The Fastest Way to Build Credit
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The Fastest Way to Build Credit

At some point in everyone’s life, there comes a time when someone asks to check your credit. Maybe you’re buying a car, renting an apartment, or applying for a loan or a credit card. Whatever the reason, your credit score is like a financial report card that reveals what type of credit risk you are or aren’t.

With a range of 300 to 850, your credit score is determined by several factors, including your payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, and types of credit used.

The higher your score, the more likely you are to be approved for whatever it is you’re applying for and the better the terms you'll receive.

Many people look to build or improve their credit score before making big purchases or are applying for a loan or credit card. Here are several strategies for building credit quickly.

 

Pay your bills on time

Your payment history is a critical factor for building credit. In fact, it accounts for 35% of your FICO score—a type of credit score that may be used when determining whether you qualify for a loan or credit card.

Paying your bills on time or even in advance is a great way to boost this score. If you don’t already, create automatic payments to ensure you never miss a due date. If that’s not an option and you discover you’ve missed a due date, don’t panic. Only payments overdue by 30 days or more are reported to credit bureaus. But do reach out to whomever the money is due and make the payment as soon as you realize you’re late.

 

Get a secured credit card  

A secured credit card is a type of credit card that is backed by a cash deposit that you provide when you apply. The deposit acts as collateral and determines the credit limit for the card.

Often used by individuals who are building or rebuilding their credit history, they are generally easier to qualify for than unsecured cards and provide the opportunity for individuals with limited or poor credit history to demonstrate responsible credit usage and improve their credit score over time.

You can use a secured credit card just like any other credit card, but if you fail to make payments, the issuer can use the deposit to cover the outstanding balance, reducing the issuer's risk.

In addition to looking for a low annual fee for a secured card, you want to be sure it reports payment data to all three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, which will allow you to build a more comprehensive credit history.

 

Become an Authorized User

Another option is to become an authorized user on someone else's credit card, such as a parent or spouse. As an authorized user, you'll benefit from the account's positive payment history and credit utilization, which can help boost your own credit score. However, this only works if the card issuer reports to the credit bureaus. Assuming it does, you have no obligation to use the card—ever—to benefit from the credit boost. But if you do, be sure to honor whatever agreement you reach with the primary holder.

 

Monitor your credit report

Regularly checking your credit report is crucial for building and maintaining good credit. Review your report for any errors or fraudulent activity and dispute any discrepancies with the credit bureaus. You can access your credit report for free once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian (experian.com), Equifax (equifax.com), and TransUnion (transunion.com). You can also check your reports for free weekly by using Annual Credit Report (annualcreditreport.com).     

 

Be Patient  

Building credit takes time. Don't get discouraged if your score doesn't improve overnight. Keep making on-time payments, using credit responsibly, and monitor your credit report. In time, you'll see your score improve and you’ll be one step further down the path to financial security and freedom.

 

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, investment or legal advice. 

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