No matter who you are, a good credit score is essential to your financial well-being. Without it, you’ll be unable to afford a home, a vehicle, or an education.

If you’re just starting out, building credit can seem like a paradox.

But that’s not the reality. There are several venues to start building a positive credit score, even if you have no credit or bad credit. Here are seven of the best ways to start building credit.

The Best Ways to Start Building Credit

The best way to start credit is to rely on your friends and family or a beginner’s credit program. These, along with smart borrowing habits, will help establish a healthy credit score. Check out some of the great suggestions below.

1. Apply for a Starter Credit Card

Some credit cards are specifically made for new borrowers. For example, almost anyone can qualify for a secured credit card. Unlike a normal credit card, a security deposit determines the credit line of your account.

If you’d like to avoid the extra cost of opening a secured credit card, consider a student credit card instead. These are available to most college students and feature small lines of credit.

Shop around and compare offers for credit cards. You might find one that works for you.

2. Become an Authorized User

Rather than opening your own credit card, a friend or family member could authorize you to use theirs. Since your name is on the account, you’ll begin establishing a credit profile even if you don’t actively use the card.

3. Don’t Miss a Payment

Getting a beginner’s line of credit is only half the battle. If you fail to make payments on time, it will adversely affect your credit score. Make sure you keep an eye on your monthly credit card payments, or you’ll be worse off than if you had no credit at all.

4. Try a Credit-Builder Loan

Just as some credit cards exist for beginners, some banks offer loans for building credit. Credit unions are the main source of these credit-builder loans.

Unlike a normal loan, you receive the borrowed money after paying it off. Because of this, it’s more like a savings account than an actual loan.

5. Get a Co-Signer

Having trouble qualifying for a credit card or loan? Your family can help by co-signing for the line of credit.

This increases your odds of approval because it gives the bank collateral. If you miss your payments, the co-signer will be liable for the debt.

6. Borrow Small Amounts

Staying away from large loans is about more than the risk of missing a payment. Maybe you can make the monthly payments, but you can’t keep up with the interest. Being unable to pay down your debt will harm your budding credit score.

Avoid this by using safe borrowing habits and avoid falling in debt.

7. Be Patient

Your credit isn’t going to improve overnight. It takes time to establish a good credit history. Plus, the longer you have a line of credit, the better your credit score.

Realize that it might be a year or more before you have a true credit score. And since you’re just starting out, it’s not going to be stellar. Continue borrowing responsibly, and soon your credit lines — and credit score — will improve.

Trying to Improve Your Finances?

These are the best ways to start building credit, but there’s more to finances than a good credit score. Are you interested in improving your financial situation?

Check out the finance section for more monetary advice that can have you seeing green.