Who Can Help Me Build My Credit?

Who Can Help Me Build My Credit? article image.

Dear Experian,

What companies do you recommend for building credit?


Dear SIP,

You don't need to hire a company to help you build credit. There are lots of ways to begin building your credit history, and you can do them yourself, for free.

The first step we recommend is to get copies of your credit reports so you can see what's being reported. You can request your free Experian credit report.

You also should consider ordering your FICO score for free from Experian. Getting your credit score is key because with it you will receive a list of the top factors negatively impacting your credit scores, known as risk factors. When you work on addressing your risk factors, you'll be working toward improving your credit scores.

How to Start Building Credit

If you are just starting out and establishing credit for the first time, you may have what's called a "thin file." A thin credit file is generally defined as one with five or fewer accounts. Some tips for establishing credit when you have a thin file:

  • Apply for a credit card. If you don't already have one, it's a good idea to apply for and start using a credit card. Credit cards provide lenders with a lot of insight into how you manage debt because they allow you the freedom to decide how much to charge and how much to repay each month. The key is not to overspend or make late payments. Ideally, you should pay your balance in full each month.
  • Open a secured credit card. If you have a thin file, you may not be able to qualify for a traditional credit card on your own. If that's the case, consider opening a secured card. They are easier to qualify for because you put down a deposit when you open the account, so there's less risk to the lender. Ask the issuer whether it reports secured card accounts to the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). Even if they don't, the bank may eventually convert the account to a traditional unsecured credit card if you make all payments on time.
  • Ask a family member to cosign. If you are lucky enough to have a family member with great credit who is willing to cosign for a credit card or installment loan with you, this can be a great way to begin establishing credit in your name. Keep in mind that any missed payments will also go on your cosigner's credit report, hurting their credit scores as well as yours.
  • Ask someone to add you as an authorized user. Another option is to become an authorized user on a friend or family member's account. As an authorized user, you can use the card to make purchases, but you are not responsible for making payments. If the lender reports authorized-user accounts to the credit reporting companies, being added to the account can help you begin building credit.
  • Sign up to have your utility and cellphone payments reported. Experian now has a free service called Experian Boost®ø. This service allows you to have your on-time monthly utility, cellphone and other telecom payments added to your credit report. The enrollment process is fast, easy and secure. It can be especially beneficial to those with thin credit files or those with credit scores below 680. You can learn more about Experian Boost here.

Once you begin building credit, be sure to make all your payments on time, keep credit card balances low and don't apply for too many credit products in a short period of time. Managing your credit this way can help you establish credit and improve credit scores to help you reach your financial goals.

Thanks for asking,
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist

This question came from a recent Periscope session we hosted.

How Good Is Your Credit Score?

300 credit score301 credit score302 credit score303 credit score304 credit score305 credit score306 credit score307 credit score308 credit score309 credit score310 credit score311 credit score312 credit score313 credit score314 credit score315 credit score316 credit score317 credit score318 credit score319 credit score320 credit score321 credit score322 credit score323 credit score324 credit score325 credit score326 credit score327 credit score328 credit score329 credit score330 credit score331 credit score332 credit score333 credit score334 credit score335 credit score336 credit score337 credit score338 credit score339 credit score340 credit score341 credit score342 credit score343 credit score344 credit score345 credit score346 credit score347 credit score348 credit score349 credit score350 credit score351 credit score352 credit score353 credit score354 credit score355 credit score356 credit score357 credit score358 credit score359 credit score360 credit score361 credit score362 credit score363 credit score364 credit score365 credit score366 credit score367 credit score368 credit score369 credit score370 credit score371 credit score372 credit score373 credit score374 credit score375 credit score376 credit score377 credit score378 credit score379 credit score380 credit score381 credit score382 credit score383 credit score384 credit score385 credit score386 credit score387 credit score388 credit score389 credit score390 credit score391 credit score392 credit score393 credit score394 credit score395 credit score396 credit score397 credit score398 credit score399 credit score400 credit score401 credit score402 credit score403 credit score404 credit score405 credit score406 credit score407 credit score408 credit score409 credit score410 credit score411 credit score412 credit score413 credit score414 credit score415 credit score416 credit score417 credit score418 credit score419 credit score420 credit score421 credit score422 credit score423 credit score424 credit score425 credit score426 credit score427 credit score428 credit score429 credit score430 credit score431 credit score432 credit score433 credit score434 credit score435 credit score436 credit score437 credit score438 credit score439 credit score440 credit score441 credit score442 credit score443 credit score444 credit score445 credit score446 credit score447 credit score448 credit score449 credit score450 credit score451 credit score452 credit score453 credit score454 credit score455 credit score456 credit score457 credit score458 credit score459 credit score460 credit score461 credit score462 credit score463 credit score464 credit score465 credit score466 credit score467 credit score468 credit score469 credit score470 credit score471 credit score472 credit score473 credit score474 credit score475 credit score476 credit score477 credit score478 credit score479 credit score480 credit score481 credit score482 credit score483 credit score484 credit score485 credit score486 credit score487 credit score488 credit score489 credit score490 credit score491 credit score492 credit score493 credit score494 credit score495 credit score496 credit score497 credit score498 credit score499 credit score500 credit score501 credit score502 credit score503 credit score504 credit score505 credit score506 credit score507 credit score508 credit score509 credit score510 credit score511 credit score512 credit score513 credit score514 credit score515 credit score516 credit score517 credit score518 credit score519 credit score520 credit score521 credit score522 credit score523 credit score524 credit score525 credit score526 credit score527 credit score528 credit score529 credit score530 credit score531 credit score532 credit score533 credit score534 credit score535 credit score536 credit score537 credit score538 credit score539 credit score540 credit score541 credit score542 credit score543 credit score544 credit score545 credit score546 credit score547 credit score548 credit score549 credit score550 credit score551 credit score552 credit score553 credit score554 credit score555 credit score556 credit score557 credit score558 credit score559 credit score560 credit score561 credit score562 credit score563 credit score564 credit score565 credit score566 credit score567 credit score568 credit score569 credit score570 credit score571 credit score572 credit score573 credit score574 credit score575 credit score576 credit score577 credit score578 credit score579 credit score