Time is one of the most valuable aspects of investment. Investing in your future by saving here and there can get you far. Despite this, some of the necessitates of life that follow adulthood, including a car, an apartment or house, or a loan for graduate school, require credit checks. We have all seen the commercials about how to check our credit score online, free and easy from the three major bureaus that include Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. But how does an incoming college student, or current college student build up this so called credit? The process itself is simple, but carrying it out is easier said than done.
The easiest way t build credit is to buy a credit card and use it. Sounds easy right. But paying the bill on time and knowing your limit are huge responsibilities that one may not be ready to face. I advise you to strongly consider these responsibilities before proceeding.
Step 1: Apply for a Secure Line Credit Card
What? A secure line credit card usually requires a monetary down payment ranging from $250 to typically $5,000. The less you have to spend, the less temptation you will face, so I suggest applying for the minimum. After a probationary period, that can range from 1 year to typically three years, you will receive back your “security” or down payment.
You can open one of these accounts at many of the nation’s larger banks such as TD Bank, Bank of America, or People’s United Bank.
You will usually need you drivers license, a second form of identification, and if you are not yet 18, a parent or guardian’s signature. Some banks require a cosigner, and you best bet would also be your parent or guardian.
After, you have prepared and made a decision about what bank and what card you would like to apply for, you should proceed to the bank and apply. Be sure to READ ALL the terms and conditions and ask the person assisting you any question you may have, regardless if it sounds unintelligible in your head. You are a customer and it is their job to help accommodate you and help you understand their bank’s specific policies.
Step 2: Wait to Be Approved
When you receive your approval letter, go back to your preferred bank with your desired down payment and open the account. It may take some time for them to mail you the card in the mail, but no worries, you are on your way to a great credit score.
If you were not approved, do not fret. Call customer service and inquire about your denial if the letter is unclear and ambiguous. You can then make it a goal to work on the aspects of your profile that kept you from being approved.
Step 3: Receive Your Credit Card
This is a big moment, so take a picture. Be sure you account number is not visible. Store all you account and card information in a safe place and be sure to make a copy or two so you never lose it.
With your budget in mind, pick a day of the month or certain expense that you will solely use your new card on. This could be as simple as filling your gas tank or buying lunch. Be sure you have the money to pay off what you are buying and the interest before proceeding though.
After your probationary period, your card becomes a real credit card with no security payment. After this period of responsible spending and punctual monthly payments, you should have built up a respectable, if not superior credit score. This score will help banks and loaners decide how much they can loan you and what interest they will charge. Interest is usually less for those people with higher credit scores.
Remember, credit cards can be dangerous and troublesome if you do not use them responsibly. It is easier to wait to buy something, then pay the interest and the late fee on your card if you cannot afford it. Best of luck!