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The Best Ways to Build Credit
The Petal Team

Building credit is often easier said than done, like most financial things in life. Here’s why:

To build credit, you typically need a loan or a credit card.

But to get a loan or a credit card, you usually need credit.

See the problem here? 🤔

The system makes it hard for anyone without credit to get a good credit card. Most bank “starter cards” have low credit limits, high interest charges, and high fees – some, like secured cards, even make you put down a deposit. All of that can be expensive, and that’s before you even have the opportunity to build credit.

Whether you have a secured credit card, Petal credit card, or some other type of credit card, using a credit card responsibly is an easy way to build good credit. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

Pay on time, every time

Payment history can account for 35 percent of your credit score, so it’s crucial to stay on top of payments each and every month. On that steady, uphill climb to amazing credit? One bump in the road (like a missed payment) can change your course.

What’s worse is that severely late payments can end up on your credit report for an extended period of time. Remember accidentally swallowing gum and fearing it would stay in your stomach forever? That’s (thankfully) a myth, but late payments stay on your credit report for up to seven years – no myth.



Splurge Responsibly

Have a credit limit of $2,000? Lucky you –  but did you know that if you spend the full $2,000 each cycle, you could actually hurt your credit score instead of helping it?

You should aim to use less than 30 percent of the total credit line you have across all of your credit cards at any given time. This shows the #CreditGods⚡that you can handle their IOUs responsibly.


Don’t Get Greedy

The phrase “everything in moderation” applies to more than just the temptation of Friday afternoon office donuts.

When you submit an application for a credit card, the credit card issuers generally perform a hard inquiry – also known as a hard pull. The term ‘hard inquiry’ refers to when a potential lender (in this case, the credit card issuer) is reviewing your credit, because you’ve applied to open a line of credit with them. Any hard inquiry, even one where you are approved for the card, has the possibility of lowering your credit score. It is unlikely to cause a lasting, negative impact to your score as long as you limit the number of credit cards (or loans) you apply for in a short timeframe.

Multiple hard pulls in a short amount of time can be a red flag and inaccurately classify you as a high-risk credit user – so take it slow. Whether we’re talking 💳 or 🍩, moderation is key.

Insider tip: We generally recommend to apply for no more than one card every three months, and think about waiting six months if you’re wallet already holds a handful of plastic.


"You should aim to use less than 30 percent of the total credit line you have across all of your credit cards at any given time. This shows the #CreditGods⚡that you can handle their IOUs responsibly."

Stay loyal to open accounts

When applying for jobs, short stints at different jobs on your résumé can make you stand out in a bad way. The same misperceptions can come into play on your credit report if accounts are frequently opened and closed.

The length of history on your accounts factors into your credit score, so make sure to keep your credit card accounts active and open for as long as possible to ensure maximum score growing potential. It sounds counterintuitive, but never close your first credit card account. Even if you’ve moved on to a new card, make sure to use it every once in a while so the company doesn’t close it for you either.

Keep your credit report in ✔️

Everyone makes mistakes, including the people behind your credit report. Make sure to take advantage of the annual free credit report available to you through the three major credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Keep your eyes peeled for inaccurate information that could be hurting your score, and make sure your report accurately describes what you’ve been up to. If you find an error, alert the relevant credit bureau immediately so they can help you fix your credit report.

Insider tip: Instead of checking all three at once, check one every four months and spread them out over the course of the year.  Other services, provided by companies like CreditKarma and some credit card providers, also provide you with free access to your score.


TL; DR

 

1)    The most important thing you can do when owning a credit card is to make your payments on time, every time. A consistent record of paying early and often should increase your score, establishing you as a credit guru in no time.

2)    Whether you have one credit card or five, make sure your combined spending is less than 30 percent of your total available credit. This is known as low credit utilization, and may help keep you from looking like a risky spender. Don’t overdo it with open credit card accounts in a short amount of time either  – that can be a major 🚩 to lenders.

3)    Stay loyal to the cards you currently have and keep those accounts open as long as it’s still right for you. Keep the three major credit bureaus accountable by checking up on your report (for free) regularly to ensure information is accurate and up-to-date.

4)    At the end of the day, getting a credit card can seem tricky, expensive, and ultimately impossible. That’s why Petal is here to help.