If you are just getting started on building your credit, it can be challenging to navigate the sometimes counterintuitive rules of the financial marketplace. Thankfully, you can determine where you currently stand by getting your free credit score online. Then, you can formulate a plan to build your credit and set yourself up for financial freedom and prosperity. Here are some essential tips on building your credit from scratch.
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Apply for a Credit Card
Credit cards are the quickest way to build credit, though not the only way. If you’re looking to build credit and get some rewards in the process, credit cards are your best bet. You’ll want to seek out a card that has low interest and offers rewards that are applicable to your life. Some cards give more significant rewards for daily purchases, while others are travel-focused. Some cards even provide luxury benefits like a concierge service. Some cards have annual fees, while others don’t. Make sure you compare your options on a trusted site to know you’re getting the best and most current deals.
If you have no credit built at all, a secured credit card may be your only option. These cards require a cash deposit to open. Once you obtain your card, the general guideline is to use less than 30% of your available credit. You do want to use your cards for most purchases, though, because not using enough credit can also affect your score. There are card options that are student-focused and those created specifically for users with no credit.
Pay Your Loans and Bills on Time
Student loans can be a challenge for many, but they offer an excellent opportunity to build your credit. If you pay them back on time, it can positively affect your score. Unfortunately, if you don’t pay them on time, it can also affect your score negatively. If you don’t have student loans, taking out a personal loan is another way to build your credit. The age of your accounts is a factor in your credit score, so the longer you keep any credit-building accounts open, the better your average account age will be. Paying other bills on time is also essential. Missed payments can cause collections to come calling and affect your score.
Mix Up Your Portfolio
Having different types of credit accounts, like the two above, can increase your credit score. Phone, internet, cable, and other repeating payments and bills are often reported to credit agencies and help your average as well. You can even request that your consistent rent payments be reported to the credit bureau, offering you another opportunity to up your score. Rent payments are rarely reported, so this is something you will likely need to speak to your landlord about. A diverse group of accounts is another lesser-known factor for building credit that is important to pay attention to.
Become an Authorized User
If you’re not ready or able to get your own credit card, you can request that a family member add you as an authorized user to their account. You will want to make sure whoever you choose is responsible and has good credit, as it could negatively affect your score if they don’t. This is a way to take a step towards building credit without the full weight of a sole account on your shoulders.
Building credit isn’t as daunting as it seems once you do a little research. There are loans specifically targeted for building credit, as well as cards created for new users. Make sure you take your time figuring out the best options for you, and you will be able to start reaching your financial goals in no time.
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