply for a credit card
How to apply for a credit card © NAS CRETIVES/

This is the easiest type of credit to get without having past credit. There are three basic ways to start building credit.

1. Become an authorized user on a credit card belonging to a family member or friend. You can’t be denied because there is no application process, says John Ulzheimer, credit expert for

The primary cardholder simply adds you as an authorized user and you get your own credit card with your name on it. The account and payment history will be reported to the credit bureaus, populating your newly created credit reports. The other advantage, says Ulzheimer? You have no legal obligation to pay the debt on the card.

2. Ask someone to co-sign to help you qualify. That means you and your co-signer are liable for the debt. If someone doesn’t pay it, each person’s credit linked to the account gets dinged.

3. Get a secured credit card. These cards require a security deposit that acts as collateral against your credit line. The amount of the deposit, typically between $300 and $500, equals the credit limit.

“Usability is an issue with secured cards because the credit limits are generally extremely low,” says Ulzheimer, “unless you are able to make a large deposit with the bank.”

How to apply for a personal loan
How to apply for a personal loan © Andresr/

The ability to get a personal loan without credit history is much harder than getting a credit.

“Banks operate on risk, and they have to properly underwrite loans to make sure they are making prudent loans to people who can pay them back,” says David Pommerehn, senior counsel for the Consumer Bankers Association.

In most cases, the consumer would need to borrow against their home to get a personal loan with no credit history. That may work for Americans who have paid their debt obligations, including a mortgage. In the absence of a credit file, the bank will look long and hard at a person’s income, other assets and the value of their home, Pommerehn says. In special circumstances, banks may consider other forms of collateral besides a home.

“It would be on a case-by-case basis,” says Pommerehn. “It would be a unique circumstance if another form of collateral was used.”

Otherwise, the options are limited. Consumers can get a co-signer to qualify for a small loan if a family member or friend is willing to take the risk. A handful of banks are toying with loans that consider direct deposit history of paychecks and allow consumers to borrow part of the deposit amount, says Pommerehn.

How to apply for a car loan
How to apply for a car loan © Brocreative/

Auto lenders typically require the four C’s to give out a loan: credit, capacity, collateral and character, says George Hrisoulis, vice president of operations at Auto Credit Express. But if no credit exists, a lender may still OK a car loan if the other C’s are above average.

For example, have you been at your job for at least a year? Is it a full-time, permanent job with steady pay? Is the car payment less than 20 percent of your gross income? These factors, along with the length of time at your current residence and education, are other key measures auto lenders look at.

The lender also may require a larger down payment than the typical 10 percent or want the sales price to be close to the book value of the car.

“The lender wants to feel comfortable that there’s equity in the deal and that it is collectible should the borrower default,” says Hrisoulis.

Once again, another option is to get a co-signer, says Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor at

The remaining alternatives are often costly, says Reed. Car title loans come with high interest rates, and buy-here-pay-here car lots often place GPS systems in cars for easier repossession.

“This is not what we recommend,” Reed says.

How to apply for a mortgage
How to apply for a mortgage © Goodluz/

Getting a home loan without a credit history takes more time, more manual underwriting and more paperwork.

“I can do loans like that,” says John Stearns, a mortgage banker with American Fidelity Mortgage in Wisconsin. “FHA is the answer.” He only needs three trade lines, such as cable, cellphone or utility bills that have a 12-month history.

The Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, insures mortgages against default through approved lenders and approves borrowers with riskier credit or smaller down payments. It provides nontraditional credit guidelines for consumers lacking credit history.

These lists show nontraditional credit items FHA considers for approving consumers with little to no credit.

Group I

Group II

  • Rental housing payments
  • Gas heating payments
  • Electricity payments
  • Water payments
  • Land-line telephone service
  • Cable TV
  • Auto leases
  • Personal loans
  • Insurance payments
  • Child care expenses
  • School tuition
  • Rent-to-own stores
  • Internet/cellphone service
  • Regular deposits into savings accounts

Group I accounts are considered more predictive of repayment than Group II payments, says Pava Leyrer, president of Heritage National Mortgage in Michigan. But several Group II items can make up for a shortfall of Group I accounts.

“It really depends on the strength of the terms,” Leyrer says. “This is a loan that can be given, so consumers need to speak to someone experienced to put it together correctly.”