How to Build Credit Before You Buy a Home or Make Another Major Purchase – Part 3
I’m excited about this week’s update to my eight-part series—How to Build Credit Before You Buy a Home or Make Another Major Purchase! Today’s lesson in how to build credit comes straight from Step Two of my book, 7 Steps to a 720 Credit Score. Step Two is: Have at least three revolving credit lines.
Credit bureaus give higher scores to people with three to five revolving credit card accounts, which include major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover, as well as store-specific retail cards, such as a Macy’s card, Chevron card, Gap card, etc. If you do not have at least three active credit cards, you should open some.
But, there’s a caveat: Open three major revolving credit cards, not three retail credit cards. If you have retail credit cards, be sure to read my article entitled, “Retail Credit Cards.” In short, this article explains that:
- Retail credit cards are not the best credit cards to help you along your path to learn how to build credit. Credit-scoring bureaus respond most favorably when people have three to five credit cards, so why waste one of them on a card that can be used only at specific stores.
- These credit cards often end up costing you more than you will save with the one-time discount you might receive when you open the account.
One thing to keep in mind when opening new credit cards and learning how to build credit: You credit score will initially take a hit when you open a credit card. The credit-scoring bureaus use a formula to calculate credit scores, and 10 percent of this formula considers inquiries by lenders into your credit score. Anytime you apply for a credit card, the credit card company will make an inquiry into your credit score, so your credit score will drop a bit at first. Don’t worry! Just know that in six months, your credit score will start to rebound, so long as you keep the balance below 30 percent and pay your bills on time. For this reason, if you have to open more than one card, open them all at once. Don’t prolong the agony! If you open one now, and another in six months, you will have to wait a year before your score starts to build. If you open them both now, your credit score will start to climb within six months (so long as you implement all the other steps).
If you have poor credit, you might not be able to open a typical credit card. In this case, consider opening a secured credit card. Lenders that offer secured credit cards will require you to make a deposit that is equal to or more than your limit, thereby guaranteeing the bank that you will repay the loan. If you do not make your monthly payment, the deposit is applied toward your balance.
Another option for borrowers with poor credit is to be added as an authorized user to an existing account in good standing. Authorized user accounts help you borrow a family member’s positive credit history while you learn how to build credit on your own.
If you have more than five credit card accounts, do not close the accounts. Most credit experts agree that once you have opened the excess accounts, the damage is done. In fact, closing them might hurt your score and will never help you if you want to learn how to build credit. If you have more than five credit cards, we sure to read the blog called “Closing Credit Card Accounts” so that you know exactly what to do if you have more than five credit cards.
Be sure to come back next week for the fourth blog post of my eight-part series: How to Build Credit Before You Buy a Home or Make Another Major Purchase. And, don’t forget to register for my free teleseminar that teaches you how to negotiate with banks for lower interest rates.