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11 Genius Hacks Anyone Can Use to Build Credit at 18

It’s possible to build credit once you turn 18, and it can actually be quite simple with some research and a little bit of creative thinking. These 11 genius credit-building hacks will show you how to start today.

Author: Arro Team

February 14, 2023|Blog

11 Genius Hacks Anyone Can Use to Build Credit at 18 hero image

As if life didn’t already come with enough major changes the minute you turn 18, building credit can be one of the most confusing of them all. Talk about a catch-22 situation. You need credit, but no one wants to lend you credit because you don’t already have credit. And if you already had credit, you wouldn’t need it in the first place. It can be so frustrating!

Fortunately, not only is it possible to build credit once you turn 18, it can actually be quite simple with some research and a little bit of creative thinking. These 11 genius credit-building hacks will show you how.

1. Educate Yourself

Education is the key to building your credit history starting at age 18. Don’t let your eyes gloss over every time someone mentions the words principal balance, debt to income ratio, or FICO score. Do your research so you can understand exactly how credit works. Doing so will mean the difference between building good credit and having bad credit.

2. Seek Employment

If you don’t already have a job by the time you turn 18, now is the time to seek employment. Even if it’s just for a few hours per week while you attend school, having a steady income makes it that much easier to get approved for credit. And you won’t have to rely on a parent or guardian to cosign for you.

3. Check Your Credit Score

There’s a first time for everything, and reaching your 18th birthday is a great reminder to check your credit score. While it may seem counterintuitive, since you probably don’t have much of anything on it, there’s always the chance that your identity was stolen in the past or that errors have been made. So, you want to make sure that you’re credit invisible, like you should be.

4. Dispute Errors

Imagine you check your credit score for the first time, and you notice a potential error. Now what? Leaving errors on your credit report will affect your credit score, so it’s important that you dispute those errors immediately and try to get them removed. Look closely for things like inaccurate payment dates, balances, or accounts.

5. Become an Authorized User

One of the simplest ways to start building your own credit is to become an authorized user on someone else’s card. Your parent or guardian will typically be the primary cardholder, and as an authorized user, you benefit from getting added on to it because you can now use the card yourself and build credit along the way. Just be careful because the primary cardholder can end up damaging your credit if they don’t manage it responsibly.

6. Take Out a Loan

Taking out a car loan or a student loan is another way you can build credit while paying for something you may need anyway. Just be sure to take out an amount you can actually afford to pay back. And remember that just because you get approved for a certain figure, doesn’t mean that you should borrow the full amount.

7. Open a Credit Card

It might sound obvious, but opening a credit card is a great way to start building credit. The problem is that you run the risk of being denied for most credit cards on the market if you don’t have a credit history. Fortunately, an option like the Arro Card doesn’t require a credit history to apply and helps people who are new to credit learn the ins and outs of how to manage it. 

8. Keep a Low Balance

When you do get approved for a credit card or take out a loan, you want to keep the balance as low as possible. And that’s because your debt-to-credit ratio is one of the many factors used to determine whether or not you should be given additional lines of credit in the future. In other words, only take out what you need, make your monthly payments, and pay it off when you can.

9. Make Payments On Time

Once you do receive a line of credit, it’s crucial that you make all of your payments by the due date. Not only will this improve your credit score over the years, but it will also help you avoid accruing additional interest charges and any penalty fees for missed or late payments. To make it easy on yourself, set up automatic transfers from your bank so that you pay on time every time. 

10. Pay More Than the Minimum

You receive your first bill and are pleasantly surprised that the minimum payment is less than you imagined so you don’t have to pay that much. Not so fast! Paying the minimum means you’ll be charged interest so you’ll be spending even more money over time. It also keeps your debt-to-credit ratio higher than it should be. When you pay more than the minimum, you save money, improve your credit score, and increase your chances of getting credit in the future.

11. Avoid Credit-Building Pitfalls

Using the hacks above can help you start building your credit fast, but there are also credit-building pitfalls you want to avoid at all costs. Refrain from opening up too many lines of credit, signing up for the wrong credit card, taking out unnecessary cash advances, and allowing untrustworthy authorized users on your card. Don’t be swayed by irrelevant perks – you don’t need the free t-shirt! Only open lines of credit that make sense for you and keep your information safe. 

Turning 18 comes with a lot of new responsibilities and credit building is certainly one of them. While many people are willing to share their personal advice with you, make sure you do your own research too, ask lots of questions, and decide which credit options make the most sense for your particular situation. And remember that building credit takes time. A high credit score is not something you can earn overnight. However, making one smart decision at a time will lead to a high credit score in the years to come.