Understand your needs and wants before you borrow. The best use of credit usually means borrowing for things that appreciate in value, generate future income or maintain value once the loan is paid off.
- Get a share-secured loan. A share-secured loan means you borrow against the funds you have in your savings account. Your credit is not reviewed at the time the loan is made and making on-time payments for at least six months helps build your credit score.
- Consider starting with a store credit card. It’s often easier to get a store card than a bank card. Make sure to pay the card off each month as store cards often carry high interest rates.
- Research the availability of a secured credit card. Secured cards require a deposit to the card company, and your credit limit equals the amount of the deposit. As with all cards, keep the balance low and make on-time payments for the most positive impact on your credit score.
- Apply for a major credit card. Shop around to make sure you get the best card for your situation. Look for a card with low interest rates and no annual fee. Don’t apply for more than one card at a time; applying for too many cards at once can negatively impact your credit score and decrease your chances of being approved for the card.
- Finance a vehicle purchase. If you do not have a good credit score or you have no credit history, consider having a cosigner. Remember, how you make your payments impacts not only your credit score but the credit score of your cosigner who is equally responsible for the loan.
The FACT Act (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act) makes all Americans over the age of 18 eligible to receive an annual free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies.
- annualcreditreport.com provides online access to your free credit report
- Or call toll-free, 1-877-FACTACT (877-322-8228)
- A credit score is a number that summarizes your credit risk and is based on a snapshot of your credit report at a point in time. A FICO® credit score is broken down into the following percentages, which are based on the importance of the five categories for the general population.
- 35% is your payment history. Late payments make a big impact, especially if they are frequent. Make payments on time, every time to build your credit.
- 30% is the amount you owe. This factor also considers the amount per loan, including credit cards and installment loans. Keep balances low on credit cards and other kinds of revolving debt.
- 15% is the length of your credit history. Your score considers the age of your oldest account, the age of your newest account and the average of all your accounts.
- 10% is your new credit. Be careful about opening new accounts you don’t really need.
- 10% is the types of credit you are using. Your score considers the mix of credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, mortgage loans and finance company accounts.