Thursday, December 3, 2009

Breaking in

Breaking in
Living with no credit can be severely limiting, but there are ways to get into the credit system. Some lenders "will try to work with you," says Sweet. "But what it means is much more work for you." And that could include digging up proof of rental payments, old power bills and the like.

One good option: join a credit union. Because of the relationship that is established, it's easier to get help accessing traditional credit options -- and advice on entering the credit game, says Garkey.

Another option: get a secured credit card to start building up a positive credit history. The way it works: You apply for a card and make a deposit that will be equal to your credit limit. You use the card and pay the monthly bills, and the lender keeps your deposit for the life of the card. If all goes well, the lender may issue you a regular credit card after you've established a record of good payment. Then you'll get your deposit back. Consumers sometimes feel a social stigma about having a secured card, says Arnold. But that's totally unnecessary, he says. "The only people who know the card is secured is you and your bank," he says. It reports to the credit bureaus "just like a normal credit card," he adds.

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