Every month a credit card company must report a payment or lack there of to the three credit bureas.
Get "guerilla credit repair".
Get all three of your credit reports. Contact transunion, experian and equifax. Make sure all the information is correct and that all the accounts on there are in fact yours. If there are any errors at all, get them corrected. This may take a while.
Satisfy any judgements or debts you have.
Go to bankrate.com. They have good articles for starting off your credit. If you have no credit at all or some problems - you might have to get a "secured" card. A normal credit card gives you a line of credit. A secured card is where you put up your own money, pay an annual fee and can't take out any more than you put up. The rates are high, so if you don't pay it off every month you will incur interest charges on the very money you
put up! However, if you pay your bills on time for a year you will get a history.
You need to build a history. You need at least 4 lines of credit open that you have paid bills on time for at least 6 to 12 months. You might also try some store and gas cards. The rates suck and you can only use them with one retailer, but they help you build a history.
Once you build a history you can get cards with good rates and cancel the old ones.
Never borrow more than one third of your limit.
Always be on time with your bills.
Never just cut up a card. Call and be sure it is cancelled.
** Years ago I was in your situation. But I put up $300 for a secured card. I paid my bills for a year on time. After 6 months I could get a department store card. Now I can get real cards.