Three Ways to Grow Your Credit Without an Income

Vinh Nguyen
Three ways to grow your credit without an income hero banner


  • You don’t need to make a lot of money or have a steady job to grow your credit
  • These three steps are things you can do to help grow your credit, even without an income:
    • Become an authorized user on a responsible family member’s credit card account
    • Apply for a secured credit card or credit builder loan
    • Understand payment relief options for student loans and other bills
  • To check your score and learn about what is impacting your credit, sign up for a free Credit Sesame account.

It’s a myth that you have to make a lot of money in order to have a great credit score. The truth is, you can live in a yurt and have an 800 credit score. It all comes down to five score factors: payment history, credit usage, credit age, account mix, and the number of inquiries (learn more about each of these from our Credit Coach!).

Whether you are one of the millions that recently filed for unemployment or are a recent grad applying for jobs, there are steps you can take that don’t require a lot of money that will help you maintain, or even improve your credit and work towards financial stability.

1. Become an authorized user on a responsible family member’s credit card account

You will benefit from the age of their credit history (assuming they’ve had the card for at least a year), on-time payment history, and credit usage. While the primary cardholder is still responsible for making the payments, you get to reap the benefits of building credit from their actions.

2. Apply for a secured credit card or credit builder loan

Think of this as a “starter credit card” that can be an effective way of building credit history. You’ll be required to pay a deposit upfront that effectively becomes your credit limit on that card, so you essentially end up paying yourself back while growing your credit and payment history.

3. Understand payment relief options for your existing bills and student loans

If you took out student loans, find out when your grace period ends so you don’t end up accidentally missing payments. Starting payments as soon as you can at the end of the grace period is another way to build a good payment history. However, if you can’t afford to make payments at that time, you should contact your loan provider as soon as possible to see if there are payment relief options available. Many are willing to work with you on a payment plan that fits your needs so you don’t miss payments and cause your score to drop. Payment history makes up 35% of your credit score, so on-time payments or approved deferments are extremely important when building credit.

Bottom Line

Maintaining and improving your credit score doesn’t have to rely on an income. Taking care of your credit score will save you money in the long run and help set you up for more opportunities (like your dream car or home!) when you do score that job.

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Published June 1, 2020
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Michael Sicking•  June 7, 2020 Edit
No, have not received my stimulus check.