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If you’re like most people, you likely think that in order to raise your credit score, you need a credit card. And while that’s true for some people, it’s not the only way. In fact, there are a number of things you can do without a credit card that will help improve your credit score. Here are 12 tips on how to raise your credit score without a credit card that actually works:
1. Get a copy of your credit report
Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can get 1 report free annually from those agencies. Review your report for errors and dispute any mistakes you find.
2. Pay your bills on time
One of the biggest factors affecting your credit score is how often you pay your bills on time. Make sure you pay all of your bills on time, every month. Set up autopay or reminder notifications to make sure you don’t miss a payment.
3. Keep your credit utilization low
Your credit utilization ratio is another factor that contributes to your credit score. This is the percentage of available credit that you are currently using. Ideally, you should keep your credit utilization below 30%. So, if you have a credit limit of $10,000 on one card, you should not charge more than $3,000 to that card at any given time. This is one of the major factors in maintaining your credit score in excellent shape.
4. Don’t open too many new accounts at once
Every time you open a new credit account, your credit score takes a small hit. This is because new accounts indicate that you may be in financial trouble and are looking for ways to borrow more money. So, if you’re planning on opening a new credit card or loan in the near future, try to wait until after you’ve applied for your mortgage. This will help minimize the impact that those new accounts have on your credit score.
5. Keep an eye on your credit report
It’s very important to keep an eye on your credit report throughout the mortgage application process. This way, you can ensure that there are no errors on your report that could damage your credit score. You can get a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.
6. Submit an application for a secured credit card
Because cardholders must provide a cash deposit in advance, secured credit cards have lower approval thresholds than unsecured credit cards. This deposit usually equals your available credit, thus a $300 deposit will get you $300 in credit, $600 will get you $600, and so on. Secured cards allow you to make purchases and payments, and some even offer cash back or other incentives. Some credit card providers offer credit limit increases after a certain number of on-time payments.
7. Apply for a credit-builder loan
When you apply for a credit builder loan, the full money — usually between $300 and $1,000 — is deposited into a safe account. You can’t get the money right soon, unlike a typical loan. Instead, you make a regular monthly payment until the loan is paid off in full, and then you receive the full amount back. Because you’re making regular payments but not spending extra money, credit builder loans are a wonderful approach to establishing credit. To assist you to improve your credit score, all payments are recorded to the major credit bureaus.
8. Consider applying for a personal loan
If you make on-time payments and repay the loan in full as soon as possible, personal loans can help you develop credit. While the APRs on these loans are often higher than credit builder loans (particularly if you have a limited credit history or have previously defaulted on loans), they can help you set up a strong credit foundation.
9. Become an authorized user
Many credit card providers allow consumers to add additional authorized users to their accounts. You’ll get a real card and access to the main card holder’s line of credit as an authorized user, and you won’t have to worry about a credit check. This allows you to make purchases and have your overall card activity reported to credit bureaus without having to apply for a new card. It’s worth remembering, though, that if the primary cardholder defaults on payments or exceeds the credit limit, your credit will be affected as well.
10. Think about taking out a car loan
When you pay your car loan on time, it helps you build credit. If you pay cash, you won’t get this benefit, so if you need a car and want to develop credit, seek for a low-to-medium APR with affordable monthly payments.
11. Repay a previous loan
If you pay on time and don’t default on your existing loans, such as school loans, you can boost your credit rating.
12. Report alternate payments
Student debts, vehicle loans, and personal loans are merely the top of the credit iceberg, according to many creditors. As a result, they’re generally prepared to take into account alternative payment information in order to help you improve your credit score.
While credit cards are very important in building and improving your credit score, it is definitely not the only way to build it. You can improve your credit rating by making on-time payments, monitoring your debt-to-credit ratio, and considering options such as taking out a credit-builder or personal loan, reporting alternative credit data, or applying for a secured credit option.
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