You don't need a credit card to boost your credit score.

Whether you're applying for a mortgage, looking to rent an apartment, or shopping around for an auto loan, there's one number that will dictate whether or not you're approved: your credit score. That's why you want your credit to be as strong as possible, and a good way to get there is to open a credit card.

How do credit cards help credit scores? For one thing, if you pay yours on time every month, you'll boost your payment history, which is the most critical of five factors that go into determining your score. Having a credit card can also help bring down your credit utilization ratio, which is the second most important component of your score.

But while credit cards can help your credit, they can also open the door to uncontrolled spending. Case in point: As of late 2016, the average American household was carrying about $16,000 in credit card debt. Therefore, if you can't trust yourself to use a credit card responsibly, you're better off not opening one and building credit another way. Here are some options in that regard.

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