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It’s a common belief that building good credit is as simple as getting a credit card, charging onto it, and paying it off each month.

Unfortunately, the process of getting established with positive credit habits takes more than just charging. By applying for new cards each year or signing up for every promotional card you receive in the mail, you risk opening yourself up to damaging your credit by being overextended.

Once you have established a positive credit history, you need to continue the good habits that brought you there. However, with these tips in mind, you will be able to build and maintain a good credit report without damaging it or overextending yourself.

  1. Co-Sign on Loans with Care

You can establish good credit by co-signing on loans with individuals who are also establishing themselves. Doing so can prove to be beneficial for both parties involved and will allow you to build a relationship based on trust and understand the responsibilities that accompany each party’s role.

  1. Keep Your Credit Use Low

Once you have had a card for at least a year and know how to use it responsibly, go ahead and apply for another one. You will want to keep your balances low — less than 10% of the limit and never higher than 30%.

  1. Pay Off Your Balance(s) Every Month

This is very important! You can check your credit score for free once a year at Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. The more you use the card responsibly and consistently pay it off in full, the better you will do.

  1. Use a Starter Credit Card

This is a card that only has the minimum limit and you should be able to pay it off easily. Once you are comfortable with this, look into getting another, better credit card. You will improve your score by showing your history of using the cards responsibly and paying them in full.

With the right steps, you can build and establish a positive credit history that will benefit you in the long run. The key is to be patient; it won’t happen overnight.