Credit Tips for College Grads

Congratulations college grads! Having good credit can open a lot of doors for your future. It can help you get that lease on your first apartment, put you behind the wheel of a sweet ride – and may even help you land your first professional position! Keep in mind that many companies today will pull your credit as part of their background checks.

Check out these credit tips to help you make the grade with future lenders!

Limit the number of credit cards you have.

  • Open one or two that are versatile enough to use to buy clothes, food, gas, etc., and start using them…cautiously. No shopping sprees allowed! Maxing out your cards, or getting too close to your limits, will lower your credit scores. Keeping your balances at 30 percent or less of the limits on your cards can help your scores.
  • If you can’t yet qualify for your own credit card or loan, you may be able to piggyback off your parents’ good credit history by becoming an Authorized User on your parents’ account – or have them co-sign on a loan, lease, etc.

Pay your bills on time!

  • Make small charges that you can afford to pay back each month. Your credit history will build as you pay down your balances in full every month.
  • Responsible payment history is the biggest factor in building good credit. A single late payment reported by your creditors can lower your credit scores and will stay on your credit reports for seven years.
  • Set reminders on your phone when your credit card payment is due. If you can’t pay the entire balance off every month – at least send more than the minimum amount due.
  • Set up automatic bill payments through your bank’s website. Using auto-pay for your car loan, utilities, rent, etc., is a great way to ensure your bills are paid on time, every month. NOTE: You may also be able to set up auto-pay directly through a creditor’s website, if you prefer.

Check your credit reports for changes.

  • Make sure your payments are accurately reported. If a creditor mistakenly reports your on-time payment as “late”, you can easily file an online dispute to protect your scores.
  • If you see an account you didn’t open or other suspicious activity, someone could’ve hacked your identity.

FACT: Checking your own credit does not hurt your credit scores!

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