A credit score is one number that can have a big impact on your life. With the right credit score, you can unlock lower interest rates on financing for big-ticket items. Depending on the purchase, a lower interest rate could allow you to save thousands over the course of the loan.
Building credit should be a top priority if you have big purchases such as a home or car planned with financing involved. But it can be difficult to know where to get started. After all, you don’t want to make a misstep with risky credit that could end up hurting your credit score.
The good news is that there are several low risk ways to build your credit score.
In partnership with Chime, here are the best low risk ways to build your credit score. If you’re looking for a low risk and easy way to build credit, check out the secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card >>
5 Low Risk Ways To Build Credit
Want to build your credit without too much risk involved? Here are some great options.
Use A Secured Card
A secured credit card offers those new to credit a unique opportunity. Unlike an unsecured credit card that offers you a spending limit based on your income, a secured credit card has a limit that is tied to the amount of cash you put up as collateral.
Other than the cash deposit, a secured credit card will function mostly in the same way as an unsecured credit card. That includes the part when the credit card company reports your payments to the credit bureaus. The reporting feature will allow you to build credit if you make on-time payments (but late payments may negatively impact your credit history).
A secured credit card is one of the best options on this list because you can be entirely in control of your deposit and spending behavior. If you decide to include a secured credit card as a part of your tool set for building credit, one of the best cards out there is the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card.
Here’s what makes the Chime Credit Builder so great:
- No annual fees
- No interest
- No credit check to apply
- No minimum security deposit is required¹
- Monthly balance is paid with your direct deposit automatically, when you turn on the Safer Credit
- Builder feature
- Fee-free˜ cash withdrawals at over 60,000 ATMs
- Can use anywhere Visa is accepted
- Ability to instantly disable card in-app
- 24/7 support
- Enable transaction alerts to help prevent fraud
Essentially, the Chime Credit Builder Card makes it as easy as possible for you to build credit. You won’t encounter annual fees, which will make your wallet happy. Plus, you can choose the size security deposit you are willing to make.
Perhaps the best part of this secured credit card is that your actions will be reported to all three credit bureaus -- TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. On average, members report a 30 point² increase in their credit score.
Take a minute to check out the Chime Credit Builder today. You’ll need to start by opening a Chime Checking Account and make a qualifying direct deposit of $200³ to get started.
Take Out A Credit Builder Loan
A credit builder loan offers a low risk way for borrowers to build credit and save money at the same time. When you choose a credit builder loan, the amount you borrow will be placed in a bank account.
You won’t have access to the funds. But you will be expected to make on-time payments until you repay the loan in full. As you make payments, the lender will report your activity to a credit bureau. At the end of the repayment, you'll have access to the funds.
The process allows you to build credit and savings at the same time. But you’ll likely have to pay some kind of fee or interest payments along the way. So this may not be the most affordable way to build credit.
Add Monthly Bills To Your Credit Report
Do you already make regular payments each month? Chances are you probably do. For example, paying your rent or utility on-time each month is a mark of financial responsibility. But you most likely won’t get credit for this good habit on your credit report without taking an extra step.
You can use a rent reporting service to have your rent payments reported to the credit bureaus. One company that offers this service is Rental Kharma. Cell phone and utility payments can also be counted through services like LevelCredit and Experian Boost.
Become An Authorized User
Do you know someone with a great credit score? If so, they might be willing to add you as an authorized user. When you become an authorized user, your credit score may improve if the primary account holder has a long history of on-time payments.
Consider asking a closer family member or friend to become an authorized user. If you're added, treat the new responsibility with the respect it deserves. Make sure that you understand any ground rules that your primary account holder wants to institute for your usage. And, remember, you don’t necessarily have to use the card at all to reap the benefits of becoming an authorized user.
Use Credit Responsibly
Last, but not least, using any credit you already have responsibly can help you build your credit score. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
- Make on-time payments. Always make at least the minimum payment by the due date.
- Keep your credit utilization low. Don’t rely too heavily on your credit. Most experts recommend keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30%.
- Keep your credit cards open. Even if you don’t use your credit card often, it's usually a good idea to keep the account open. A long account history can give your credit score a boost.
- Don’t over-apply for credit. Try not to apply for multiple lines of credit at once.
As you use your available credit responsibility, you should see your credit score rise over time.
The Bottom Line: You Can Build Credit
A good credit score can open the door to attractive financing on big loans. With deliberate action, you can build your credit score over time. Although you likely won’t see a big push overnight, the gains may increase steadily as you employ the above strategies.
Want more tips on improving your credit? Read more here.
Banking services for the Chime Checking Account are provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Please see back of your Card for its issuing bank. The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card is issued by Stride Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted.
¹ Money added to Credit Builder will be held in a secured account as collateral for your Credit Builder card, which means you can spend up to this amount on your card. This is money you can use to pay off your charges at the end of every month.
² Based on a representative study conducted by TransUnion®, members who started using Chime Credit Builder in September 2019 observed a median credit score (VantageScore 3.0) increase of 30 points by January 2020. On-time payment history can have a positive impact on your credit score. Late payment may negatively impact your credit score.
³ To be eligible to apply for Credit Builder, you need to have received a qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Checking Account within 365 days of your Credit Builder application. The qualifying direct deposit must have been made by your employer, payroll provider, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit. Bank ACH transfers, Pay Friends transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, and cash loads or deposits are not qualifying direct deposits.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.