Home > Student Loans > 5 Credit Tips for College Students

Comments 0 Comments

There’s a lot to worry about when you’re in college. There are classes, friends, internships and parties to worry about. But what many of us probably should have been thinking about a lot more was our credit. In fact, now that we’re older and wiser, there are a lot of things we wish we would have done differently when it comes to our credit.

Unfortunately, there’s no freshman orientation on building credit. So a lot of students fail to grasp the reality of responsibly using a credit card until it’s too late. They might even graduate with a pile of credit card debt on top of their student loan debt. But instead of trying to prevent college students from getting their hands on credit cards, it’s important to teach them about proper use.

Here are five credit tips that every college student should know.

1. Don’t Be Afraid of Credit

Staying away from credit cards completely won’t help build a strong credit profile. Since a large portion of your credit score is determined by your credit history, the earlier you establish lines of credit, the better.

Whether you like it or not, credit is becoming more and more important in aspects of every day life. Things like mortgages and car loans require good credit, so if you ever plan on buying either of those items you’ll need a good score.

2. Get Added as an Authorized User

It’s nearly impossible to get approved for a regular credit card if a college student has no income. But it’s easy to be added to a parent’s credit cards as an authorized user. All it takes is a phone call.

This is one of the best ways to establish credit without having to apply for your own card since there’s no credit inquiry and your credit report will reflect the same credit utilization rate as your parent’s card. (Just be sure your parent has good credit.)

3. Apply for a Student Card

Since it’s difficult to get approved for a regular credit card while you’re in school, consider applying for a student credit card. The limits on these cards are low, but they are a great way to establish credit.

Having a student card will also give you an opportunity to learn how to manage your money, pay monthly bills and spend responsibly.

4. Use Your Card Wisely

It’s important to realize that your credit card bill should be paid off in full every month. If you can’t pay your balance in full, you’ll start to accumulate interest and fees and that’s what the credit card companies thrive on. Treat your credit card like you would your bank account and don’t ever spend more than you can afford to pay back immediately.

5. Understand Your Credit Report

If you want to understand how credit card companies and banks view your credit it’s important that you understand your credit report. You should check your report for accuracy at least once a year in order to ensure that all of the information listed is correct, and dispute it if it is not.

Image:  Ingram Publishing

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team