Whether you’ve relocated from another country or want to improve your current credit rating to build a more successful future, there are a number of things you can do. Here are seven of the top steps to take in order to build more solid credit and a sound financial foundation:
1. Timely Payments
The most important factor in building or improving credit is a habit of on-time payments. Timeliness counts for a full 35 percent of your credit score, so take it seriously and cultivate this important credit-boosting habit.
2. If You Are An Immigrant
Start by knowing that your credit rating from your home country will not follow you to the U.S. This can be good or bad, as a negative credit history can be left behind; however, if you had a positive credit history, it will not factor into your rating here. Credit history simply cannot be transferred across international boundaries.
A social security number is crucial to the process of establishing credit. When you seek employment in the U.S., you will be required to have a social security number. It is mandatory if you wish to build credit in a meaningful way, such as through purchasing a house or car, or applying for credit cards or personal loans.
3. Co-Signers and Authorized User History
One of the most effective ways to improve and build credit is by signing on with others who have positive credit. A spouse, partner, friend or business associate may be good candidates to ask. Having someone with good credit co-sign with you for a credit card or other loan greatly increases your chances of getting the loan. Have them add you as an authorized user to one or more of their existing accounts. From there, with responsible use of any credit you receive, your rating will rise naturally. You might also look into companies that sell authorized user histories through products called “tradelines,” which allow you to benefit from the positive credit histories of others.
4. Secured Credit Cards
A secured credit card is an account that requires a deposit for the amount you would like as your credit limit. The card is used somewhat like a debit card, but responsible use of this type of account will be reflected as positive action on your credit report.
5. Watch Your Credit Utilization Ratio
Credit utilization refers to the amount of available credit used on a credit card at any given time. Persons striving to build positive credit should keep this ratio at less than 30 percent at all times. Make only small to moderate purchases, and pay the balance on the card every month if possible.
6. Reduce Debt
Few things will drag down your credit rating and financial health faster than debt, so strive to carry as little as possible. That said, a home mortgage, car loan, student loan or other installment debt treated responsibly is good for your credit; just make sure to make all payments on time. Excessive revolving consumer debt like credit card debt can hurt your credit score and should be paid down as efficiently as possible.
7. Use Automated Payments
Take advantage of the perks of technology by automating any loan or credit card accounts that you do acquire. You can set the payment amount to any level you wish, from just the minimum to the entire statement balance each month. This will help you to avoid late fees and black marks on your credit report.
Building new credit can seem daunting, but success is possible. With patience, diligence and using these seven tips, you’ll soon be on your way to a positive financial future.