There are ways to establish credit without out jumping head first into it. Below you will find a few ways to slowly immerse yourself into the world of credit or help improve your score.
Open a checking or savings account: Establishing a relationship with a financial institution can help when trying to establish credit. By doing this you can also maybe take advantage of some the products your financial institution may offer. Some lenders ask to see bank statements to show your savings and spending habits prior to making the approval for a loan. Credit unions are a great alternative to traditional banks and usually have membership perks.
Apply for a secured credit card: A secured credit card is backed by a cash deposit equal to your credit limit that is paid up front. Although you are paying a deposit, a secured card is still used in the same manner as a traditional credit card. You can still: buy items, make payments, and incur interest if the balance is not paid in full. The deposit is refundable once the account is closed, but if payments are not made the deposit will be used as collateral. Remember, the purpose of a secured card is to jump-start your credit so you can qualify for a traditional credit card.
Become an authorized user on another person’s credit card: This is a great way for a family member or significant other to help you in your journey to establishing credit. As an authorized user, you will have access to the card while building your credit. This is a good way to build your credit because you are not legally obligated to pay for the charges against the card. If you are going to take on the responsibility of swiping for purchases, be sure to create a game plan with the primary account holder on how to reimburse them.
Use your rent payment history: Most landlords do not report positive rental history to credit agencies, but there are companies that you can use to report it for you. If you are a renter, paying rent is already something you are doing. Why not use it to boost your credit score? Try out Credit Karma or ask your landlord if they can start reporting your monthly payments for a small fee.
Pay off old debts: Remember that small unpaid balance from your previous landlord or old credit card? Those debts still show up on your credit report and can affect your score. You get 1 free credit report per reporting agency per year. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion each have their own reporting systems but ultimately include similar information. Be sure to check your report every year, since it can help alert you to old unpaid accounts or fraudulent identity theft.
Building and maintaining a good credit score is vital to future financial purchases like buying a car, house, or applying for loans. Many landlords and employers also run credit reports that can affect your application status. Small, positive steps over time can help establish credit and improve your score without making major life changes. You have the power!