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The "default" (starting) credit score, credit for 18yo's

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My niece will be turning 18 soon and I am preparing to impart CB wisdom to her (her parents know amusingly little).


What would one's score be when they're 18 years old and have legal adulthood, a social security number, but zero credit history?


Also, is there any chance under the sun of an 18yo being approved for any kind of AmEx (if at all, the Everyday card comes to mind)?  I have SkyMiles Platinum and BCE; AmEx keeps tantalizing me with referral bonuses.  Have my doubts of course.


I also have BofA Platinum Plus Visa and Cash Rewards MC; again I doubt she'd qualify for those but I wonder if BofA would like me if I referred her for their secured card or maybe even their plain ol BankAmericard with a low limit.



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My understanding is that until a creditor reports an account, you don't have a credit score.  I have no idea what a typical credit score is after an initial credit card opening is reported and shows at least 3 months of history.  I presume a starting score around 600, building toward 720 within 12 months.


As far as initiating credit, remember that under the CARD Act, an individual under the age of 21 may not cite "household income" to qualify for credit.  That means that there must be a reliable history of individual income (as substantiated through paystubs and/or w-2's), otherwise a responsible co-signer will be required.


Conventional wisdom (dating to the prior century) was that an effective strategy to initiating credit was to open a gas card and then a department store card.  To a considerable extend this was later augmented by issuers who extended "student cards" to current college students.  Another option is to apply for a card from a local bank where you've had an extended account history, say during high school.  I'll also suggest establishing an account relationship with a local credit union isn't a bad idea.


Secured cards are a back up avenue, but I consider them a better option for those with blemished histories than for those with limited or no prior credit.



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