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6 Ways to Jump-start Your Credit Score

Source: This content is provided courtesy of USAA. 

It's a common financial predicament for most 20-somethings: You need credit to get credit. But even if you're older and have been through some credit-wrecking havoc in your life, you could face the same issue. 

"The only way to build a credit history is to use credit," explains Maxine Sweet, vice president of public education at the credit beaureau Experian®, Check out these six easy steps to help get you started. 

1. Know the score: Figure out what credit history you've established. Even if you've never had a loan or credit card, there's a good chance you have information on your credit reports that has been compiled by the three major credit bureaus: Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®. For instance, Experian now collects rental payment histories, so some landlords submit reports to credit bureaus, notes Sweet. 

2. Research your choices: If you have little or no credit history, your choices for loans or credit cards may be limited, says Montanaro. However, retail or gas cards, and loans secured by property, such as furniture or a car, may be easy to get. Montanaro also suggests asking your parents or someone else with good credit to cosign on a low-limit credit card with you. 

3. Establish a track record: Once you have some credit accounts, it's important to use but not abuse them. "It's counterintuitive, but if you don't use credit, you wont be able to build a solid history," explains Montanaro. 

A  good habit: Use your card to make small purchases and pa off the balance each month. "B charging a small amount on at least one card and paying the balance on time and, ideally, in full, you will show that you can manage credit without charging more than you can afford to pay," says Sweet. 

4. Use credit Wisely: If you want to be a credit superstar, you must follow two basic rules: Pay on time and don't go over your credit limits. For those of you just starting out, this is even more critical. 

5. Don't make these mistakes: The following are common blunders you'll want to steer clear of, says Gina Jordan, assistant vice president of product management at USAA. 
   • Submitting too many applications
• Maxing out your accounts
• Closing accounts

6. Keep an eye on your reports: Once you've established credit, get in the habit of keeping an eye out for fraudulent activity, as well as any reporting mistakes. 

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