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You can build credit at 18, and you should! Good credit opens doors. It’s not just about getting better interest rates on loans and credit cards (though that’s important). Good credit makes it easier to get a job and easier to rent an apartment. It’s a financial seal of approval, and that matters.

If you’re 18 you’re old enough to start building good credit, and the best time to start is right now.

To build credit at 18 you will need to use credit. That means finding ways to get credit without a credit check.

Here are six ways to do that!

1. Understand Your Credit

The first step in building credit is understanding what a credit score is and where it comes from. Start by reading up on how your credit score is calculated. Learn about credit score ranges and why they matter. Know where you can get your credit report and how to read a credit report.

That knowledge will give you the foundation you need to succeed in your journey to good credit.

Remember that your income, gender, and race do not make any difference in your credit score. There are very rich people with terrible credit and low-income people with great credit. It’s not about what you’ve got, it’s about how you manage what you’ve got.

2. Become an Authorized User

If you want to know how to build credit at 18, the first step is to talk to a family member about adding you to one of their credit cards as an authorized user.  

Adding you to their credit card as an authorized user will not cost any money, and there will be no credit check.  You don’t need to use the card or even know the card details.

💡 When you are an authorized user on another person’s credit card, that account information will appear on your credit and can help to increase your credit score.   

Their monthly credit card payments will appear as actual on your credit history.

Benefits to the authorized user:

  • No cost to the user (or cardholder).
  • Helps increase user’s credit score.
  • Cardholder payments appear on user’s credit history.

This is a great way to build credit at 18, but there are some risks.  

If the card owner maxes out their credit card or misses payments, your credit score could be negatively affected.   

Not all credit card issuers report authorized user accounts to the credit bureaus. if you’re considering using the authorized user strategy you should find out what card you’ll be added to and check whether they report authorized user accounts.

2. Use a Credit Builder Loan (No Credit Check)  

A credit-builder loan is an installment loan designed specifically for building credit. These loans are available to borrowers with no credit.

A credit-builder loan reverses the usual loan procedure. Instead of borrowing money and then making payments, the money you borrow is placed in a locked account. You make payments until the loan is paid off, and the lender releases the lump sum.

Credit builder loans usually involve small amounts, which keeps the monthly payment affordable.

A mix of credit types helps you build credit faster. If you already have a revolving account (if you are an authorized user, for example), a credit-builder loan will add an installment loan. That’s good for your credit mix.

You will have to be sure to make your payments on time, every time. If you do not you could harm your credit. Consider setting up an automatic payment from your checking account.

Many local banks and credit unions offer credit-builder loans. You can also get them from national online lenders like Self or Credit Strong.

Here are the steps:

  1. Select a loan amount ($500 to $2000)
  2. Make monthly payments, which the lender will report to the credit bureaus
  3. Get your money back

A Credit Builder Loan can add an installment loan to your credit mix and give you an opportunity to build a good payment history.

Check Credit Builder Loan Rates

On Self Lender

3. Get A Secured Credit Card (No Credit Check)  

Credit cards are considered revolving credit. There is a maximum credit limit and the balance revolves up and down as you use or make payments on the account.   

If you can’t qualify for a traditional credit card, a great way to add revolving credit to your credit mix is to get a secured credit card. You will make a deposit, and that deposit becomes your credit limit.

Quick Tip: When you are new to credit, the credit card companies do not want to risk giving you an unsecured credit card, but they will offer you a secured credit card.  

Once you have the card, you can use it the same way that you’d use any card. If your goal is to build credit, keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit – even lower if possible – and pay all bills in full and on time. Never make just the minimum payment!

Here’s a great way to build credit with a secured card. Place a small recurring bill, like your internet bill or Netflix account, and charge it to your card. Set up an automatic payment from your checking account. Then put the card away and don’t use it for anything else.

Your card will be active, the balance will be low, and the bills will be paid on time. That’s a recipe for building credit.

OpenSky offers a secured credit card with no credit check and only a $200 minimum deposit to open your account.  

Apply for a secured credit card

On Open Sky secure website

4. Rent Reporting through Rent Report Team, Inc. (No Credit Check)  

Do you pay rent?  

Did you know that your property manager or property owner is not reporting those rental payments to the three major credit bureaus?  

That means your rental payment history is not contributing to your credit record.  

It doesn’t have to be this way!   

You can sign up to have RentReporters notify Equifax and TransUnion of your rental payment each month.

They can report up to two years of past payments, establishing an immediate credit history.   

👉 Learn all about how rent reporting works and compare the best service providers.

This is an easy way to establish a stronger payment history and show creditors that they can trust you will pay them back. 

You will have to pay for this service, but it may be worth it.  

Sign up for rent reporting

On Rent Reporter’s website

5. Use a Store Card

Some store credit cards, like Fingerhut and Kikoff, are designed specifically for building credit. In each case, you can only use the card at one store.

These cards typically have very relaxed credit requirements. Unless you have something really bad on your credit report, you will be approved. You can make purchases and your payments will be reported to the credit bureaus.

The downside is that the goods in these stores tend to be expensive (they have to make money somehow). If you use these accounts, make only minimal purchases and make sure they are things you need.

Always compare the price with what you’d pay elsewhere and decide whether the credit-building impact is worth the price premium.

Sign up for Fingerhut Today

On their secure website

6. Use Your Bill Payments

Services like Experian Boost and eCredable lift place utility, phone, and other bill payments on your credit record. Each service reports only to one credit bureau – Experian for Experian Boost and TransUnion for eCredable lift – but both services are free, so you have nothing to lose from signing up. Both services report only positive data, so you won’t trash your credit if you make a late utility payment.

Taking Action!

The best time to start building credit is right now! It is possible to build credit at 18.

These six credit-building tools can help you establish a credit history and put you on the road to good credit. Just remember, they will only help if you use them wisely and make payments on time!   

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.