To see what’s hurting your scores, pull your credit reports for free from AnnualCreditReport.com, a federally authorized website. Then, take these steps:

  1. Dispute inaccuracies. Report errors on your credit reports to the corresponding credit bureaus.
  2. Pay down debt. In particular, reducing high balances on credit cards can boost credit significantly.
  3. Piggyback. Ifyour parents have excellent credit, ask them to add you as an authorized user on a credit card.
  4. Open a credit card and use it responsibly. Start with a student card or a secured card, one that requires cash collateral. Those under 21 may need a co-signer.
  5. Finally, don’t pay too much attention to what others are doing. Credit scores vary because people’s financial paths vary. “Everyone’s journey is different,” Chambers says.
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