While it is certainly possible to live in the United States without needing credit, the reality is that most people will need access to it at some point. Whether it’s renting an apartment or buying a new vehicle, credit is a big part of the American economy and knowing how to build and maintain credit is an important skill.
Building credit is critical to receiving the best credit offers. With good credit, you may qualify for more types of credit and receive lower interest rates than people with lesser credit. Your credit can even impact whether you get jobs in certain industries.
If building credit is one of your financial goals, review this comprehensive guide on how to build credit and potentially boost your credit score.
How to Build Credit: Top 10 Most Effective Ways
Everyone’s credit profile is unique which means that building credit is going to be a little bit different for each person. However, there are some “tried and true” methods for improving your credit score.
If you want to know how to build credit, Experian highlights some of the most effective ways to boost your score:
- Make all of your monthly payments on time by setting up autopay.
- Get a personal loan to consolidate your debt and establish a payment history.
- Apply for a secured credit card and keep a very low balance.
- Pay down credit card balances that exceed 30% of your credit limit.
- Sign up for a credit monitoring service that checks your credit score every month.
- Add principal payments to outstanding loan balances to lower your total balance.
- Keep your credit card accounts open after you pay them off and don’t use them.
- Review your credit report for any errors that could hurt your score and dispute them.
- Find someone to cosign for you if you don’t have any credit yet.
- Negotiate with creditors on collections accounts to pay them off.
Building credit requires two things: consistency and timeliness. That means you need to consistently make your payments when they are due. You also need to keep your credit inquiries to a minimum and refrain from opening too many new accounts.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Build Credit
Even for financial experts, building credit can feel overwhelming. Review some of the most commonly asked questions about how to build credit before you put together a plan.
What Is Good Credit?
Different lenders consider different scores to be “good credit.” In general, though, many lenders rely on FICO scores to make their decisions. Experian lists a good FICO score as anything over 670. This information is validated by Equifax, another leading credit bureau.
A good VantageScore, on the other hand, is anything over 661. Even though this seems like a subtle difference, a few points can make a significant impact on your interest rates.
Can You Build Credit Without a Credit Card?
While a secured credit card is a good option for building credit, it can be hard to get a credit card if you have limited or lesser credit. It also might not be the best option for you.
Personal loans are another option for building credit. Instead of a variable monthly payment, you’ll have a fixed payment that you can consistently budget for.
How Long Does It Take to Build Credit?
Unfortunately, there is no good answer to this. Your credit score is comprised of several factors, including how long you’ve been using credit and how long certain accounts have been open.
This means the time it takes to build credit varies from person to person. Some changes might result in changes within a couple of months, where other changes might take over a year to potentially boost your score. Experian indicates that it will take at least three to six months to see changes.
The Most Practical Benefits of Building Credit
Aside from the old wisdom, “you need credit to get credit,” building credit offers multiple benefits that go beyond just being approved for other credit offers. Credit permeates multiple aspects of the American financial system.
The most practical benefits of building credit include:
- Lower interest rates: Whether you’re applying for a credit card, mortgage, or personal loan, good credit will usually result in lower interest rates.
- Longer loan terms: Certain lenders might have restrictions on their loan terms that might loosen as your credit score improves.
- Higher approval limits: Your credit and income are important components of determining your approval limits for most credit products.
Your credit history can also impact things like your auto insurance rates and whether or not you get approved for an apartment lease. Building credit may ultimately save you money.
How to Build Credit with the Right Financial Products
If you want to start building credit now, you should put together a plan. That means you might need to apply for a personal loan so you can establish a solid payment history. If you have some debt already, you may look into a debt consolidation loan to manage some of your balances.
Once you know whether you need a personal loan or a debt consolidation loan, you’ll want to compare loan features and offers. You want the right combination of value and convenience.
Looking for a personal loan for building credit? Mariner Finance may have options to help you establish credit and pay off any outstanding debt.
†We offer personal loans from $1,000 to $25,000, with loans terms from 12 to 60 months. Minimum and maximum amounts dependent on an applicant’s state of residence and the underwriting of the loan. Loans between $1,500 and $15,000 may be funded online. Loans greater than $15,000 or less than $1,500 are funded through our branch network. Specific interest rates and fees are determined as permitted under applicable state law and depend upon loan amount, term, and the applicant’s ability to meet our credit criteria, including, but not limited to, credit history, income, debt payment obligations, and other factors such as availability of collateral. Not all rates and loan amounts are available in all states. Additional fees may apply to some loan offers; some state required and/or permitted fees may be treated as prepaid finance charges. Any such charges shall be in addition to the loan amount requested and/or approved and shall be fully disclosed to the applicant on his/her loan agreement. Not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rates or larger loan amounts, which may require a first lien on a motor vehicle not more than ten years old titled in the applicant’s name with valid insurance. Our loan by phone and online closing process requires a compatible mobile or computer device on which you can access your email and electronic documents. Not all loan types are eligible for loan by phone or online loan closing.
To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, Federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. As a result, under our customer identification program, we must ask for your name, street address, mailing address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver's license or other identifying documents.
For any stated annual percentage rate (“APR”), the APR represents the cost of credit as a yearly rate and will be determined based upon an applicant’s credit at the time of application, subject to state law limits. A range of APR’s may be applicable, subject to state law limits and individual underwriting. Not all applicants will qualify for a lower rate. APR’s are generally higher on loans not secured by a vehicle, and the lowest rates typically apply to the most creditworthy borrowers. All terms and conditions of a loan offer, including the APR, will be disclosed during the application process. As an example, with an amount financed of $5,000.00 the borrower receives $5,000.00 at an APR of 29.99% and an interest rate of 28.77% which includes a finance charge of $3,640.96. Under these terms, the borrower would make 48 monthly payments of $180.02, for a total of payments of $8,640.96. The amount financed may not be the net proceeds paid if charges other than interest are included in the loan.
*The process uses a “soft” credit inquiry to determine whether a loan offer is available, which does not impact your credit score. If you continue with the application process online and accept a loan offer, or are referred to a branch and continue your application there, we will pull your credit report and credit score again using a “hard” credit inquiry. This “hard” credit inquiry may impact your credit score.