The chances are good that the moment you enter a college campus, you will be inundated by incentives to sign up for credit card offers complete with free t-shirts and frisbees. If you currently have little or no credit to your name, you are not alone. Establishing your credit record doesn't have to mean opening a credit card. There are many other factors that comprise your credit report and help to build your credit.
Here are five ways to start building a strong credit report record:
Open a checking account through your banking institution – It is a good idea to open a savings account as well. Keep track of every check that you write, make every effort not to bounce any checks, and balance your account monthly. Once you have established a checking account, you can also qualify for a debit card.
Apply for a small loan through your banking institution – If you are planning on making a large purchase such as a car, you can establish good credit by putting a large down payment for the purchase. Make sure that you make timely payments on your loan - late payments will reflect negatively on your credit report.
Put all utility bills in your name – For bills like your gas and phone utility, you can build credit by putting the bills in your name. If you have a roommate, make sure that they pay you on time so that you don't have a negative impact on your credit report.
Apply for a secured credit card – The way a secured credit card works is that you deposit a certain amount of cash with a creditor to ensure that the creditor will be paid the amount of the outstanding balance, should you default on payments. Contact a local credit union to find out more about these cards and be sure to read all of the terms and agreements first.
Obtain a store credit card from a retailer – Store credit cards are easily obtained and can be a source of savings for you if you know how to use them. Stores like Gap, Sears, and Wal Mart offer discounts when you open the card and other benefits such as special sales for cardholders. The downside is that store cards have very high interest rates. The important thing to remember is that if you pay off your balance in full every month, you will not have to worry about 19% and 21% interest rates.