Farnoosh Torabi in live chat: How do teens build credit?

Farnoosh Torabi, a recurring Money 911 panelist and author of "Psych Yourself Rich," joined us for a live Web chat Wednesday morning after the show's Money 911 segment.

Here are two of her answers to questions from the live chat. See below for the full Q&A and video of the Money 911 segment. 

Question from a guest:

I have already gotten my once a year free credit report, where can I safely get another one?

Answer from Farnoosh:

After getting your free credit reports from the 3 major credit reporting bureaus once a year (by visiting, there's no other way to another one without paying Equifax, Transunion or Experian for additional access.

But there are several websites where you can check the health of your credit status like,, These are free but don't include as much detailed information as the credit reports coming directly from the credit reporting agencies. 

Question from Bella:

What do you suggest for teens -- I'm 18 -- to start to do to build credit? I'll be entering college in the fall and I'm clueless as to what to do in terms of financial savings or spending properly. 

Answer from Farnoosh:

Excellent question! Just an FYI -- you can no longer qualify for a credit card if you're under the age of 21 unless you have a cosigner on the card (like a parent) or have proof of income. So a few options for you, as you hope to get ahead financially at a young age:

1. Don't stress about getting a credit card. Get a debit card attached to a checking/savings account and learn to live within your means.

2. Get a job that won't interfere with your class schedules. Making money in college is a great way to not only get work experience but to help you start saving.

3. Understand your student loan obligations now. If you have student loans, meet or speak with your financial aid officer about what your repayment plan will look like upon graduation. Get mentally prepared.

4. Open a secured card. This is like a credit card but it's for people who can't qualify for a credit card either due to age or a bad credit history. You load the card with your own money, use the card like a credit card and pay the balance off each month. Make sure the bank reports the activity to the credit reporting agencies so that you can start building credit. 

Complete archive:

If you have a question for our TODAY Money experts, submit it here.

To sign up for an e-mail reminder for our next chat, click here.

Watch this week's Money 911 segment: