Credit Cards aren’t the Only Way to Build Credit

Credit cards often destroy credit more than they build it. They are too easy to use and fall under the spell of the ‘minimum required payment.’ If you’re thinking of buying a home soon, you need to maximize your credit score, which in some cases means building a credit score.

Rather than relying on credit cards, try these unconventional methods.

Be an Authorized User

If you have a close family member with great credit, consider asking to be an authorized user on their account. You don’t have to use the account to get good credit. Instead, they put your name on the account, use the credit (and pay it off), while you get credit for the good habits. Before you do this, make sure the credit card company reports authorized users to credit bureaus as not all do.

Take out a CD Loan

This little known method helps consumers with no credit build credit fast. If you have money in a CD, ask your bank if they offer CD loans. Using your CD as collateral, you borrow money paying back principal and interest. They are easy to qualify for (many banks don’t check your credit), but if you apply at a bank that reports the loan to the credit bureaus, it can help build your credit history and score.

Take out a Peer-to-Peer Loan

Peer-to-peer loans are online lenders, aka peers or investors. Because they aren’t a traditional bank and are people like you and me investing in people that need help, they have more lenient guidelines. Some companies still pull credit, but many cater to those with little credit history or low credit scores. Just like any other loan, make sure the company reports the loan to the credit bureaus to ensure it helps you build credit.

Report your Rent Payments

Rent isn’t a loan, per se, but it’s a tradeline and a housing tradeline at that. Ask your landlord if he/she is willing to report the payments. Many will if you just ask. They’ll likely only report to one bureau, though, so make sure you know which one they report to. If not, you can pay a service to report your rent payments yourself.

Use Experian Boost

Experian Boost (from the credit bureau) is a free credit-boosting service. If you pay telecom bills or regular utility bills, Experian may track the payments, using them as a tradeline to boost your credit score. Check with Experian to see which utilities they’ll use, as they vary by area. The service is free and if you pay your utilities on time can be helpful.

No matter the method you choose, the bottom line is you need on-time payments and responsible use of your credit to build ‘good credit.’ Check your credit history often (you get free weekly access through April 2021) and make sure your habits are reported correctly and helping you build the strong credit history you need.