Some things can't be rushed, and one of those things that can is your credit score. Starting your credit file at an early age gives you a head start toward the goal of a stellar credit score, which will help you get the best deals on credit cards, car loans and mortgages in the future. In addition, a good credit history will make you a more attractive tenant to future landlords. Even though you might not be able to get a traditional credit card on your own yet, that doesn't mean you can't take other steps to build your credit.
Check your credit report at least once per year. Each of the three major bureaus -- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion -- are required by law to offer a free report once every 12 months. You can them from www.annualcreditreport.com. Even though you might not have opened an account before, it's possible that someone else did in your name illegally and that's being reported on your credit report. If this happens, the sooner you know about it, the sooner you can fix it and start building a positive credit history.
Ask a parent to add you as an authorized user on one or more of your parents' credit card accounts -- assuming your parents' pay the bills on time every month. According to CNN, being added as an authorized user will start having that account's information added to your credit score either immediately or as soon as you turn 17, depending on the credit bureau. However, if your parent doesn't pay on time each month, watch out: All the information, good and bad, gets added to your name, so when your parent pays late, that hurts your credit score, too.
Apply for a secured credit card, which is a credit card that requires that you put down a deposit that's used if you don't pay your bill. For example, if you have a $500 deposit, that's your credit limit.
- Apply for a credit card with your parent as a co-signer or, if you have your own income, on your own when you turn 18. However, it may take some time being an authorized user or having a secured credit card before you get approved because of your lack of credit history. Make sure you make all the payments on time because if you're late, not only will your credit score suffer, but your parents' score will get dinged as well.
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