Now, you are done with college and ready to face the ‘real’ world.
One of the first things you will have to tackle is setting up a base for your financial life – you’d have to find a full-time job, rent a home, start making plans for retirement and on top of this begin repaying your student loan.
And in the mist of that, you are going to decide how to leverage credit cards to build a solid financial base for yourself – this is no mean feat, and you must keep your head to make the right choices.
According to recent research, millennials are shying away from credit cards – they favor debit cards over credit cards – this is unconnected to the high consumer debts burden on the older generation. But the truth is a credit card, responsibly used can play a part in a healthy overall financial plan.
Opening a credit account now could be a smart move that sets you up for favorable rates in the future when you would be ready for those big purchases like taking out a mortgage loan for a new home, buying an insurance plan, to down payment for a car. So you see, you don’t want to be handicapped when it’s time to negotiate for these purchases.
So to guide, here are seven credit card tips you should be aware of:
Determine why you want the credit card.
Define why you’re applying for the card – is to build up a high credit score ahead of a major purchase or so you’re qualified for some rewards, money backs or rebates?
Setting this goal goes a long way in shaping your credit behavior and ensures you stay on track to attaining your goals.
… then go ahead and get one.
Yes, you read that right after all the planning it’s time actually to go out and get the card. Opening a credit card account is the first step in building a solid credit rating that comes in handy when you need an affordable mortgage, auto loan, and more.
If you don’t have a credit card already, then, you have to go for secured credit cards. A secured credit card usually requires you make a deposit that serves as security and as well as your credit limit.
However, if you’re already using a credit card while in school, then you may be qualified for unsecured credit cards with favorable terms.
Keep an eye on your spending.
You have the credit card now; the temptation to go on a spending spree will be high. You might even be tempted to max out your card – but that’s a wrong move if your goal is to build a positive credit score.
It is recommended that you maintain balances between ten to twenty percent of the available credit limit.
Pay your bills on time.
What is the golden rule of credit cards? Pay your bills on time each month. The risk of not paying is, you’re likely going to be hit with a late fee charge, slammed with a hefty annual percentage rate penalty and possible damage to your credit score.
…. And in full every time.
The best next option when you are unable to pay in full is to make the minimum payment. Never for whatever reason skip paying every month. This affects your credit score and also you risk late fee charges.
Monitor your statements.
Unfortunately, credit card hacks are on the increase, checking your report ensures you keep a close tab on the activities of your account and can easily spot suspicious transactions.
Keep a rein on yourself.
Maintaining a responsible credit card use requires you know when to stop charging on your card – This is especially true if your spending starts getting out of control. Then create a payment plan to help you pay down on the debts.
A credit card is a tool, and like every tool, it can be beneficial or dangerous depending on how you harness it. We hope that this post will guide you to reap the benefits of using a credit card as you set out on your journey to building a solid financial life.