Credit is essential, whether building it up from scratch or repairing a bad score. A good credit report and score can open doors for many things, such as loans, credit cards, and mortgages.
There are multiple ways to build credit, including opening your credit card, becoming an authorized user on another person’s account, and taking out a credit-builder loan. These strategies show responsible use of debt and can help you build a solid score.
Pay Your Bills on Time
One of the best ways to build credit is by paying your bills on time. This simple step can help you avoid debt collections, save money on interest rates, and even lower your stress level.
Set up automatic payments with your providers to ensure you don’t miss a payment. This will allow you to connect your bank account with the provider, and your bill payment will be automatically deducted from your checking account on or before your due date.
Additionally, set aside a monthly day when you will pay your bills. This could be on the same day of every month or right after you receive your paycheck. Then, ensure you have all the necessary materials, like a computer or laptop, your checkbook, stamps and envelopes, pens, and a filing system. Please make this a routine to help you stick with it and avoid late fees. This will be especially helpful if you’re paying multiple recurring bills, such as your rent or mortgage, utilities, car payments, and other monthly expenses.
Don’t Maximize Your Credit Card
Reaching your credit card’s maximum, also called your credit utilization ratio, can significantly hurt your credit score. Credit experts recommend keeping your credit utilization below 30 percent of your total revolving credit.
You should also avoid accumulating balances on other cards when you’re close to or maxing out your card. Instead, you can work on addressing any areas of unnecessary spending and try to pay off your credit card balances in full each month.
If you’re struggling to keep up with payments, consider a debt repayment plan such as the snowball or debt avalanche method. This approach focuses on paying off the credit card with the highest interest rate first, saving you money on your interest expenses over time. However, you should always consult your budget before deciding how much you can pay toward your monthly balance.
Keep Your Debts Under 30 Percent of Your Available Credit
One of the best practices for building credit is to keep your credit card balances below 30 percent of your total available credit. This ratio is a significant factor in credit scoring and can impact your ability to get a mortgage, car loan, or even an apartment.
Credit utilization is calculated by dividing up your balances by your total credit limits on revolving accounts like credit cards. This ratio is a crucial metric for most credit reporting agencies, and it’s essential to keep it low. Try to make multiple payments throughout the billing cycle to help reduce your balances before they are reported to the credit bureaus. This may mean paying more than once a month or getting a secured credit card with lower credit limits in exchange for a security deposit. Alternatively, you can become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. This can also increase your credit limit while helping you build a positive payment history.
Be Consistent With Your Payments
One of the most critical factors in your credit score is how often you pay off debt. It’s best to create a plan for paying off your debt and stick to it every month. If you can, you can pay off your balance more frequently, which will help you avoid interest and become debt-free faster.
Another way to build credit fast is by getting a secured credit card, which allows you to establish a credit history with a refundable security deposit. This type of card can also help you manage your credit utilization, as its credit limits are typically low.
Suppose you need more of a credit history to qualify for a card. In that case, you can still build credit through other methods like becoming an authorized user on someone else’s account or asking landlords and utility companies to report your on-time payments. However, those options can take longer and are more complicated if you need the right credit score.