How to Build Credit Fast When You Have No Credit History

how to build credit fast

How to Build Credit Fast With No Credit History

Are you getting rejected applications by creditors due to your poor credit score? Read this article to find out how to build credit fast when you have zero credit history.

Getting credit is tricky business. Without a credit history, it can be extremely difficult to obtain a loan, a credit card, or sometimes even an apartment.

But how are you supposed to show that your responsible for making repayments if no one is willing to give you the credit in the first place?

A bit of a catch-22, isn’t it?

man with empty pockets

Definitely. But don’t worry, this seemingly endless loop does have an escape route.

There are ways to build credit with no credit history. And, you can do it fairly quickly too.

Interested in knowing what those ways are?

Get a Secured Credit Card

If you’re wondering how to build credit fast, getting a secured credit card is a great place to start.

What’s so great about a secured credit card?

Almost anyone can obtain them. The only catch, you must put down a security deposit- usually around $300 to $500- to get approved.

Usually, the deposit amount is the same as your credit limit. So, it’s definitely much less than a regular credit card limit, but you gotta start somewhere.

Other than that, this card operates just like a normal credit card. You’ll use it to make purchases, you’ll make payments on or before the due date (hopefully), and you’ll incur interest should you not pay your balance in full.

But don’t confuse these cards with debit cards- they are quite different. With a debit card, the payment is made upon the transaction.

And, most importantly, you can’t build credit with a debit card. Unlike secured credit cards, their usage does not get reported to credit bureaus.

Secured credit cards are only meant to be temporary. They’re a great first step in building credit fast. Just make sure to choose one with a low annual fee and make sure the creditor reports the card to all three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Get a Student Credit Card

If you are still a student, getting a student credit is another option if you’re wondering how to build credit fast.

student presenting credit card for purchase

Much like a secured credit card, student credit cards are very easy to obtain.

However, they are also temporary solutions. They tend to have lower credit limits and higher acceptance rates.

They can be a good alternative to a secured credit card though, as many of them with promotional offers and rewards. And every college student knows how much saving a few dollars can mean!

Get a Retail Credit Card

If you’re not a student but would still like some perks with your card, consider applying for a retail card at one of your favorite stores (maybe not your absolute favorite one though, you don’t want to go swipe happy!).

However, while they do offer some perks, you need to be very careful with retail credit cards.

Their interest rates are often extremely high and the credit limit very low.

Try to keep the maximum you spend on these cards at 30 percent of the limit. That way, you never have to worry about being stuck in a situation where you can’t pay it off and end up damaging your credit score.

Only Charge What You Can Pay Off

Whether you go with a student card, retail card, or a secured one, the most important thing is to make sure you pay back any money you charge.

sign indicating give and take

Paying back charges in full and on time is exactly how you build credit. It’s your way of proving to creditors and lenders that you are capable of responsibly managing debt.

If you are worried about missing payments, unfortunately, opening a credit card and sitting on it is not an option. You need to be spending and paying off in order to build your credit.

That’s why it’s super important to only make purchases you know you can pay off in full and on time. Try to stick to using it for inexpensive purchases, such as gasoline, movie tickets, or meals out.

Also, we can’t stress enough that you need to make the payment on time. Even one missed payment can knock your credit score down by 100 points. This could be the difference between getting a loan approved or not.

But, after making consistent payments, don’t close the credit card! the length of time you’ve had your credit card open also plays a part in your credit score. Close the account and your credit will undoubtedly drop.

Don’t Apply for Numerous Accounts

Do all of these credit card options sound superb to you?

Unfortunately, applying for multiple credit cards isn’t a good idea, even if you know you can juggle a few and pay off all of them.

This is because every time you apply for a credit card, your credit score takes a small hit.

This is only going to set you two steps back. Instead, put your energy into building up excellent credit on one card.

Get a Cosigner

Don’t like the idea of the above three options, and just want to skip right to getting an unsecured card?

cosigner signing document

Well, if you have someone willing to cosign for you (cough, Mom, Dad, cough) then you have the option of getting an unsecured card right away.

However, make sure this person knows they are on the chopping blocks for any payments you miss.

Become an Authorized User on Someone Else’s Card

Another way to employ some help with building your credit score is to become an authorized user on someone else’s account.

This way, you’ll be able to build history without being legally obligated to make payments.

However, the primary holder (most likely a parent or significant other) will probably expect you to pay your share, so make sure you work out an agreement with them beforehand.

How to Build Credit Fast: Conclusion

With these tips on how to build credit fast, you should have an awesome score in no time.

After about 6 months or so into the credit building game, you’ll want to check your progress by viewing your credit report and score.

This will help you assess how you’re doing and how much more progress you need to make before applying for a big loan or mortgage. 

Got questions about how to build your credit fast? Drop us a comment below.

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12 Comments

  1. Hello Patrick,

    I have a daughter, who was fortunate enough not to have any student loans and will be graduating University in a few years. She does not have credit cards or any debit. How could she build her credit now so that she will be able to buy a car or get a credit card for when she graduates? Thanks so much. Helen

    • Thanks for commenting on the post. Your question is great as many parents of graduating students are trying to help their kids start out on the right foot when it comes to establishing credit. I’m pleased to hear that your daughter won’t have any student debt after she graduates.

      If your daughter can manage to save a little bit ($200-$300) she can start out with a secured credit card account. There is not much availability as spending can’t exceed the amount put up, but its a great way for a young person to establish their credit early on.

      Another way is to add her as an authorized user on one of your accounts. If you trust her spending habits and you believe she will pay her portion of the activity each month, then put her on your account. All of her activity will be reported to the credit agencies and will be applied toward her credit and credit score.

      I hoped this helped out. Best of luck.

      Patrick

  2. These are really fantastic tips for anyone looking to build their credit. Only charge what you can pay for is absolutely great advice. Some people get carried away with a credit card and it’s only when they see their bill, the reality of the situation hits them that they have to repay the money.

    Getting a Secured Credit Card seems like a great way to deal with that problem, since you know your limit. I’d recommend these tips to anyone.

    • Vanessa – I’m glad you enjoyed the post. You are absolutely correct in pointing out that people get carried away with credit and when it gets completely out of control it can be very difficult to recover from.

      Usually a secured credit card is good for people who are just starting out establishing their credit or for folks that have been in trouble in the past and need to reestablish their credit.

      If you can save a little bit, say $300 – $500 and put it towards a secured account, then pay back what you charge each month, it will definitely improve your credit standing.

      Patrick

      Credit Squared

  3. Great article…

    Your advice was clear and to the point.

    The advice of only charging what you can pay off is really great. I know many people that have run into a challenge with that.

    Getting a Co-signer is a good idea as well.

    If you do all those things the way you have described how many points will our credit move in 6 months?

    • Robert – Yes if you want to build a good credit score paying off what you owe each month will set you on a positive path towards that goal.

      Consumers should always keep in mind that spending up to the credit limit is not a good idea, as it will impact a credit score negatively.

      Try to stay within a balance that can be paid each month, and you should be good to go with building a solid credit score.

      For those just starting out getting a cosigner or getting someone to add you to an existing credit account can really help get you started.

      As long as you make your payments all of the activity applies to your credit history. The trick is to find someone that will let you use their account or cosign for you.

      Patrick

      Credit Squared

  4. What a great write-up. My credit used to be in the pits after college as I was avoiding my student loans. I realized how important good credit was when I needed my Dad to co-sign on a 10 year old used car because I didn’t have the clout yet. Things have changed since then but I still have some room for improvement. I will have to read and reread this to internalize the concepts. Thanks for this!

    • Hi Nik – From your comments it appears you are doing well and have built up some credit history. Everyone needs to start out somewhere. Your dad signing a used car note, seemed to help you along the way.

      When just starting out we all need a helping hand, so in this post https://creditsquared.com/how-to-build-credit-fast I outlined several strategies on how to build your credit fast.

      Much of the time it takes having a co-signer or saving a little in order to get a secured credit card. If you have a friend or relative that trusts you, asking them to put you on their account could be a real advantage.

      In the end, it will always depend on you to pay your bills on time, to not carry large balances and to use your sources of credit wisely.

      Building credit and establishing a good credit score takes time. Getting a little help never hurts and always comes in handy when your starting out.

      Patrick

      Credit Squared

  5. This is a great post you hit the nail on the head with all of your points. I wish I had known about these tips when I was growing up, I had to learn the credit lesson the hard way as I know a lot of people end up doing. I’m glad that you are teaching people how to develop good credit and also maintain it because it sure helps you to leverage your finances when you need it.

    • Bubba – Absolutely! Developing and building good credit will go a long way in helping leverage your finances over the long term.

      People make mistakes, but if they are disciplined enough and maybe get some help from a relative or friend they can start on the path to building their credit.

      Some of the best ways to build credit is to get a secured credit card, ask a friend or relative to add them to their card account or find a cosigner.

      Just make sure you can make the payments and you will be well on your way to building a solid credit history.

      Patrick

      Credit Squared

  6. I think I’m going to go with the student credit card. Yes it may have a low credit limit but as far as the funds can be approved and sent to my account fast, then it’s worth the try.

    Thanks a lot for helping me see how many options there are to build a credit score fast. This makes me see that there is a lot of help out there to things we want but we miss out on the opportunity out of lack of knowledge.

    Don’t you think?

    • Hi Dave – Thanks for commenting. Good choice on the student credit card.  They have some extra perks that come along with them and they also help you build your credit fast.   I you have no credit history they are a good starting point until your ready to move up to the next level.  

      There is help out there if you need it.  Here at Credit Squared we are here to lend a hand with your credit questions.

      If you need additional help with any question you have, please leave a comment or send an email to Patrick@creditsquared.com

      Patrick   

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