Searches for New Credit
Credit cards appear on your credit report because, unlike your debit card account, they are tied a revolving line of credit. Each time you swipe, you are essentially spending your issuer’s money — and repaying them later, ideally, at the end of the month when your balance is due.
How to Get a Credit Card
But you’re not necessarily out of luck if you’ve simply been swiping a debit card for the last few years. There are credit cards designed specifically for someone looking to build or fix their credit. A secured credit card, for instance, requires users to put down a deposit (typically $200 to $300) that acts as their credit line. It allows people to get used to managing revolving credit before they move to a traditional card with a potentially higher credit limit.
Alternately, you could look into student credit cards. Or see if a parent or guardian might add you to their existing credit card account as an authorized user. (Just be sure to ask the issuer if they’ll report your authorized activity the three major credit report agencies. Not all do.)
Once you have a payment method in hand, you can build a good credit score by making all your payments and keeping card balances low. The general rule of thumb is to keep the amount of debt you owe below at least 30% and ideally 10% of a card’s available limit.
You could also potentially improve your credit scores by checking your credit reports for errors, addressing the specific issues that are dragging your scores down and adding new credit lines organically over time. You can check your progress by viewing your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.
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Note: It's important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
Jeanine is an editor and reporter at Credit.com. Prior to joining us, Jeanine's work was featured by TheStreet, Newsweek, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, MSN, Fox Business, Forbes, CNBC and various other online publications. Follow her at @JeanineSko More by Jeanine Skowronski