How To Build Credit 101

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You’re 18 years old and you’re ready to play the lucrative miles game!

Only problem, you’ve applied for some great-sounding credit cards and have been rejected.

Don’t worry, those rejections won’t hurt you in the future.

It’s easy to build up your credit history to get any card you desire.

Method 1:

This way is really easy. Unfortunately it will stop working sometime soon, so get a move on if you want to do it!

All you need to do is ask one of your parents to add you to their oldest credit card with a high credit line that is clear of any delinquent payments. On most cards is shouldn’t cost a penny to add someone as a secondary user.

The key is for your parents to make sure to add you as an authorized user and to supply the credit card issuer with your social security number.

You never even need to use your new card, just wait 60-90 days and then apply for an easy to get credit card, like the Starwood AMEX, and you should be approved without any problems.

Method 2:

This takes a little more work, but it’s fairly simple as well.

Open up a store-issued credit card. Good ones that are available nationwide are ones from GAP or Macy’s. They are very easy to get approved, and they are fee-free.

Store cards are generally only valid at the chain that you apply for. (Although the GAP card will also work at Banana Republic and Old Navy)

Just make a few small purchases on it for 3 months and then apply for a real credit card. You shouldn’t have any trouble getting approved.

Of course don’t forget to pay your bill on time, or else it will be a long time until you get approved for a real credit card!

Good luck, and enjoy the credit card mileage game while it lasts!

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32 Comments On "How To Build Credit 101"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

Wow Dan, that was quick.
Thanks for posting this so quickly after I asked for it.
I actually just got approved for a HASadvantage Visa card from U.S. Bank. There’s no annual fee, and they approved me. Thats the 2 reasons why I picked them. What would you recommend as a second time cc? After I have this for 3 months, what should i apply for? Which starwood Amex are you reffering to?
Also, if I apply for a card and get turned down, how long do I have to wait to reapply?

thanks so much, u is the best…


how bad does it effect your credit when you get declined?


How many cards do you recommend we get? If we’re approved for 100, should we get them all??? Doesn’t it hurt our score to have so many?


How about the option of getting one of those Credit Cards where you pay a security deposit of like $500 and then you can spend upto your $500 at a time (I think some banks like Bank of America offer it; I don’t remeber what thos type of Cards are called…)? I think that would also be a good option as you are easily approved and it builds your credit…


how do u play the millage game? i would like to start collecting millage. Thanks for ur help!


-Getting declined isn’t a factor in your credit score.

-In the short term opening numerous cards simultaneously will have a detrimental effect on your score.

In the long term having more total credit and a low utilization of your available credit are very beneficial for your credit score.
Additionally, the negative effect of opening a credit card goes away after about 6 months.

I don’t recommend applying for too many cards in a short period, especially when you’re just starting.

I have found applying for about 2 new cards a month to be a happy medium between balancing one’s credit score and earning a good amount of miles for opening new cards.

You are referring to a secured credit card. These are usually very expensive, and don’t prove to creditors that you can pay back items bought on credit.
That is why I didn’t recommend them as a method of building one’s score.


Target is very easy to get approved for, and its a visa that works anywhere. I know a few people who got it wit no credit history


I didn’t know that Dan, thanks. Personally I have no problem at this point but I’d like to share my first Credit Card experiance for the benefit of others.

I was a student here in the states at the age of 18 and got my Social Security Number only then! (It was easier then for a non citizen student to obtain one.) I applied soon after for the Capital One CC and I believe that they had then some kind of Student CC which is what I got with only a $300 credit limit but it’s been up hill since then.

I looked today on their website and could not find any Card that said “student” or the like but I did notice that they have a section for people that had a “Limited Credit History”. Here is a link to the one card in that section that has no annual fee:

Good luck…


is it safe to have numerous credit cards? will canceling them ruin my score?

Yossi W.

About two years ago I could not get credit, even from Dillards, because I had no credit background at all. (and getting a student card is a pain in the neck IMHO)

I went and got a secured credit card from Orchard Bank HSBC with a $200 deposit which was my credit line. That worked great and I was able to get my current Chase Freedom card after about 6 months with no problem. Also, every once in a while they raise my credit score.

I also opened the HAS Advantage card but my Chase card has a better rewards program I think so I haven’t used it yet.

I did the deal Dan the Man recommended with Identity Monitor from CitiBank and my credit score is so far at about 710, B”H…

This is just one way to build your credit. Plus, if you put all your purchases on your card – even if you have the cash – you get the reward points, which is awesome.


Dan, it seems like you look for cards that have miles as incentives, rather than cash or gift cards or iPods, etc.

But if you get a card for each airline, you’ll have a few miles with each, but not enough for a flight. Do you convert miles from one airline to another?

Maybe you can make a similar how-to post for earning miles?


Dan. You never touched upon the sunject of taxes and the IRS. One who has no job but constantly has cash coming in and out of his account etc. as well as one who earns money in the stock market as well as intrest in savings account or cd. Do all these things have to be declared? is there a minimum that you have to make before even filing for taxes? do you have to prove that you make under that amount? do you have to wait until the IRS contacts you???? Information on this subject would be greatly appreciated.


what i did was, i got a student credit card. citi cards does it with visa. they started me offf with a 1000 credit line. just about 2 years later they have highered the credit line to under 4000 and i have a good credit. Consequently now i have many different cards including the most recent ones which gave me free tickets, one with American the other with delta airlines.


btw method one only applies to 2/3 credit agencies. 1 of them, dont remember which, stopped doing that in september.


i agree with stern didnt you say dan that your an accountant


a post on taxes and irs would be amazing and super helpful


I never knew that people who dont work have to pay taxes. To me it makes no sence and I dont think its lawful to make poor people pay tax.


I opened a student checking account at bank of america (crown heights branch) and the rep asked if she can sign me up with a credit card, I said yes and got a credit line of $500. then I sent 3 other people to do the same and they all got the card. some of them got credit lines of $700. so its a grate way to start credit (I think its the student thing).


I have couple cards already i got for just miles does it hurt my credit to cancel and how bad will it affect me ?


Does the first method still work? (Being added to parents card). And if both methods are used simultaneously, would that improve chances or be detrimental?


Dan I spoke to a rep at Amex and said that its not true an authorized user on a card does not help you get credit on a card even if you give the social number, Dan you me a reply to this one cause you waisted my time in the past couple of months as I thought I was building my credit.


He’s wrong.


yay for me, i finally got my first Amex!! (graduating from CapitalOne, and a Target Card)


my wife has no credit to speak of, i applied for a united explorer card and after calling the recon department she gpt approved! how did this happen?

Yitz Weiss

Dan, awesome seminar tonight in Teaneck! Thanks so much!
Question: you mentioned tonight about building credit by becoming an authorized user on someone’s already established account. You said it can be done even without a ss# being added to the account (in the blog above it says they do need a ss#). I have clients who are looking to repair bad credit. If there’s a way for them to piggyback on someone’s established credit without negatively impacting them that would be very helpful. However, if their bad-credit-ss# gets added to the good-credit-account it will bring the good account down.

IS there a way to do this without linking a ss#? Or do you know of some other way to accomplish the same thing?

Thanks again for all you do!

Y.S Stern

Hi Dan,

Quick question. Does the first method you mentioned in this article still work? The bank my parents use is Chase (if that even makes a difference)

Hope you reply 🙂

P.S: The reason for me asking this is because the article was written a nice couple of years ago and things might of changed.


I like yitz Weiss’s question
If you add someone with bad credit to a credit card ..will it badly affect the original persons credit or credit score


I’ve been building my credit score since the beggining of the year. I started with a Bank Of America Cash Rewards card and have been doing the payments every month on time. Also even if i spent a lot in a month i made sure to make the balance really small (like a dollar) before the billing date came.

My question is if you think it is foolish to apply for a really good card like a Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature? Just scared I may not have a good enough score to be accepted based on the fact that I only started building credit in January.

Hope to hear back from anyone who could help!


@Yitz Weiss:

A much easier way to get a quick response is to post on the dansdeal forum. [Typically you’ll get a response between 1 and 60 minutes]


Hey there,

“The key is for your parents to make sure to add you as an authorized user and to supply the credit card issuer with your social security number”

I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and just tried to add someone but they don’t take his social, but they said it will still be reported to the bureau… does anyone know if that’s good enough? Thanks!


Hi, I recall reading a while ago something about applying for several Credit Cards at the same time in order to only have 1 hard inquiry.
Is it a good idea for a beginner to use this method to try his luck with several cards during his first ever application for a credit card? The goal here is just to have a decent credit card or two immediately, in order to take advantage of benefits such as extended warranties, insurance and the like, and to keep building a credit score, with no specific need for miles/points right now. If a credit card is obtained immediately there will be no need to open another CC within the next few months so I suppose a hard hit and being declined couldn’t cause much damage…
If this is a good idea, could someone please direct me to instructions on how to do it? I don’t want to mistakenly hit the button to pull my my credit on one site while the other site isn’t ready, if you know what I mean.

Thank you!