Credit scores play a significant role in the lives of millions of adults across the globe. A strong credit history can help people secure more borrower-friendly terms on home and auto loans, potentially saving them thousands of dollars.
Credit scores are not typically on the minds of young adults who are years away from purchasing their first homes. However, young adulthood is a great time to begin building a strong credit history. By laying a strong foundation now, young adults can reap significant rewards when they try to finance major purchases, such as cars and homes, down the road.
• Open a credit account. It’s important to begin building credit histories once you’re eligible, as young people with no credit histories may find it hard to get loans or even apartments of their own. Cosigners can help, but loans secured with cosigners won’t do much to improve young people’s credit scores. Borrowers want loan applicants who have shown they can pay their own bills, and length of credit history is one of many variables that are used to determine borrowers’ credit scores. A long history that documents a young person’s track record of paying bills on time is to his or her advantage. Many credit card companies issue credit to applicants as young as 18, so young people should not hesitate to begin exploring their options. The online financial resource NerdWallet notes that young people with no credit history may need to apply for secured credit cards. Unlike more traditional cards, secured cards are backed by upfront cash deposits. However, secured cardholders must still make payments on time and will still incur interest charges if they don’t. These cards can be a great way for young people to begin showing lenders their creditworthiness.
• Apply for an installment loan. Installment loans are another great way for young people to build their credit histories. According to the credit reporting agency Experian, auto loans are among the easiest types of loans to obtain. Young borrowers may need cosigners, though some lenders may not require that. Young people who want to buy new vehicles can avoid leaning on their parents to facilitate their purchases and instead take out an auto loan that requires monthly payments. A track record of making installment loan payments on time and in full is a great way for young people to prove their creditworthiness and improve their credit scores.
• Ask your landlord to help. Young people who rent and pay their rent on time might finally be able to benefit from that. In the past, the only way rent payments were included on credit reports was if tenants were delinquent with their rent payments and subject to lawsuits or were reported to collection agencies. However, Experian recently started to include positive rental payment information in their credit reports. Young people with histories of making rent payments on time can ask their landlords to report their positive payment histories to the credit bureaus.
Strong credit histories can benefit adults from all walks of life. It’s never too early for young adults to begin building their financial reputations.