How to Build Credit When You’re Young
You’re young, you’re having fun, your whole life is ahead of you, the last thing you are probably thinking about is your credit score. If you are about to head off to college and live in the dorms, you probably won’t even have to think about it until you try to get your first apartment. While it may seem like a daunting thing to start considering right now, you will be very thankful you did down the road. Whatever you decide to do with your future, a good credit score will help you along the way. From renting that first apartment and getting your first credit card, to eventually getting loans and insurance, you will be happy you kept an eye on your credit score. Let’s dive into some ways you can help build your credit while you are young:
We have all heard horror stories about people misusing their credit cards and falling deep into debt, but that doesn’t have to be you. When you use a debit card, your purchase comes directly out of your own bank account. When you use a credit card, the card issuer is the one who is making the initial payment and then you pay them back. Using a debit card generally has no impact on your credit, whereas credit card usage affects your credit score. Using a credit card ultimately helps you build a credit history, but this relies on you making your payments back on time. Make small purchases with it that you can easily pay back and make sure you stay on top of it.
Maybe you are struggling to qualify for your own credit card, which is totally normal for young people and students in college. If that’s the case, consider getting a co-signer to help you qualify for a card. If you do get a co-signer, keep in mind that your payment history could affect not only your credit score, but your co-signers as well. Consider only using your card for small purchases that you know you can pay back. And as always, make sure you are making your payments on time.
If you don’t have any credit history, think about getting federal student loans. Most federal loans do not require a credit check, and they must be used to cover educational costs, so there isn’t any temptation to use that money for something else. While it may seem easy to just put it off until you’re at the finish line, you should consider starting to make payments on your loans as soon as possible. If you make timely payments in a consistent manner, your credit score will most likely start to rise. And as an extra bonus, you’ll have less to pay off when you finally graduate!
On Time Payments
One of the biggest mistakes you can make while you are young is not paying bills on time. It can be easy to put making a payment off. You take one look at the bill, then you never think about it again or tell yourself you will do it later. Making late payments or not paying bills can really damage your credit rating. It is really important that you pay all of your bills on time, and in full. If you are the type of person that forgets to make payments or is frequently late, set up automatic payments whenever you can. That way your bills will get paid without you even thinking about it. But be sure to remember to account for your auto payments when spending on other items. Making purchases without thinking about future payments can lead to accidentally overdrawing your account.
Checking your Credit Report
It can be easy to go most of your young adult life without ever checking your credit report, and just either not thinking about it at all or just holding out hope it's good. But if you are trying to build a good credit score, it can be helpful to check your progress. Once a year, you can get a free credit report from various reporting bureaus, we recommend www.annualcreditreport.com. Getting an idea of where you are at can help you make a plan for moving forward. You can get a better idea of what factors are making a positive or negative impact on your score. We also offer credit monitoring through our online and mobile banking platform!
Don’t go overboard with purchases, make your payments in full and on time, and try to be thinking about your credit score even if it’s not relevant to your current situation.
« Return to "MFCU Blog"