Fixing Bad Credit for 20- and 30-Somethings

by Amanda Finn
Millennials can often struggle financially, which is bad for their credit scores. But these tips can help build credit profiles worth texting home about!

Millennials. They’re usually taking the heat for something somewhere on any given day. But a fact of life as a millennial is that they are generally earning less than their parents did when they were their age. So when it comes to credit cards, there is a good chance that a millennial is in debt.

That doesn’t bode well for their credit scores. In fact, when we surveyed millennials back in 2018, 46 percent of them reported feeling held back by their credit scores.

But never fear millennial readers! Bad credit ratings aren’t permanent dents in your financial health. In fact, credit cards and other means of credit building can help you, you just have to be fiscally smart about it and we’re here to help!


Responsible spending.

Here’s the thing: Tackling credit card debt and therefore improving your credit score is a balancing act. On the one hand, you have to pay down your balances, and on the other hand, you need to stop increasing those balances.

One way of tackling the balances issue is by creating a lump consolidation loan. A consolidation loan can put together the money that you owe into one payment rather than several. That means paying one (or no) interest fee while only keeping track of one due date. This can save you time, money and sanity while doubling down against your credit card mountain (or molehill).

According to chief side hustler Nick Loper (@nloper), of SideHustleNation.com, credit cards have offered him not just a means of finding free money, they’ve also built him a bridge to excellent credit scores. His main advice to young folks is to be smart about spending.

“For young people starting out, just think of it like a debit card, but with some cool rewards and perks,” he said. “Don’t spend money you don’t have, but use it as an opportunity to prove you can be a responsible borrower. Building that credit history will make life easier for you when applying for other credit down the road.”

He even created a helpful guide to making the most of credit card perks that might be a good starting point for building credit entitled Credit Card Rewards 101.

Loper’s advice is well worth taking, as he says he has never paid a cent of credit card interest.

Pay on time.

It sounds like a no-brainer to say you need to pay your bills on time, but it matters. Not paying your bills affects your credit score. Especially if you’re avoiding your credit card repayments. The companies will not hesitate to send collection agencies your way, so be mindful of those due dates.

Inc. Magazine’s list of a dozen ways to improve credit scores ends with paying on time. They emphasize the importance of due dates in regard to your credit score re-building.

“Even one late payment can hurt your score,” according to Inc. “Do everything you can, from this day on, to always pay your bills on time. And if one month you aren’t able to pay everything on time, be smart about which bills you pay late. Your mortgage lender or credit card provider will definitely report a late payment to the credit bureaus, but utilities and cell providers likely will not.”

We aren’t advising that you skip any payments to anyone, but heed the advice given by Inc. on which bills to prioritize if need be.

Don’t do more damage.

Damaging your credit score does not begin and end with spending too much money. You can damage your score by applying for too many cards all at once or applying for credit you simply don’t need.

Each time you apply for a new line of credit the bureau or issuer will put a hard inquiry on your credit history. A good borrower can apply for credit a few times a year, but if you don’t fall under the “good borrower” title, the more you apply for, the more it can ding your score.

Avoid hard credit inquiries more than twice a year. Any more than that is more likely to hinder you rather than help your rebuilding journey. Once you establish your score as a good borrower, those rules can change. For now, however, it’s best to build upon what you already have.

To learn more about improving your credit score, check out these related posts and articles from OppLoans:

Do you have a personal finance question you’d like us to answer? Let us know! You can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Contributors

Nick Loper (@nloper) helps people earn money outside of their day job. He’s an author, online entrepreneur, and host of the “Best Business Podcast”-nominated Side Hustle Show, which features new part-time business ideas each week. As Chief Side Hustler at SideHustleNation.com, he loves deconstructing the tactics and strategies behind building extra income streams.