A strong credit history gives you access to money tools that increase your financial security. How do you build positive credit if you don’t have credit history or if your credit score is low? This article shares 5 ways to build credit.

1. Checking account history

Start with your bank. Banks have a variety of programs to help depositors begin to access credit. As reported by the  Wall Street Journal, several large banks, including JPMorgan Chase, US Bancorp, and Wells Fargo, will participate in a pilot program aiming to increase access to credit. Beginning this fall, they will exchange customers’ checking account balance and overdraft history for approval for basic credit cards. The goal is to help those who are financially responsible, but don’t have credit history, build credit. Managing your checking account responsibly without over-drafting could soon allow you to qualify for your first credit card. Talk to your bank to ask if they offer this or similar programs.

2. Take out a credit builder loan

Credit builder loans are offered by many credit unions and community banks. Based on the loan you choose, you make fixed payments into a savings account for a set period of time. At the end of that term, the money you paid is released to you.

If you make timely payments, your credit score increases, but if you don’t, your credit score will decrease. It’s important to find a loan with terms you know you can pay.

3. Get a secured credit card

Unlike a typical credit card, with which you borrow money upfront and repay at the end of the borrowing cycle, a secured credit card requires a prepaid deposit. The deposit determines your borrowing limit. The standard minimum deposit is $200 but can be as high as $2,000.

Secured cards tend to have annual fees, and fee-free cards have higher interest rates. If you pay off the balance monthly, the interest rate shouldn’t be an issue. Choose the card and borrowing limit that’s right for you.

As with a credit builder loan, the credit company reports your monthly repayments to credit bureaus and timely payments increase your score. Some companies will allow you to switch to an unsecured credit card, which doesn’t require a deposit, when you establish a reliable reputation for repayment.

4. Seek help from a credit counseling organization

If you’re struggling with debt repayment and need help getting back on the right foot, consider working with a credit counseling organization. These nonprofit organizations, such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling offer free guidance on debt management and healthy money management. When seeking a credit counselor, research their status with the Better Business Bureau to ensure you’re working with a reputable organization.

5. Use a credit repair company

If you need someone to do the credit repair work for  you, you can work with a credit repair company that will consolidate your debts and help you work out a repayment plan. They might also offer money management advice.

Credit repair companies have various fee structures. Some charge for each negative item they remove from your credit report. Others charge on a monthly basis, for example. Research the company you choose to confirm their reputation.  In this article, Money shares their recommendations for the 6 best credit repair companies of 2021.

Strong credit is important because it allows you to access funds for positive financial moves like buying a home and starting a business. Take steps to intentionally build positive credit to increase your long-term financial success.