One of the toughest things for a new college grad to do is build credit. Your credit history can make or break you financially, but as someone starting out in the world, you begin with nothing. This makes it difficult to get a credit card, rent an apartment, and in some cases, even find a job.
There are different ways you can start to build credit. However, there’s one that’s often overlooked and it has to do with paying your different insurance policies. Now, I don’t want to confuse you. Having insurance premiums and paying them does not, in and of itself, improve your credit score. However, how you pay them and whether you pay them can. I’ll explain…
- Actually paying your insurance. If you have car, health, or renters insurance and you DON’T pay that premium for a long period of time, the insurance company may report you to debt collections. So, in this case, it’s not the act of paying but the act of not paying that affects your score. Even if you pay off your premium later, the damage has already been done, and can’t be reversed.
- Paying with a credit card. If you do have a credit card of any kind, even with a small limit, consider paying your premium balance with it if you’ll be able to pay off your credit card debt once the bill arrives. The more you use—and pay off—your credit card, the more positive history you’ll build.
- Establishing a habit. A good part of building good credit revolves around making timely, regular payments on your bills. Having insurance payments, like other utilities you may pay, teaches you to make monthly payments on time. Miss out, and you’ll either find yourself in situation No. 1 above, or you’ll just be without coverage. Either way, there are strong incentives to pay…even more so since it trains you to good payment behavior.
Anyway, since you probably have at least one insurance policy, it’s pretty simple to use that to your credit advantage, almost passively. When you’re building your credit history, every little bit helps.