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See the results of our 2022 Personal Finance Study!

Build and Boost Your Credit (While Paying Down Debt)

By
Kelly Zimmerman
Kelly Zimmerman managed and edited all content as editor-in-chief for OppU. She has been published in national publications and newswires, including The Associated Press, McClatchy, and MarketWatch.com.
Read time: 3 min
Updated on September 13, 2022
young couple learning how to build and boost their credit while paying down debt
Your credit score and debt history work hand in hand. Learn to pay down personal debt while boosting your credit score simultaneously.

How to Build Credit

Your life stage and financial goals can guide you to a better credit score:

Gen Z

Pay student loan bills on time. Student loans add to your credit mix, the length of your credit history, and payment history.

Millennials & Gen X

Fix credit report errors. You may incur bad marks or errors on your credit report over time. Your score may increase after filing a dispute to eliminate erroneous information.

Baby Boomers & Retirees

Maintain credit cards and limit new debts. Keep your credit cards active, but don’t carry a balance. Pay attention to your credit limit. Avoid co-signing new loans with family members.

Learn more about how to build credit at any age.

Protect Yourself from Fraud

These methods will help safeguard your identity and credit score:

  • Contactless payment: Methods like Apple Pay hide credit card numbers when you make a purchase.
  • Regular account review: Review billing statements frequently to look for fraudulent charges.
  • Dedicated credit cards: Use one card for online purchases for easier account tracking.
  • Safeguarding personal information: Don't give your financial information over the phone unless you initiate the call.
  • Avoid Hacking: Only use home Wi-Fi or password-protected networks for online purchases.

Read more in our guide to fighting credit card fraud.

pull quote from Sam Rose, Personal Finance Writer

Don’t have a credit card? You still have credit-building options.

  • Personal loans
  • Secured credit cards
  • Lending circles
  • Report utility payments

Learn more about how to build credit without a credit card.

Pay down debt

Too much debt can drag down your credit score.

illustration of a man pulling a weight to show that debt accounts for 30% of your FICO score

Paying down debt can take time, but it is possible. Finding the right strategy can help.

3 Repayment Strategies:

  • Start small: Gain momentum by paying down the smallest debt first while making minimum payments on all other balances. Then start again with the next smallest debt.
  • Limit long-term interest: Pay down the debt with the highest interest rate and make minimum payments on all other balances. Once the highest-interest debt is gone, start the process again.
  • Consolidate debt: Use a low-interest personal loan to pay off higher-interest balances and replace them with a single monthly payment.

Learn more about strategies to climb your way out of debt.

What if those strategies aren’t enough? Can you negotiate debt?

Maybe. Determining factors:

  • Your current credit score
  • Your account status
  • Your lender’s settlement terms

Learn more about negotiating credit card debt.

Resources

Looking for additional credit boosting tips? Find them on the OppU blog.

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