I moved to the states eight years ago, and so I had absolutely no credit score. But at the same time, I had no debt either. So basically, I started at square one. I knew I had to build my credit score, but I didn’t know where to begin. I started applying for credit cards, and I probably got rejected from the first three to four credit card companies. The rejections felt like disappointments. I was also working part-time, so I understand why the banks did not feel comfortable approving me for a credit card.
I had to stop applying for credit cards because with every rejection came a hard inquiry, which negatively hit my credit score. I started researching online on how to get myself a credit card so I can start using it and building my credit score. I had a joint bank account with my husband, so I decided to apply for a credit card with the same bank. Surprisingly, I got approved for a credit line of $2000, and I was excited.
I began using the credit card for everything instead of using my debit card. I made it my goal to continue paying off my credit card before the due date and not accrue any debt. To keep track of my credit score, I opened up an account on Credit Karma (https://www.creditkarma.com/). It is free, and it does not affect the credit score at all when you sign up. You get to monitor your credit scores and get recommendations on what credit cards you can apply for based on your score. I use it frequently, and it has helped me keep track of what steps to take to better my credit score.
I held on to my first credit card for one whole year. I did not risk applying for a second credit card because I was still working part-time, and every hard inquiry can hurt the credit score. After one year, I applied for another credit through my bank account. I got approved for a limit of $3000. So now, my total limit was $5000, and that felt like a great accomplishment. The second credit card had perks of cashback, so I was getting up to 3% back with every purchase.
Before starting nursing school, I looked into a credit card offering 0% APR for 15-18 months. I did not want to take out student loans because I don’t deal with interest, and I also didn’t want to take a large amount of money out because life is unpredictable. Luckily, I did get approved for a third credit card, which I believe was 0% for 15 months, and the credit line was around $2200. I used that for tuition and books, and I paid the minimum overtime before the promotion ended.
I also put a few bills under my name, which helped my scores improve with every timely payment. It’s been three years since I have opened my first credit card. The goal is to continue building my credit score and eventually having a full-time nursing job which will help me to invest in a bigger project in the future.
Now, everyone’s credit score story is different. I am sharing my experience on how I built mine. I hope it can help you one way or another. But I do want to say is that it is not impossible to build your credit score. You have got to be patient because it will take time, but you will eventually get there. But most importantly, you have to handle all your finances responsibly.