Money makes our world go ‘round, and while college students seem to have less of it than the rest of the population, it is just as important. Between paying bills, buying groceries and gas, we never seem to have enough.
To many college students, the idea of building credit is stressful and mysterious. What even is credit? How do you build credit? When do you start?
“It’s very important to start building credit as early as possible,” said Jacob Lunduski, the director of community outreach at Credit Card Insider. “Your credit history has a big impact on your future. That is, as long as you are building your credit, not destroying it!”
If you’re wondering how you can start building your credit now, you’ve come to the right place.
This is News You Can Use with a guide to credit cards.
Do I Need a Credit Card?
Many students are under the impression that avoiding credit cards at all costs is the best thing you can do to stay out of trouble. If you know you have bad spending habits this may be true, but the majority of students are losing valuable time that they could use building credit.
Credit history is not only important for getting approved for credit cards, but also loans, and even phone plans. It also has an influence on renting an apartment, getting insurance, and even a job!
“By building credit responsibly at a young age, you’ll also learn how your credit reports and scores work. This creates great financial habits, which builds the success for your financial future,” said Lunduski.
Credit cards also have other benefits to students that simply paying with cash doesn’t. This includes points toward other purchases, a percentage of cash back, or miles every time you use the credit card. Using a credit card to make purchases can also increase security of your purchases and provide services like extended warranties and insurance on traveling costs.
Which Card Should I Get?
The benefits of having and using a credit card are obvious, but deciding which one to apply for is more challenging. With what seems like millions of credit card options to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one is the best fit for you. Credit card companies actually offer student credit cards designed specifically to fit the lifestyle of most students. Most student cards are designed for individuals with little to no established credit, and have no annual fees, so they’re free to own.
Credit Card Insider recommends credit cards like Discover It, Bank of America Cash Rewards™ for Students Card, and Deserve Edu Mastercard. It’s best to choose a card with benefits that fit your specific lifestyle.
How Do I Build Credit?
To understand what building credit means, you need to understand the credit score. A credit score is a number that indicates your risk as a borrower and the likelihood that you will pay your bills. Each time you pay a bill on time, whether it be for energy, your phone, or a credit card statement, your credit score will remain positive. Building your credit score means you are showing borrowers that you pay your bills off on time. The higher your score is, the higher confidence the borrower has in your ability to pay off your bills.
Credit Card Insider stresses the importance of paying off your new credit card balance in full each month by the due date. It is also important to consider a credit card purchase as the same as being made with money that you have in your possession right now. It is very easy to spend more than you can pay off, which leads to debt and high interest costs.
Credit Card Insider is a great online source of thorough information about responsibly using credit cards. Along with in-depth reviews of cards, they explain how you can make the most out of each card, and even have a chat feature to answer any question or help direct you in the right direction.
The University of Nevada, Reno, also has a great resource for students called Nevada Money Mentors. The program, sponsored by Greater Nevada Credit Union, hosts workshops, presentations and in-class sessions to help students gain financial knowledge and resources. The NV Money Mentors even offer one-on-one advising to help students make personalized budgets, answer questions, and guide them through the process of building credit.
“It’s a fast transition through college and into the real world, which I can attest to,” said Lunduski. “Having this knowledge as early as possible can be a great asset.”
Emily Fisher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.