How Can I Get Started With Credit?

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Does qualifying for credit feel like a classic chicken or egg situation? It doesn’t have to be. With the right moves you can start building positive credit history. Whatever you do, remember: Start small and behave responsibly.

Credit card offers

If you’re lucky enough to get unsolicited credit card offers in the mail, check them over carefully. Try taking advantage of a low or no fee card offer to get started. Charge a little. Pay in full, and pay on time — every time.

Retail cards

Sometimes it’s easier to get a store card than any other form of credit. As always, charge carefully and pay on time — soon you’ll have the credit history you need to get a major credit card or a loan for something larger. 

Ask family

Some credit cards allow a parent or spouse to add an authorized user — namely you — to an existing account. If so, your loved one’s good credit behavior shows up in your credit report. Check directly with the credit card company to see if this option is available.

Secured cards or loans

Some lenders let you make a deposit, then use it as security for a credit card or loan. Yes, this approach requires you to put up your own funds — but as little as $500 could help you build valuable credit history. Just be sure that account activity is reported to the credit bureaus.

Once you’ve used credit responsibly for several months, request a credit report and maybe even check your score to see how you’re doing. It’s important to look at your credit report each year to check for mistakes, fraud or identity theft — so get in the habit.