Consumer Comeback Blog

How to Build Credit in College

Written By: Stella Walker

Building good credit in college is a realistic possibility if you understand the rules and spend responsibly. But, if you have any inkling that you aren’t ready to take on a credit card, then wait until you’re financially comfortable. For those who are ready for the next step, here are some helpful tips to building credit in college.

Become an authorized user on parents’ account

One of the quickest ways to build good credit in college is to become an authorized user on your parent’s account. This allows teenagers to get acquainted with a credit card and learn how to use it responsibly, while the parent monitors their spending. The student can build credit as long as he or she doesn’t go over the credit limit and if the parent maintains good credit. For students under the age of 21, this may be the only way to get approved for a credit card unless they can prove that they’re capable of paying off balances on their own.

Open your own credit card

Another effective but riskier way of building credit is to open up your own credit card. Students who are financially responsible and can provide proof of income may get approved for a card in their name. Unless you have a co-signer, you will be held solely responsible for any debt that you accumulate. The best way to stay in control of your credit card is to make small purchases and never miss a payment deadline. Another tip to building good credit in college is to try not to carry a balance on the card. Since you probably won’t be using your card for big, expensive purchases, you need to make sure that you pay off the entire balance when it’s due. This will keep you from paying a fee and acquiring interest charges.

Pay your other bills on time

A less obvious way to build and maintain good credit is to pay all of your other bills on time. Whether it’s rent, utility, cable or a phone bill, you may be able to develop a credit score by just paying these monthly bills on time. Many landlords and businesses have started reporting to credit bureaus about an individual’s payments and timeliness. Even taxes, traffic tickets and library fees can make a big difference to your credit. Practicing responsible bill paying will prepare you to take on a credit card one day.

This post was contributed by Stella Walker.

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