At the age of 18, everyone starts out with a clean slate, financially speaking.  You have no credit, good or bad, and it’s time to start building for the future.  Your credit rating affects your ability to purchase a home, a car, and many other staples of a comfortable life.

If you’re not sure how to begin growing your credit rating, you’ve stumbled upon an information gold mine.  Here is a quick summary of a few excellent ways to build a stellar credit score.  Take notes, and begin changing your future today.

Apply for a secured credit card

If you don’t already have a good credit score, you have other options for obtaining a credit card.  One of the most useful types of credit cards is a secured card.  A secured credit card is backed by a cash deposit the cardholder makes up front.  The deposit typically totals your credit limit.

Just like any other credit card, you use it to make purchases.  Each month, you pay payments on the debt.  Subsequently, your credit rating will be positively affected over time.

Try for a credit-builder loan

The sole purpose of a credit-builder loan is exactly as it sounds.  It’s kind of like a forced savings plan, as the loan amount is not released by the bank until it is paid in full.  You can usually find the option for a credit-builder loan from a credit union or community bank.

Piggyback someone else’s credit

If you have a trusted friend or family member, you can piggyback off of their credit rating.  Co-sign on a phone contract or become an authorized user on your friend/family member’s credit card.

The credit effect goes both ways, though.  Make sure you can trust the longevity and responsibility of the person you choose to piggyback.  You could end up doing damage to your credit.

Make your payments in full and on time

The very best thing you can do to keep your credit scores in the green is to make all your payments in full and on time.  There’s nothing better than a hard worked credit history.  If you show over and over again that you can be trusted in matters of finance, you’ll stay in the green.

Keep a watchful eye on your credit report

Keep a watchful eye on your credit report, but don’t do it in such a way that it affects your numbers.  Enroll in a service like Credit Karma to gain unlimited access to your credit reports.  You are also entitled to one free report from each agency once per year.  Take advantage of this offer, and make sure your credit accurately reflects your financial behaviors.