College is a time of transition, where students are expected to begin their journey into successful adult life. Generations of students have gone through college and successfully set up financial stability, now is the time to begin.
Creating a healthy credit to build upon as one gets older is detrimental to being qualified for things like a home, auto or any other type of loan. There are many simple ways to begin to grow credit during college.
Each person has a unique credit report filed by the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. This report is built upon any borrowing history like owning a credit card or using a loan.
From the credit report comes a credit rate, which is an arbitrary number between 300 and 850. Higher credit scores means better spending and credit habits, while lower credit scores are typically owned by people who are just beginning to build credit.
College students can begin the credit history process by opening a credit card and using it responsibly. Credit cards essentially allow users to temporarily borrow money with the promise of paying it back. Making responsible decisions like only spending as much as you have and making payments on time.
Many college students use student loans to both build credit and get a college education. Borrowing money through a loaning company or bank automatically appears on a credit report. An article from Credit Karma recommends using a federal student loan compared to a privatized loan company which might require a credit score to qualify for a loan.
College students who don’t need student loans and are not ready to make the step towards a credit card may also look into becoming an authorized spender on a parent or guardian's credit card. Becoming an authorized spender gives the new user the same ability to spend money using the credit card while the primary cardholder continues to be responsible for making payments.
According to Investopedia, this is a great option for individuals who have little to no credit as long as the primary user of the card has responsible spending habits. If the primary card holder makes late payments or no payments at all, the authorized user could see a fall in their credit score. Similarly, if the authorized user is creating charges on the credit card and refusing to pay the primary user, both credit scores may go down.
Regardless of choice of credit builder, it is important to understand the terms of borrowing when trying to create or maintain good credit. Depending on the contract, credit cards and loans may be less forgiving about late or missed payments. Consistently making late payments or missing payments can result in owing more money while also causing a negative report in a credit report.
Building credit is important for better financial stability later on when looking to borrow money for larger investments. Learning more about credit at a younger age can also help create a better awareness for financial stability.