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How to Build a Credit History

You can’t obtain credit without a positive credit history. You can’t build a history until you’ve had some credit. So what are you supposed to do? There actually are some options for those looking to get started who may not be eligible for conventional credit cards and loans.

Your credit history can affect your insurance, ability to rent an apartment, get a job, or get a cell phone plan.  Credit history is also needed to get all types of loans, from mortgages to department store cards.

While the credit card offers might not be pouring in, you can still start building a positive credit history.  You can acquire and manage small lines of credit.  The following are credit options for people who need to begin building a positive credit history.

  • Cosigner: For young adults (18 years and older), obtain a credit card with a parent of guardian as a co-signer.  Co-signers on an account are equally responsible for the loan.  Therefore, the loan is on their credit reports as well, making a positive or negative impact depending on how the credit is managed.
  • Small loan from a bank: Acquire a small loan for an item for which you already have the money in a separate account.  Then, set up automatic payments to repay the loan.  Using a local bank or credit union where you already have a checking or savings account usually works best.
  • Obtain a secure credit card or loan: Secured cards and loans typically require a cash or collateral security deposit to ensure payment of the debt.  The larger the security deposit or collateral, the higher the credit limit granted.  The cash security deposit is returned when you close the account with the balance fully paid back.

Once you’ve built up some positive history, you need to maintain it.  Check your credit reports annually and correct any errors that may be hurting your report/score.  Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to request reports.  You can contact any of the three credit reporting bureaus to dispute any errors.

Other ways to maintain a positive credit history:

  • Pay bills consistently and on time
  • Maintain reasonable amounts of unused credit
  • Only apply for credit when needed.  This keeps inquiries to a minimum
  • Do not “max out” your credit cards by using the full amount available.  It’s recommended that you only utilize around 30% of your available limit, if possible.  That’s the total combined limit of all your accounts.

ABOUT AUTHOR / Andi

Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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