Did you know that when you apply for a job, buy a cell phone plan, purchase a car, apply for car insurance, rent an apartment, apply to turn on electric, gas, cable or home telephone accounts, that your credit is checked? Today, you need good credit for almost everything!
It takes 7 - 10 years for your credit to be re-established and for companies to trust your financial stability if your credit is tarnished...do the math. If you have a low credit score, then you run the risk of not getting the job you want, having to pay more in rent or security deposit for the apartment you want and having to pay higher interest rates when taking out loans for a home or car.
Start now with understanding what credit is and keeping your credit excellent throughout your life. As a college student, you may find the idea of a credit score a bit intimidating since you are becoming financially independent for the first time. However, always remember knowledge is power.
A FICO credit score is a number that represents the likelihood that a person will pay his or her debts. Your credit score is calculated by various factors. A FICO credit score is between 300 and 850. The higher this credit score, the better. Have a FICO credit score of 750 or higher is considered excellent credit.
It is crucial for you to begin building your credit while you are a college student but be very careful! You want to keep your credit in good shape. Use these suggestions to gradually build your credit score and establish a good credit history during your years in college:
1. Live within your means: Don't bite off more than you can chew. It is tempting to purchase things that are expensive when you have credit but be sure to stay within you means and don't overdo it.
2. Open a checking/savings account: Active bank accounts provide you with stable financial history.
3. Pay all of your bills on time: ALL bills should be paid on time.
4. Ask permission to become an authorized user on your parent's credit card: Being on a parent's card helps you to establish credit and your use of the card is reported to the credit bureaus.
5. Apply for your own credit card but be sure you can pay the balance in full the next month: Shop around for a credit card with no annual fee and a low interest rate and use what you can pay in full the following month.
6. Monitor your credit report: Credit agencies can make mistakes, so be sure to review your credit report annually and question any discrepancies. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act gives everyone the right to receive their credit report from three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) free every 12 months. To receive your free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com
Establishing and maintaining a good credit score requires effort and personal discretion. Start today by building a solid credit history that will benefit you in the future.