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The Ultimate Guide to Building Your Credit

“How do I build my credit score?” is a question that we get asked all too often. Whether you’re looking to build credit for the first time, build your credit quickly, or fix your credit, there are a number of steps that you can take to get your score where it needs to be for the best financing terms.

NEW TO BUILDING CREDIT?

Build Your Credit

ADD A CREDIT MIX

Instead of applying for five secured credit cards, instead try to create a "credit mix" by applying for different types of credit. For example, have a car loan, home loan and credit card.

Build Your Credit

APPLY FOR A SECURED CREDIT CARD

If you have no credit score or credit history, you’re able to put down a cash deposit to get a line of credit started. In most cases, the amount that you put down for your cash deposit is equal to the card’s limit. After you close the account, you’ll get the deposit back.

Build Your Credit

APPLY FOR A CREDIT-BUILDER LOAN

When you take out a credit-builder loan, the money you borrow is deposited in a savings account where you cannot access until you have fully repaid the loan. Self-Lender is a low-cost way to get a credit-builder loan.

Build Your Credit

GET A CO-SIGNER

If you don’t have any credit, you often will have the ability to add a co-signer to an account in order to be approved.

Build Your Credit

BECOME AN AUTHORIZED USER

Some banks allow your family to add you as an authorized user on an account – you’ll still be building credit, but if the account becomes delinquent, you won’t be on the hook for the amount.

Build Your Credit

GET CREDIT FOR YOUR RENT

There are several rent-reporting services that take your rent bill and your payment history and report it to credit bureaus.

WANT TO MAINTAIN YOUR EXISTING CREDIT SCORE?

First things first: Make sure your existing credit score is accurate. Each of us has three credit reports – one from each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – and approximately one out of five consumers has errors on at least one of them. You’re entitled to one free copy from each of those bureaus every year. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to access these reports.

Build Your Credit

MAKE ON-TIME PAYMENTS

This doesn’t mean just your credit cards – also keep track of your car payments, utility bills and medical bills. If you don’t pay your bills, they will be sold to a collection agency, which will deduct points from your credit score. Sign up for autopay when you can, or set payment reminders for yourself.

Build Your Credit

KEEP ACCOUNTS OPEN

Unless there’s an annual fee on your unused cards, keep them open to show that you have a long length of credit history.

Build Your Credit

LIMIT YOUR APPLICATIONS FOR CREDIT

Just because you get a lot of credit card offers in the mail, doesn't mean you should apply for all of them at once. Apply for credit responsibly: when it makes financial sense, or when you're needing to build your credit.

HOW DO I CHECK MY CREDIT SCORE?

  • Visit CreditKarma.com for a free copy of your soft credit score.
  • Check with your credit card company. Often times they offer you a score once yearly.
  • Buy a copy of your score by visiting a credit reporting agency directly. Go to www.myfico.com for more information.
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Skills Fund is on a mission to provide all students with a transformative, outcomes-based education. Your career is important, and so is your financing. We want students to be knowledgeable about their credit health - because just as a bootcamp is the bridge to a new career, your credit score is the bridge to justified and fair financing.

We're committed to promoting educational access to as many students as possible. As long as you meet our basic underwriting criteria, you will most likely qualify for a Skills Fund loan. Our loan terms are fixed and transparent. You're able to see your monthly rate before even applying. To learn more about the value of a Skills Fund partnership, click here.