This post is all about how to build your credit as a college student!
Secured vs Unsecured Account?
When it comes to getting a credit card, the first thing to address is what type of account should you open on behalf of yourself or with someone else on your behalf. There are two main types: secured and unsecured accounts. Secured accounts require a deposit from the individual going into the account. Which will then be used as collateral if there is any kind of negative action taken against that account holder.
Unsecured accounts don’t require any sort of upfront money from the individual starting the account, but they are riskier. For new credit holders, a secured account can be a good idea because it ensures that you have money in the bank to back up your credit if anything happens.
Related post: How To Build An Emergency Fund In College
How to build your credit as a college student?
It’s never too soon to start building your credit score. While it’s not as important in college, a good credit score can help you get loans for cars and houses after graduation. Here are some tips on how to build your credit as a college student.
1) Stay updated on your credit score
To do so, check the three major bureaus- Experian, TransUnion, Equifax-to make sure there are no errors or mistakes with any of your accounts. If there are, dispute them right away so they don’t affect your credit rating later on. And since you’re entitled to a free credit report from these three reporting bureaus each year. Take advantage of it and use it to keep an eye on your credit score!
2) Pay bills on time
If you already have a bank account, make sure you pay your bills on time and don’t use more than 30% of your available credit. This will help build a good credit score before college starts! Moreover, credit limits are established by banks to protect their customers’ financial security and to prevent them from excessive debt. So it’s always good to stay under the credit limit.
3) Sign up for a student card
Once you get to college, think about signing up for a student card if your school offers one. Make sure you only use the card for small items that you can pay off immediately. And then try to pay it off each month. Doing this will show the bank that not only are you responsible, but you’re also financially trustworthy!
4) Become an authorized user
Having your mom or dad add you as an authorized user on their credit card can be a simple and less risky way to start building your own credit. Even though you won’t be the primary borrower, if something happens to them or they can’t pay off their bills, this will help build your credit score!
5) Take advantage of rewards
Make sure you check with your school to see if they offer any incentives for using a credit card. Like discounts or rebates. Sometimes you can get up to 10% off of your purchases if you use your student card!
6) Consider a secured credit card
If you don’t have any credit yet, sometimes banks offer cards for people who don’t have much credit history yet. Such as a secured credit card. A secured credit card is typically issued by a bank or other financial institution in which the customer deposits money as collateral for the account balance. Once this deposit has been made, the customer should use the secured card responsibly and pay off their monthly statement in order to establish a positive payment history. Which might eventually lead to a higher unsecured line of credit with better terms from potential lenders down the road.
Is a 700 credit score good for a college student?
A credit score is a number that represents how well you have managed your past financial obligations. The higher the score, the better you have handled credit in the past. A 700-credit score is considered good for a college student because it means they will likely continue to be able to manage their finances responsibly in the future.
6 Credit card mistakes you don’t want to make!
Credit cards are often the first line of defense against financial emergencies. But while they can be a lifesaver, they can also lead you down a slippery slope of debt. The good news is that there are steps you can take to minimize the chances that your credit card will turn into an albatross around your neck.
The bad news is that some people make these mistakes without even realizing it:
1) Overestimating the value of rewards
Cash back and points are bonuses that can help you save. ut they won’t change your financial situation if you don’t have the money to pay off your balance every month. This is especially true if you’ve accrued high-interest rates on multiple cards. If this is the case, pay down your cards one at a time until you’re back at square one without the high-interest rates.
2) Not shopping around before applying for a card
Some credit card companies offer really good deals with low-interest rates and low annual fees, while others are predatory lenders that will charge exorbitant interest rates if you even miss a payment. If you’re responsible, then apply for the best deal that you can get and pay your bills on time every month to avoid finance charges.
3) Only using your credit card in one store
If you don’t take advantage of credit card loyalty programs, you could be missing out on discounts and rewards from stores that aren’t your usual hangout. Shops like Walmart, Target, Macy’s, and Best Buy offer special discounts for cardholders so you can save money while shopping.
4) Forgetting to check your balance:
Without a monthly statement arriving in the mail it can be easy to forget about your credit card account and not keep track of how much is owed. If you only remember when the statement arrives in the mail months later that there is an outstanding balance. Then you could face some hefty interest charges that put even more of a strain on your budget.
5) Making only the minimum payment each month:
Most credit card companies allow you to pay off your balance in full each month without penalty. But they also provide an option for paying just the minimum required amount due. While this doesn’t appear like a big deal, paying only the minimum each month can make a huge difference to your budget. As it means that you may never pay off the principal amount due.
6) Not understanding how much interest is charged:
Getting a credit card often comes with an offer for a low or zero percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for six months or so. If you’re not careful with your budget, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security that paying back the minimum each month means that everything is okay. However, if you don’t pay off your balance in full before the 0% period runs out. Then you could end up paying interest at a much higher APR.
Start building your credit today!
There you have it, tips on how to build your credit as a college student as well as credit card mistakes to avoid. I hope this post was helpful in answering some of your questions about credit!