Building credit as a teen can be challenging since most credit-building activities require you to be at least 18 years old. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take now to establish a solid credit foundation to build on. Let’s take a look:
Open a bank account
Start by opening a checking or savings account in your name (this can be an account of your own or a joint account). While this doesn’t directly contribute to your credit score, it establishes a relationship with a financial institution and demonstrates responsible financial behavior.
Become an authorized user
Ask a parent or guardian to add you as an authorized user on one of their credit cards. As an authorized user, the credit card activity will be reported on your credit history, potentially helping you establish positive credit if the account is managed responsibly. Note: Not all accounts allow minors to be added as an authorized user.
Make any payments on time
Whether you have a credit card or not, it’s crucial to make all your payments on time. This includes any bills, like your phone bill or monthly subscriptions (think Netflix, Spotify, and Loot Crate). By consistently paying your bills on time, you show you can be trusted with debt, which is a key factor in building good credit.
Don’t spend more than you have
This is a big one: Maintain a budget and spend within your means. Some borrowing is OK, but avoid accumulating excessive debt and prioritize saving money. Demonstrating good money management skills not only helps you afford day-to-day expenses, it also contributes positively to your creditworthiness in the long run.
Save for future goals
Start saving money for your future goals, whether it’s a smaller one-time purchase (like a phone upgrade) or something larger (like a college fund). Regularly set aside a portion of your earnings or allowance to build your savings. As you get into the habit of carving out some earnings for savings, you won’t even miss it—though it’ll be there to access when needed.
Building credit takes time and patience. As a teen, focus on establishing responsible financial habits and making positive choices. A strong foundation now means even more opportunities for building your credit history as you get older.