Build Your Credit
In this day and age, paying cash definitely seems to be a practice that occurred in a different era. Today, credit is a way of life, and plastic has evolved into the currency of choice. Consumer debt in the U.S. now exceeds $2 trillion. It almost doubled from 2000-2005. No wonder in 2005 we had bankruptcy reform.
Your credit can determine what kind of car you drive, what neighborhood you live in, and in some cases, whether or not you get the job you want. With so much riding on your ability to manage debt and pay bills on time, it’s important to learn as much as possible about how to establish and maintain good credit.
How to Establish Credit
There are several ways to establish your credit. Here are some approaches that should help get you started:
- Put your apartment and utilities in your own name. This will establish a regular payment history under your own name and social security number.
- Apply for credit with a local business. Department stores and oil companies often have lower criteria for giving credit.
- Take out a small loan. Even if you don’t need the money, borrowing from a local bank or credit union and making timely payments is a good way to establish your credit.
- Apply for a secured credit card. Available at local banks, your credit limit is equal to the amount you deposit into an account. If you deposit $500, then your credit limit is $500.
- Report credit history information. Make sure all of your creditors or lenders report your information to one of the large credit bureaus so you can build your credit history.
Maintain a Good Credit Rating
Maintaining a good credit rating isn’t difficult but it’s important and should be taken seriously. Since credit information will follow you for seven years, make it positive so it won’t negatively impact your future credit needs.
- Pay your bills on time. This is the best way to keep a strong credit rating and be considered a good credit risk by your future lenders.
- Talk to your creditors. You should contact your creditor immediately if you fall behind in your payments. Most are willing to set up alternative payment options, especially if you inform them right away of your situation.
- Review your credit report. It’s best to review your report annually–that way you can catch and correct any errors or negative information right away. You can also order a report combining information from all three major credit agencies: