4. Check your credit report.
"It sounds basic, but a lot of people don't do this to make sure everything's accurate," says Rossman. You can go to annualcreditreport.com to find — for free on a weekly basis until April 2021 — information on your credit report with the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).
About 20 percent of credit reports have errors on them, says Rossman, "and some can be quite serious." Any mistakes should be corrected with the credit bureau through filing disputes.
5. Obtain a secured credit card.
This kind of card requires you to put down a deposit that serves as a line of credit.
"This is a starter credit card that I think is becoming increasingly popular because it's harder to get the so-called traditional or unsecured credit cards," says Rossman. "Typically, if you use it responsibly for six to 12 months, that's going to help your score. And you could probably upgrade."
6. Check out non-traditional cards.
Petal and TomoCredit both offer credit cards to people who have no credit score or little to no credit history and can't get a traditional card, but who may actually be good borrowers — such as young professionals or recent immigrants, Rossman points out.
"These companies are going to look at more than just the score," says Rossman. "When they think about approving or denying you, they're going to actually take a detailed look at your income, your expenses, your money habits. They really do cater to people who may not have a credit score at all, or may not have a good credit score."
7. Get a credit building loan.
Even if you have bad or no credit, you can usually qualify for a credit builder loan, created to help users build a good credit history.
How it works: A lender agrees to loan you a certain amount of money, but puts the money in an account. You make regular payments to the account, which are reported to the three credit bureaus, and once you pay off the amount, you have access to the money.
"Self.inc is a leading player in this space, and several credit unions offer credit builder loans," says Rossman.
Shop around for the best interest rates and associated costs before making a final decision.
Plus: "Make sure the monthly payments (really more like savings deposits to yourself) are reported to the credit bureaus," Rossman adds. "This is another way to help your score."
8. Become an authorized user on another card from a trusted user.
Another way to build your credit score and profile is to become an authorized user on another person's credit card account. You could get a card or you could go without one, and you are not responsible for payment.
When you become an authorized user, not only will you have a new account appear on your credit report, but the primary card holder's account will impact your credit scores. So make sure to become an authorized user only on an account with good or excellent history from someone you trust.
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