Establishing credit before going to college



Dear Experian,

I am a 19 year old college student trying to establish credit early, and it would be helpful throughout college to have a low limit credit card just in case. Also, I am trying to get a car loan, and I know I need to use credit to gain credit. I applied for a credit card through my bank and was declined. I also applied for a student credit card and was declined again. How am I supposed to establish a credit history if I can’t get approved for anything? My parents are just starting to rebuild their credit themselves. Is there any way that I can establish credit without having to have somebody cosign for me?



Dear FCS,

In the past, it was relatively easy for a college student to obtain a credit card. However, federal legislation has made the requirements for extending credit to students under 21 much more stringent.

Now, anyone under the age of 21 must either have a cosigner, or be able to demonstrate that they have an independent means of paying back any credit that is extended, such as an adequate source of income.

If you do not have a friend or family member who is willing or able to cosign for you, consider requesting a secured credit card through your bank or credit union. A secured account is typically linked to a savings account, and your credit limit is a percentage of your savings account balance.

If the financial institution reports the account to the credit reporting companies, the card will appear on your credit reports and will help you build a credit history. Make every payment on time to build a positive credit history. In some cases the lender may not report a secured credit card account. However, they often will convert the account to a regular, unsecured credit card after you have used it responsibly for a period of time. Once converted the account will be reported and will help you build a credit history.

Thanks for asking.

The “Ask Experian” team

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