How to Build Credit with a Co-Signer

by Lea Barton ; Updated July 27, 2017

Credit is something everyone needs at some point in life. You may need credit to purchase a car, a home or a boat. You may even need it to take a vacation, pay for medical expenses or home renovations. The important thing to know is that you can’t really get the credit you need in the future if you do not build your good credit now. You have to earn your creditworthiness by using credit. Pay your bills and credit cards on time every month to show that you are dependable, reliable and responsible when it comes to finances. The best way to begin building credit is to have a co-signer vouch for you. Companies may not want to give you credit if you have no credit history, but they will base your creditworthiness on the credit of the co-signer when the two of you sign for a loan. They are more likely to extend you credit. That will result in building great credit for yourself if you keep up with payments.

Step 1

Find an item you want to purchase on credit. It can be as small as an article of clothing or as large as a car.

Step 2

Get a co-signer. Usually a co-signer is a parent or family member who wants to help you begin to build credit. He will let you piggyback on his creditworthiness.

Step 3

Discuss the impact that co-signing may have on his credit. If you die, become disabled or in any way are unable to pay the loan, the co-signer is 100% responsible for the debt.

Step 4

Apply for the credit together. You will need to give your personal information and social security number. Your co-signer will need to do this as well.

Step 5

Get a credit check with one of the main credit agencies: Transunion, Experian or Equifax. Your credit--and that of your co-signer--will be thoroughly checked. See the links to these agencies in the Resources section.

Step 6

Sign the credit paperwork. Both you and the co-signer will sign the paperwork and documents. These will agree that you owe this debt and will pay it back.

Step 7

Watch your credit build. You can monitor your credit report. Watch your credit score rise as the credit granting company reports positive information about you to the credit reporting agencies.


  • Over time, you can ask to have the co-signer removed from the loan if you want to build independent credit. The loan agency will review your financial information to make sure that you can handle the loan on your own.


  • Make sure you pay on time every month. Even one month late can damage your credit record and that of your co-signer.

About the Author

Lea Barton has been writing since 1989, with over 2,000 articles in print and online for such publications as "Today's Parent," "Boston Globe Magazine", and Associated Content. She attended Harvard University's Extension School, completing courses in creative writing and German.