Build Your Credit

Building or Rebuilding Your Credit

Establishing a good credit history makes it far easier to qualify for auto loans, home loans, and credit cards. And, whether you’re just starting out or if you’ve had a few challenges in the past, Unitus can probably help.

The first thing you should do is learn about what’s on your credit report. Start out by reading our Credit Report Tips. Once you have a good understanding of what’s on a credit report and how credit scores can work for you or against you, the next step is to start building or rebuilding your credit.

Build Your Credit

To build your credit, you’ll need to start out with some sort of credit product, such as a small car loan or a credit card. Remember, you’re just starting out, so keep the loan amount or credit limit small and easily manageable.

When looking for that first loan or credit card, here are the rules to live by:

  • Always compare interest rates before choosing a lender (shop around).
  • Take the time to read the fine print before accepting an offer (you might surprised by what you find).
  • On credit cards, compare over-the-limit fees, late fees, and cash advance fees, and try to avoid cards with an annual fee.
  • On car loans, always get an insurance quote before finalizing your purchase. You might be able to afford the car payment, but could be surprised by the cost of insurance.
  • Having a qualified co-signer may help qualify you for a better interest rate.

After selecting your lender and getting your first loan or credit card, remember to make your payment on time every month, no exceptions. And, if it’s a credit card, it’s important that you payoff the balance every month. Remember, it’s not how much you charge that builds your credit; it’s how responsible you are with what you have.

Also, now that you have some credit, you’ll begin receiving offers for more. Again, building good credit is really about being responsible, so unless you really need another loan or credit card, simply disregard those offers. Having multiple credit cards won’t hurt your credit score, but it can be very tempting to over-spend.

Unitus offers the following products to help you build your credit:

Rebuild Your Credit

Rebuilding your credit can be challenging and frustrating, and can take significant time and patience. However, it can be done. Here’s some advice:

  • Establish positive credit accounts, such as a Secured Visa Card, where you pledge a percentage of the credit line in cash in exchange for a credit card or a Savings-Secured Loan, which works just like a Secured Visa Card, but the pledge amount is equal to the current balance. Payment history on both types of accounts will be reported to the credit bureaus.
  • Moving forward, pay all of your bills on time. A new late payment has far more impact on your credit score than an older one does.
  • Always keep your credit card balances to a minimum. As explained in our Credit Report Tips section, the more you have available to charge, the higher your credit score.
  • Avoid advertisements that promise to improve your credit score for a fee; most are scams.
  • Be wary of credit offers that look too good to be true. Sadly, some lenders take advantage of people with low credit scores by charging them absurdly high interest rates and fees. Always read the fine print and know what you are getting into.
  • Avoid payday lenders! This may be an easy way to get cash when needed, but the costs are unreasonably high.

Unitus offers the following products to help you rebuild your credit:

Not all situations are alike, so another option is to get an unbiased view from an expert. A loan officer at Unitus can help with that. Simply call our Member Loan Center at 503-227-5571, option 2 or 1-800-452-0900, option 2 and ask for a credit review. Prior to calling, please obtain a free copy of your credit report from, a trusted website that is sponsored by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the three major credit bureaus.

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