January 31st, 2008 Jamie
Now that you know what a credit score is, it’s time to figure out how you can make yours stronger. The nice thing about credit scores is that they’re pretty easy to build–it really doesn’t take a lot of effort on your part.
Here are a couple of ways you can build your credit.
Open a Checking and a Savings Account
You can’t get a credit card until you are 18, but some banks will allow you to open accounts with them at a younger age, so this is a great way to get a head start. You could also consider opening a joint account with an adult if your bank won’t let you open one on your own.
Have a Credit Card
Okay, first of all, credit cards can be dangerous for college students. Once you have one, it’s tempting to use it for anything and everything, and that leads a lot of students into debt. So, my advice would be to get one card (only one!), and use it ONLY OCCASIONALLY and ONLY like a debit card–only spend money you already have in the bank, and pay off your entire balance at the end of each month.
Caution: Paying your card of on time will build your credit. Overspending on your card will put you in debt. Be careful.
Pay Off a Loan
I’m not saying to rush out and get a loan–if you don’t need a loan, don’t get one just to build credit. But, if you already have a loan on a car, or if you have student loans, the simple act of paying your bill on time will help with your credit. Easy!
So, the bottom line on building credit is–Pay your bills on time! That’s basically zero effort, since really you should be doing that anyway.
Having trouble getting everything in order by the payment due date? Check with your bank, credit card company, lender, and other companies you pay bills to, and see if you can set up auto-bill-pay. All you have to do then is make sure you have enough money in your bank account every month, and the company will withdraw the payment for you. (Need to save more money to fill that bank account? Check out these 50 ways to save money in college!)
Entry Filed under: budget & finances