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Once you have started earning income, it’s important to think about how you can build a positive credit score. Every financial decision you make, from qualifying for a mortgage to purchasing life insurance, will rely heavily on your credit record. Your credit score reflects your financial situation, more specifically your capacity to pay off debts.

If you have a low or nonexistent credit record, then most financial institutions consider you as high risk. In other words, you may not qualify for any type of loan. In some cases, you may be able to get approval for a certain type of loan, but the interest you will pay for it would be higher than those who have a good credit score.

You need to aim for a credit score of at least 690 to have more financial flexibility, according to NerdWallet.com. The good news is that you can reach that number using a few simple tricks:

1.  Beat the deadline on your bills and debts

For many lenders and other financial institutions, your financial situation is best shown by your ability to pay your bills and debts on time. Delayed payments can stay on your credit record for years. It gets even worse if you owe too much in missed payments for rent, water, electricity, installment loans, and student loans. Although it takes patience and effort to settle all your dues, it can help you improve your credit score and attain better financial opportunities.

2. Apply for a secured card

It can be a challenge to qualify for a credit card if your credit record is less than stellar. In that case, your best bet would be to apply for a secured credit card. For this option, you may have to hand in a security deposit so you can start using the card. This would be more practical than getting a regular credit card which can cause your credit score to drop if the provider decides to reject your application.  You just need to shop around for the best credit cards that are aimed for consumers with scores below 600.

3. Check your credit utilization rate

Credit scores are calculated based on several factors, but one metric has a significant impact on your capacity to borrow money. This metric is called the credit utilization rate and it measures how much money you are borrowing relative to the amount of money you are allowed to borrow (in other words, your revolving credit).

Many financial experts would advise keeping your credit utilization rate at around 30%. If your revolving credit is at $15,000, you shouldn’t use more than $4,500 in credit. Going above this range can hurt your credit record. If you want to spend more on leisure and luxuries, consider making money on the side so you won’t have to tap into your credit.  

4. Avoid opening new lines of credit

There are many reasons why you want to open a new line of credit, but if your credit score isn’t in safe territory, you run the risk of getting thumbed down. This could show up on your credit record for the next two years. In addition, your credit score could experience a dip. Although the downgrade is temporary, it could affect your financial decisions in the future, such as applying for a mortgage. Before you open a new line of credit, make sure to do a soft check on your credit situation so you will know if you are likely to get approved.

With a good credit score, you will be able to qualify for loans at better interest rates. Consider these tips for improving your financial standing.

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