Extra Credit: How to build credit as a freelancer
Building credit as a freelancer or solo business owner isn’t easy. You may have to jump through a few extra hoops to obtain a mortgage or get a loan, but you can do a few things to help the application process go more smoothly.
A quick overview on credit: Your credit score is based on several variables including payment history, amounts owed, how long you’ve had credit, new credit, and a mix of credit products. As a freelancer, it’s important to keep tabs on your score.
You can order one free credit report from each of the three national credit reporting bureaus every year.
Here are a few tips for building and maintaining your credit reputation:
Pay all of your existing obligations, including loans and credit cards, on time.
Be meticulous when you report your income on your taxes. You may be able to use your tax return in lieu of an employment record when applying for a loan or other credit.
Collect proof to verify your income. Unlike a traditional employee, you can’t just show your W-2’s, but you can use past tax returns to verify your income. Bank or savings account statements can also be great leverage for a loan, provided you’ve been a smart saver.
Pay down as much debt as you can—but don’t close those credit accounts. If you’re using less credit than you have, you’ll actually improve your credit score.
Build credit through your monthly bills. Certain services allow you to leverage those regular bills (ie: rent, electricity, phone, etc.) to increase your credit score.
Become your own employer by authenticating your business or becoming an LLC. Not only does this enable you to pay yourself like a traditional employee but to qualify for certain tax benefits as well.
Take out a credit card in your company’s name. There are many advantages to opening business credit versus personal credit, including promotional interest rates.
Ultimately, separating your personal and your business finances—especially where credit is concerned—can be healthy for both your mind and your wallet.
Need help organizing your records and keeping track of your income? Learn how other freelancers do it in the Tips for Efficient & Accurate Record Keeping Hive.