With mounting student loan debt and limited part time job availability, many college students and recent college graduates are finding it difficult to get a leg up in the financial world without having established credit. Without credit, college students can find it incredibly difficult to perform basic tasks such as renting an apartment and buying a car. The best way to avoid these scenarios is to establish your credit as early as possible. Consider the following important tips to gain established credit while in college, so you can avoid complications in the future.
1. Become an Authorized User of a Parent’s Credit Card Account
To establish your credit before you qualify for your own credit card, look into becoming an authorized user of one of your parent’s credit card accounts to build your credit while having your spending monitored. If your parent has good credit, this usually helps to boost your credit score as well.
2. Get Your Own Credit Card
Once you have established your credit by becoming an authorized user on your parent’s account, you can usually upgrade to your own independent credit card. You will have to meet the specific requirements of the credit card company, which will include providing proof of income. In recent years, credit card companies tend to be stricter about offering credit cards to college students, so having the experience and established credit through your parent’s credit card will certainly put you at an advantage.
3. No Two Credit Cards Are Alike
If you have already decided that you are ready for your own credit card, you will want to make sure to research and compare all of the credit card companies available to choose which is the best plan for you. Consider factors such as interest rates, annual fees, credit limits, and billing policies to determine which company offers the best deal.
4. Prepare with Retail Cards
If you feel like you aren’t quite ready for a credit card yet, a good alternative to build up your credit and prepare for monthly bills, interest rates, and other aspects of owning a credit card is to take advantage of retail cards. Many retail stores today offer retail credit cards to shoppers to bring convenience to their shopping experience. The qualifications for these cards are typically more lenient than those for bank credit cards, so using these cards before applying for a credit card is a good way to prepare yourself while simultaneously building up your credit.
5. Only Use Your Credit Card For Small Expenses
Although you may be on a budget, you can’t expect to build up your credit without actually using your card. Once you have your credit card, don’t get carried away with big expenses on clothes, electronics and restaurant bills. Instead, use it occasionally for small expenses, such as grocery store trips and small household bills that you know you will be able to afford at the end of the month.
6. Pay Off the Entire Balance Each Month
Whether it’s your retail cards or your own personal credit card, it is crucial that you pay off the entire balance each month to avoid paying extra interest and to ensure a good credit score. If you are unable to pay off the balance by the end of the month, you are living beyond your means and should make immediate adjustments to your lifestyle.
7. Pay Off All Additional Bills On Time
Timely payments are another crucial element of establishing good credit. Whether it’s a hospital bill, student loan bill, taxes, or even a small library fee, make sure to pay off all of your debts on time to avoid any late fees, interest hikes and negative effects on your credit.
8. Only Use Student Loans For Educational Purposes
Some college students think it’s okay to take out a little extra on their loans to pay for expenses from entertainment to special items for themselves. Although this may certainly be a tempting prospect for a struggling college student, it is not a financially reasonable decision considering the fact that you will be paying the interest back on these purchases.
9. Never Co-Sign
In general, a co-signer is only required to be at least 21 years of age and have a slightly above average credit score. If you have been following the previous tips, there’s a good chance that you may qualify as a co-signer and your friends and family members may want to take advantage of this. Although you may want to help out your friends, you simply can’t afford to ruin your credit from their mistakes.
10. Try to Limit Yourself to One Credit Card
Although having multiple credit cards may seem like a good way to quickly build up your credit, the reality is that applying for several credit cards reflects negatively on your credit. Not only does it effect your credit negatively, but having multiple credit cards increases the temptation and risk of overspending. Reasonably, a college student should not need more than one credit card.
Thanks to Payless Power a Houston Electricity Company