As a student with a fixed income, I’ve been tempted with credit cards. I even have three, although the limits are rather small and aren’t maxed out. But one of the biggest problems I’ve seen is that people don’t know what they’re getting themselves into, which nowadays, I think is ridiculous. There’s so much information out there so you can be educated on credit and not get yourself in too deep.
It may not be fair that credit is an important part of society now, most people can’t buy a television without it, let alone a car or a house. Credit scores are even looked at during the employment process. Nonetheless, you should still be smart about borrowing money or you’ll end up paying way more than you should.
Credit Me is a large website that has an incredible amount of information about credit cards. They have a list of resources, FAQ’s and my favorite, the Ultimate Guide to Perfect Credit. Also, they have a list of student (and other) credit cards comparing the rates and terms of each one and listing what kind of credit you need to be approved (good, bad, none.)
Tips to build your credit without hurting it first
- Don’t apply for too much credit at once – this will hurt your score
- If you take advantage of 0% APR grace periods, which is okay to do, be careful of the fees you’ll incur afterward. Sometimes they’re awful.
- Don’t take out cash advances. If you really need cash for something, use the money you’d otherwise spend on food, CDs, etc. that’s in your bank account and put those purchases on your card. Regular interest is better than cash advance interest no matter how you look at it.
- Don’t simply apply for a card just because they’re giving away free t-shirts. You might miss a $50 yearly fee because you’re distracted with presents.
- If you can’t get credit anywhere else, try a in-store credit card at a store you frequent, but only after carefully looking over the terms. Put a small amount on the card, pay it off at the end of the month to avoid interest. Do it again each month for the next six months and apply for a better card somewhere else.
- Remember, that if your score is low, there’s nowhere else to go but up. If you play the game right, you can have great credit without paying too much to the companies.