First, see where you stand at the moment with the credit-rating agencies, says Dave Roos at HowStuffWorks, who cites one report that said 50 million American adults have no credit history at all. Roos' list of credit-building steps seems aimed at those 50 million, presumably young or poor individuals, but the lessons are for everyone. Build credit by opening accounts and paying your bills on time. His last two steps sound simple, but just try them: Get a good job; and don't mess up. tinyurl.com/dh-buildcredit1
There's just one sure site for getting the free credit reports that Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are required to provide to you once a year -- though only if you ask. That site is www.annualcreditreport.com. Note that you won't be getting free credit "scores," just the reports. The agencies can, and will, charge you to see your scores. ">tinyurl.com/dh-buildcredit2
A list of "myths" about building credit, by Bankrate's Janna Herron, reveals some odd things about credit. For example, she says, it's better to have an open credit account in good standing -- meaning you're making timely payments -- than to have no outstanding loans. "A closed account only shows good payment behavior in the past and becomes less and less predictive," Herron writes. Also, since your recent behavior is more important than older information on your credit report, you can have a good credit score even with an old default or bankruptcy on your record, one expert tells Herron. tinyurl.com/dh-buildcredit3
Establishing credit for the first time seems to carry a catch-22: You need credit to get credit. This article at About.com has some suggestions that clear a path for first-time credit-building. The key step is to open checking and savings accounts at a local bank. That bank then should be your first stop for a credit card or loan. tinyurl.com/dh-buildcredit4
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