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How to Establish Credit
There are a number of ways to establish credit. If you have a steady income and have lived in the same area for at least a year, try one of these approaches:
Apply for credit with a local business, such as a department store or a local bank or credit union. These local merchants may have lower credit standards than larger lenders.
Apply for credit with an oil company or local department store.
Take out a small loan from a local bank or credit union-even if you have no immediate need for the money. Make payments on time and consider the interest expense an investment in establishing a good credit history.
Take advantage of secured lines of credit offered by some lenders. By depositing a specific amount into a special account, you receive a credit card with a limit that equals your deposit. (For example, if you deposit $1,000, your credit limit will be $1,000.)
Before you apply for credit, make sure the creditor or lender reports credit history information to one of the credit bureaus so you can build your credit history.
Pay Your Bills on Time
Although creditors have different criteria for granting credit, there are a number of actions which most creditors rank as indicative of a poor credit risk, including:
Frequent late payments
Accounts turned over to a collection agency
Paying your bills on time is the best way to maintain a good credit rating and be considered a good credit risk. However, there are a number of legitimate circumstances which can cause you to become behind in your payments, such as illness, injury, or the loss of your job.
Talk to Your Creditors
If you begin to fall behind in your payments, contact your creditors immediately. Most are willing to work out an alternative payment schedule with you if you expect to repay your loan or balance within a reasonable period of time.
Creditors and lenders want to collect their money at the least possible cost. By working with you before the situation becomes critical, they can save time and money on collection efforts, and they know up front when to expect payment.
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