It's never too late - or too early - to build your credit. Your credit history may be recorded in detailed reports, and your score may be a reflection of those files, but a credit score is also a snapshot from a moment in time. It changes and fluctuates constantly.
If you fell on hard times and your credit suffered as a result, you don't have to accept that it will be bad for life. And if you are young and have never obtained credit, it's never too early to think about establishing it. Negative activity in your past will damage your credit less and less as time goes on, and recent positive activity is weighted more heavily in scoring models.
What's the Point?
Is the answer to the question, "Do you like saving money?" ever no? A good credit score can save you money over the course of your life, so of course you want yours to be strong.
How? You will be able to qualify for better interest rates on all your accounts - mortgages, loans, credit cards, you name it. In the majority of cases, the interest rate you are charged on an account is directly tied to your credit rating. In some states, a better score could mean cheaper car insurance premiums as well.
If you like to save money, it will be worth your while to improve your score because it's cheaper to navigate life with a better rating. Even a marginal difference can save you big time. To see this in action, Credit.com has an excellent tool to calculate how much your debt will cost you over a lifetime, based on your score range.
That is, of course, if you are even able to get approved for an account. You may be turned down entirely if you have a shaky (or nonexistent) credit score.
Therein lies the problem for those with damaged or thin credit. It takes credit to build credit, but it's hard to get approved for it when yours is damaged. How do you solve this dilemma?
How to Build Your Credit
If you have weakened your credit with unhealthy practices, it's time to stop any further damage. A credit score comes from five core factors: payment history, amounts owed, length of history, credit mix and new activity.
The two biggest determinants of a score are also the factors that you have the most control over: making on-time payments and keeping credit card utilization low.
Above all else, you need to make sure that you never miss a payment on any account from now on, and get and keep the utilization of each of your credit cards under 30%. That means that you have a balance that's less than 30% of a card's limit.
As for building and establishing a positive recent history, many of you with damaged or no credit will need easily-obtainable methods like these:
- Piggyback Your Way to a Beginning – There are ways that you can use a friend's or family member's strong credit history to your advantage. You can have them cosign on a credit card account or become an authorized user on one of their cards. After a while, this could raise your score to the point where you are able to head off into the world of credit on your own.
- Open a Secured Credit Card – These operate just like regular credit cards, except that you put down your own money as collateral. You deposit money into an account, and you are given a credit card with that amount as its limit. It is best practice to charge to it sparingly, keep the utilization under 30%, and always make the monthly payments on time. Click here if you are in need of a trusted secured card source.
- Have Your Rent Payments Reported – You could sign up for a service that reports your rent payments to the credit bureaus. This adds to your credit file, and shows the credit bureaus that you're staying on top of a large monthly expense.
The operative word in credit building is time. It takes time to truly see the positive effects of healthy credit practices. But it will be worth it when you are saving money on all of your accounts for the rest of your life.
When Your Car Needs Can't Wait
If you need a vehicle, but think that your bad or thin credit will stop you from being able to get approved for an auto loan, think again. Auto Credit Express can help people with less than perfect credit find a car dealer that can help them out. If your vehicle needs are urgent, start the process today by filling out our free and easy online application. We look forward to helping you.