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Building Credit from Scratch

4 ways to build strong credit when you’re just starting out

It's like the "Chicken or the Egg" dilemma—if you don’t have a credit history, it’s hard to get a credit card or loan. But if you aren’t allowed to borrow money, how can you prove yourself and establish credit? It takes time to build credit, especially when you’re just starting out, but it can be done.

Here are the 4 basics of building your credit from scratch.

Why Credit is Important

Your credit score tells people how responsible you are in terms of managing your money. Good credit can help you rent an apartment, pay less for car insurance, qualify for a car loan… it can even help you get a great job. And when you do qualify for credit cards and loans, your good credit will help you get better interest rates and terms.

How Credit Works

Your overall credit is measured by several factors; the two most important are how much credit you use and how well you pay your bills. Other considerations include how long you’ve had credit, how you handle different types of credit, and your history of applying for credit. You need three to six months of credit activity before the credit bureaus can calculate an initial FICO credit score for you.

How to Establish Credit

While it sounds crazy, you must build credit by getting credit. This can be tough when you’re just starting out, but here are four easy ways to begin:

  • Get a secured credit card, available through Alaska USA. It works like a regular credit card, but it's backed by funds on deposit in your Alaska USA savings account. Making on-time payments is an important part of building good credit.

  • Get someone to co-sign for a loan or unsecured credit card. The person who cosigns with you has joint liability for the account, so if they have good credit, this can improve your chances of getting approved. When they co-sign, they become responsible for payment on the loan or card if you don’t.

  • Become an authorized user on a family member’s credit card. If your family member has good credit, this move allows you to benefit from their credit history. You don’t have to actually use the card; just the fact that you appear on the account helps you establish credit for yourself.

How to Build and Maintain Good Credit

It seems counterintuitive but the more credit you have and the less credit you use, the better your credit score will be. Be patient and persistent. Young borrowers will earn good credit score over time so it’s smart to build good credit before you need it.

Once it is available to you, use the credit you have but pay your bills on time and pay off your credit card balances each month. Don’t apply for too many new accounts at once; too many inquiries will lower your credit score. Monitor your card activity and check your credit report for errors each year using

Did you know?


  • You don’t need to carry a credit card balance to build credit. Transfer your balance to a low interest credit card like the Alaska USA Visa® Credit Card and pay off your entire balance each month to avoid interest charges.


  • Use your credit, but don’t use it all. Experts say you should not use more than 30% of your available credit. You’ll build a better credit score by keeping your credit utilization rate low.

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