Guide to Building Your Credit Without a Credit Card or co-signer

How to build credit without a credit card as a college student

“Hey, do you want to learn how to build your credit score,” I yelled across the street. It was April. I was drenched in sweat and was standing next to my table at the Alumni Walk on campus. A student stopped and headed toward my table. I then proceeded to tell her what makes up her credit score and what can help her credit score.

Finally, I asked her how did she feel about her credit score. She told me that she didn’t have a credit card, so she probably didn’t have a credit score.The thing about credit scores is that you don’t need a credit card to build it up. Using a credit card responsibility is just one way to get there.


So often, we are taught that getting a credit card during college is the only way, but there are a lot of other ways to grow your credit score in college without a credit card.

How do you get a credit score?

A credit score measures how likely you are to pay back your debt. In the U.S., we have 3 credit bureaus that each gives you a credit score. Each of these credit bureaus uses the type of credit, payment history, length of credit history, credit utilization (how much you owe), and new to determine your credit score.

In order for the credit bureaus to get the right information to formulate a credit score, they need the loaner to report the payments to them.



Loans are one way to build your credit score without using a credit card. With loans, you can easily get burnt, so you want to make sure that you can pay everything off on time.

Also, some loans are almost impossible to get when you have no/little credit and don’t want a co-signer. For now, we’ll be getting a deeper look into using student loans and credit builder loans to build your credit without a co-signer or credit card.

I have talked to a lot of people that thought they didn’t have any credit because they didn’t factor in the loans they are paying back. Although paying off loans isn’t fun, the upside is that you can start building your credit without thinking about it.


Student Loans

According to, 71% of college students graduating from a 4-year college in the US had student loan debt. That was in 2012, so the percentage could have possibly increased.

By paying back your student loans in a timely manner, you show that you are credit trustworthy, so this helps you bring up your score.

You don’t have to pay the whole thing back. If you can just dedicate a little cash each month, you can apply some to your loan. The best part is you’re building your credit while lowering your student loan amount.

Credit builder loans

If you’re like me, you try to avoid taking out loans when you can. That’s why I really like the idea of credit builder loans. With these loans, the bank will “loan” you money and when you pay them back it goes into a CD.

A CD stands for Certificate Deposit, and it’s a place you put your money for a certain amount of time and earn interest. The only catch for a credit builder loan is if you miss a payment, it’ll hurt your credit score.

If you want to go down this road, you need to find a bank that offers it as an option. Looking up credit unions that offer it is a great start. Another option is using a website like that specializes in doing credit builder loans.



Paying your bills can help increase your credit score. It’s not as simple as using a loan or credit card to build your credit though.


Surprisingly, paying your rent can boost your credit score.  The way this works is your landlord would report that you paid your rent to the credit bureaus (Equifax, Transunion, Experian).

First, ask your landlord if he/she reports payments to the credit bureaus. If he/she doesn’t report your payments, there is still hope! Certain rental payment service providers automatically report to the credit bureaus.


I’ve left out car loans and personal loans for building credit. It’s easy to build credit with a car loan and personal loan, but it’s harder to get these loans if your a college student that does not want a co-signer.

Car Loans

Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world with public transportation that worked? Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for most places. I moved from New York to Nevada. In Las Vegas, everything is so far away so it takes forever to get somewhere if you walk. Even with biking, everything is still too far away.

A car becomes the main way to get around. Most of the time that requires a loan. As with student loans, make sure you pay your loan on time, and your credit score will grow!

Personal Loans

Sometimes, we need to take out a loan for something other than college, a car, or house. That’s where getting a personal loan can come in. Just like any other loan, paying your personal loan on time will boost your credit score.


There are a lot of advantages to building your credit score while you’re in college. Even so, getting a credit card in college might be too intimidating and a co-signer might not be available.

Choosing one or a couple of the options presented while staying ahead on payments will help you reach your goal.


How are you going to build your credit score?

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