• Discounts and special offers
  • Subscriber-only articles and interviews
  • Breaking news and trending topics

Already a subscriber?

By signing up, you accept Moneywise's Terms of Use, Subscription Agreement, and Privacy Policy.

Not interested ?

The starting point

Planning, risk and strategy in business, businessman gambling placing wooden block on a tower
Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock

In order to start building a credit score, you must have an account that reports your payment history and balance to one of the three big credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.

You need at least six months of credit history to qualify for a FICO credit score — which is the most common scoring metric. Your credit history makes up 15% of your FICO score.

Six months is pretty much the bare minimum in terms of credit history. In many cases, lenders consider anything between two to four years of history a good starting point. A solid history that will count as a positive in your favor is about 10 years of good credit.

Need cash fast? Turn to Credible for hassle-free personal loans!

With competitive rates and transparent terms, Credible makes borrowing simple and stress-free. Whether it's for a new car, home improvement, or debt consolidation, find the perfect loan for your needs

Find the best rate for you

What is a good credit score?

credit score concept, male hand draws a chart with credit history values.
SergeiShimanovich / Shutterstock

Credit scores from 580 to 669 are typically considered fair. A score of 670 to 739 is considered good; 740 to 799 is seen as very good; and 800 and higher is considered excellent. If you’re just starting out building your credit, a score in the low 700s is a good target to aim for.

When you begin building credit, however, you don’t start with a 0 or a very low number like 300.

Precisely how credit is scored is the stuff of complicated algorithms and trade secrets, but there are things we know help it go up: pay your bills on time, don’t carry a big balance and don’t open too many accounts too close together.

With that said, here are some other ways to build your credit score.

Looking to keep building up your credit and get some rewards at the same time? You can get a no-fee, cash-back Visa card to do exactly that.

How time affects your credit score

Credit cards in brown wallet with black analog clock on white background
samritk / Shutterstock

Having older credit accounts with a good payment history shows lenders that you’re responsible with your financial obligations. But lenders will also look at other things, like the number of accounts you have and their average age.

Your overall credit history is tied pretty closely to the things you’d expect: Payment history, the amount of debt you’re carrying and new accounts you’ve opened recently. There are many factors that go into calculating your credit score, but hanging on to an older credit card you still use and shows a strong payment history is a good idea.

The other aspect to consider is the average age of your accounts. This is determined by just adding the age of each account and dividing it by the number of accounts.

Let’s say you have four credit cards: one is 12 years old, one is 7 years old, one is 4 years old and the newest is one year old. If you add up those ages (12 + 7 + 4 + 1 = 24) and divide that by the number of cards (four) you get an average account age of six years.

As you can see, every new credit card or account you add will lower the average age. And a slew of new accounts will lower it very quickly. And as far as lenders are concerned, the older the age the better, so it’s a great reason to steer clear of opening new cards too often.

This 2 Minute Move Could Knock $500/Year off Your Car Insurance in 2024

Saving money on car insurance with BestMoney is a simple way to reduce your expenses. You’ll often get the same, or even better, insurance for less than what you’re paying right now.

There’s no reason not to at least try this free service. Check out BestMoney today, and take a turn in the right direction.

Get Started

Building a good score

Euphoric young family couple looking at laptop screen, celebrating online lottery win notification.
fizkes / Shutterstock

One of the most important places to start when it comes to building and maintaining good credit is simply knowing what your credit score is.

There are sites that offer free credit monitoring, which is a great place to start getting into the habit of keeping an eye on it.

Maintaining a good credit history by keeping your balances low and making your monthly payments consistently. As you create a good payment track record, your credit score will gradually rise.

If you’re concerned that your credit score could use a bump in the right direction, there are also services designed to help you raise your FICO score.

And if your existing debt has you starting to feel swamped, [you should consider folding all of your debt into a consolidation loan with a lower interest rate.

  • Credit building: If you need to build your credit up, there are dedicated credit-building services designed to help you do just that.
  • Get a credit card designed to help you build your score: Provided you haven’t just just applied for or got a new credit card, you can sign up for a new card and get a jump on building your credit while enjoying benefits like no fees and cash back.
  • Credit repair: Is your credit not where it should be and you need to put in the work to repair it? You can get a special credit-repair loan to help get your score back up.

Find a financial adviser in minutes

Are you confident in your retirement savings? Get advice on your investment portfolio from a certified professional through WiserAdvisor. It only takes 5 minutes to connect with an adviser who puts you first.

Get Started

About the Author

Justin Anderson

Justin Anderson

Former Reporter

Justin Anderson was formerly a reporter at MoneyWise. He has a degree in Journalism from Ryerson University and his career has seen him cover everything from business and finance to the entertainment industry to politics, with plenty in between.

What to Read Next


The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.