Getting that first credit card can be a real challenge. That's because if you have no credit history yet, banks are often reluctant to risk giving you credit. But Consumer Reports says a new type of credit scoring system called Ultra FICO may help those just starting out get that first critical credit card.
It's part of being an adult, using a credit card to make purchases or go out to dinner. Jake Weintraub, 18, says having a credit card is also important for establishing a credit history so that one day he can eventually rent or buy a home and a car. But so far, his applications for a credit card have gone nowhere.
"Getting rejected from credit cards is definitely a little bit frustrating especially considering that there's nothing else I can do about it," Weintraub said.
To get a credit card you need a credit score. The main scoring system banks use, FICO, bases its score on how well you have handled loans in the past. But what if, like Jake, you've never taken out a loan? A new type of scoring system called UltraFICO will debut this summer and it won't depend on loan history.
"The UltraFICO system is going to base its score on how people use traditional savings and checking accounts," said Consumer Reports Money Editor Tobie Stanger. "Those kinds of accounts are very easy to set-up with just a cash deposit. So those kinds of accounts can be a good choice for somebody with a weak credit history or no credit history to build up their credit."
But, Consumer Reports cautions you will have to opt in and then share confidential information about your banking accounts, such as how often you withdraw and deposit. And it is still an open question as to whether lenders are ready to buy into the Ultra FICO score.
"We have another concern and that is that making credit easier to get may cause some people to get in over their heads and then they may not be able to pay back their debt," Stanger said.
Jake does have a checking and savings account and is careful with his money. Heading back to college, he says he just wants a chance to show he can handle credit responsibly.
But Consumer Reports says the UltraFICO scoring system isn't necessary for people who already have good credit and well-established credit histories. Those people should stick to the traditional FICO scoring system.
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Consumer Reports: UltraFICO scores