It doesn’t take long to build credit, at least in the sense of building enough credit history for a credit score to be generated. The newest credit scores can produce a rating for anyone with a loan or line of credit. That includes the VantageScore 3.0 credit scores you can get for free from WalletHub. And since creditors report account information to the major credit bureaus on a monthly basis, you can build a credit score in as little as a month.
With that being said, building a consistently excellent credit score is a multi-year process. And there are no shortcuts. But there are some steps that you can take to ensure credit building doesn’t take any longer than it has to.
Here are the fastest ways to build credit and begin enjoying the spoils of a good or excellent score:
1. Become an Authorized User
Asking a financially responsible family member to make you an authorized user on their credit card account is a great way to build credit when you’re too young to qualify for your own account. And it can help everyone else supercharge their current credit-building efforts.
Basically, you’ll be piggybacking on that person’s established credit standing. Their spending limit will inflate your available credit. And their on-time payments will add positive information to your credit reports on a monthly basis, as long as those payments are on time.
Plus, authorized users aren’t responsible for unpaid bills or any misuse of the account. And you can easily get negative records about an account you are/were an authorized user on removed from your credit report by asking the credit bureau to do so.
2. Get Your Own Credit Card ASAP
Credit cards are the best credit-building tools available to us. They report account activity to the major credit bureaus on a monthly basis, which allows cardholders to build a track record of responsibility. And they don’t require you to incur any debt or pay a fee.
All you have to do to build credit with a credit card is pay your bill on time each month and maintain reasonable credit utilization. You don’t even have to make purchases to build credit with a credit card, if you don’t trust yourself not to overspend. Simply having an open credit card with no balance will result in credit-score improvement. Just bear in mind that the issuer could close your account after a prolonged period of inactivity. And that could hurt your credit standing if it’s the oldest account on your credit report.
So even if you have to place a refundable security deposit on a secured card, it’s essential to get yourself some plastic as soon as possible. The only time you should think twice about doing so is if you plan on applying for a mortgage or auto loan in the next three months. Opening a new credit card causes your credit score to dip a bit temporarily, which could cost you if timed poorly.
3. Ask for a Higher Spending Limit
A higher credit limit can improve your credit utilization ratio and thus your credit score. You just need to make sure you don’t spend more because of it. You should also be aware that most lenders will not increase your limit until you’ve made at least six consecutive on-time payments.
In addition, your creditor may have to re-check your credit to evaluate your request for a higher limit. And that may result in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which could ding your score a few points.
Not-So-Fast Credit Building Tips
Credit improvement is like a science experiment or marathon training. The best results are the product of a well-executed plan, careful monitoring and purposeful adjustments. But instead of beakers and stopwatches, the tools of the trade are your budget, monthly credit-card statements, credit report and credit score.
Keeping tabs on this information will help you stay on task and avoid wasting time. And you can easily track your credit on WalletHub, the best personal finance website that gives you helpful tips to improve your finances as well free credit scores and reports that are updated on a daily basis.
As you sprint toward Top WalletFitness®, make sure not to get so caught up in short-term gains that you loose sight of the bigger picture. Your goal should be to not only get excellent credit but keep it. And taking the following tips to heart will help.
- Be Patient – The length of your credit history accounts for about 15% of your overall credit score. That’s significant, but it shouldn’t force you to play the waiting game. It’s possible to build a good or excellent credit score in a matter of months, after all. You just have to continue borrowing responsibly to keep it up.So focus on the other 85%. If you concentrate on what you can control, time will take care of itself.
- Add to Your Credit Mix – The types of credit that you’ve used — credit cards, auto loans and mortgages, for example — account for at least 10% of your credit score. And it usually takes young people a while to score highly in this regard, considering that the median American doesn’t get a mortgage until age 33.But that’s all right. It’s certainly possible to build excellent credit before buying a house or a car. And the goal is to prove yourself capable of borrowing responsibly with different types of financial products, not to make mistakes in haste.
Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that not everyone is building credit from scratch. If you’re working your way back from damaged credit, make sure to check out WalletHub’s tips on how to rebuild your credit and the steps you can take to speed things up.
For more great advice, check out WalletHub’s overall credit-improvement tips.
Ask the Experts: Making Good Credit Time
For more insight into the credit-building timeline and what you can do to speed it up, we asked a panel of personal finance experts to share their thoughts on the following questions. See who they are and what they had to say, below.
- Are there any legitimate ways to speed up the credit-building process?
- Does good credit only come to those who wait?
- What is the biggest mistake that people make when trying to build credit fast?