How an alternative credit report can help you buy a computer

If you're in the market for a new computer, consider getting a line of credit.

If you're in the market for a new computer, consider getting a line of credit.

A good laptop not only enables you to be more productive it connects you to sites where you can apply to jobs with the click of a button. 

"Only 50% of individuals making $30,000 a year or less own a desktop or laptop."

The problem is, it's not easy for everyone to access these devices because they're so expensive. According to Pew Research, only 50 percent of individuals making $30,000 a year or less own a desktop or laptop. If you happen to be in a similar financial predicament, lines of credit from electronics retailers can help. Here's how you can obtain them. 

The challenges of getting a line of credit 
If you go to an electronics retailer that offers lines of credit, it will probably run a credit check on you. This means a customer representative will pull your credit report, which details whether you've paid your credit card bills and loans on time and in full. 

But what if you've never owned a credit card or taken out a loan? That would make you "credit invisible," meaning you're one out of 24 million Americans who don't have enough credit data for credit bureaus to develop a report on you, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In addition, those in the lower or moderate income categories are more likely to be credit invisible than those in the middle or upper class. 

So where does that leave you? Retailers need something to assess your ability to pay off the credit line. Your best option is to get a free alternative credit report. 

Why should you get an alternative credit report? 
Here's how an alternative credit report works. Chances are you pay rent, utility bills and a monthly phone subscription. You've never once made a late payment. That's the type of information a retailer would want to see. 

"Consider buying cheaper computers to save money."

What you can do is go to a service that offers free alternative credit reports. PRBC is probably your best option. It allows you to connect your bank, utility and other accounts to our service, which tracks how diligently you pay your bills. You can access your PRBC alternative credit report 15 minutes after signing up, and use it however often you want, free of charge. 

Back to the computer store. When you apply for a line of credit, provide your alternative credit report. According to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the retailer will have to consider the information within the report before deciding on whether to extend a line of credit. 

Get one of the cheaper options 
If all you're looking to do is increase your productivity and connect to the internet, you don't need to buy a $1,000 computer. Brands like Lenovo and Dell offer laptops between $300 and $400, so there's no reason to take out a line of credit for $2,000 when all you require is a $300 PC. 

The main point is to spend within your means. A $1,000 computer may seem sexy, but it could put you in debt that's difficult to manage later on.