Building and maintaining good credit is more important today than ever. Whether we realize it or not, so many parts of our daily financial lives revolve around our credit scores. But don’t fret – abide by these five must know credit tips for students and you shouldn’t have any problems at all.
1. Start a Credit History
The best way to start your credit history off on the right foot is to keep it natural and realistic. Go ahead and open up savings and checking accounts – you’ll need them. Next, try starting off with a student credit card. Use it only to make purchases that you’d make anyway and then pay it off in full and on time each month with the funds from your checking account. Your credit worthiness will gradually begin to grow just by conducting everyday transactions.
2. Stick to One Credit Card
If you’re using your credit card only to make planned purchases and paying it off each month, chances are, having one credit card is all you’ll ever need. Sure, the limits start off fairly low, but they will rise as you make purchases and pay the bills on time. Know that having more than one credit card as a college student statistically has a history of leading to credit troubles.
3. Live On a Budget
This is probably one of the most important credit tips for students there is. Write down all of your monthly expenses at the beginning of every month in the order of what you’ll need to pay first. Use your income to pay the items according to priority and be sure not to spend any money at all outside of these categories until all expenses are paid first. Actually writing everything down helps reinforce your understanding of your own individual financial picture and does help prevent unnecessary impulse buys that often snowball and cause credit problems later.
4. Financial Responsibility Counts
Yes, you have to make that credit card payment on time! Paying bills isn’t quite as fun as spending money in the first place, but your credit will be badly damaged for many years to come if bills are paid late or not at all. It’s always better to pay a week early than one second late. Just as important as paying the credit card bill on time is keeping well within the confines of your credit card’s limit.
5. Check Your Credit Reports Often
Just because you’re a student and probably only have just begun your credit history recently doesn’t mean that you’re not a target for identity thieves. Seeing your financial picture from all perspectives is essential to building a lifetime of good credit. Everyone is eligible to check copies of their credit report for free each year. Try checking one of the major three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union) once every four months to make sure there’s no funny business happening at your expense.
Damaged credit will severely hinder everything from the purchase of a home later on in life to the amount you’ll pay for car insurance. Credit affects practically everything these days, so control your credit score by actually taking advantage of these credit tips for students instead of letting your credit rating control you!