Credit cards are key to building your credit score, but they come with a great deal of responsibility. Irresponsible credit card use could result in heavy debt and unnecessary financial hardship. Building good credit is an easy process with the right management strategies.
Start with a Starter Card
The first step to building a solid credit foundation is looking for a student or secured cards. Student credit cards come with benefits such as rates. You may even be offered rewards for good grades.
Secured credit cards require a deposit that determines your credit line. Secured cards are usually reserved for people with subpar or no credit, but collateral-based cards pave the way to unsecured credit card qualification in the future.
Avoid Opening Multiple Accounts
Experts recommend having one credit card at a time, especially as young people build their credit. Too many credit card accounts could lead to financial mismanagement, delinquent accounts, and red flags to creditors. Plus, having only one account makes it easier to budget and pay down the debt you owe.
Pay Debts Quickly
Be sure to pay off debts as soon as you can. Settling debts quickly helps you:
avoid racking up interest
prevent high debt buildup
If possible, try to pay off debts within the month or at least pay more than the minimum amount due per month. Prioritize your credit card bills when budgeting and pay down your balance as much as possible to avoid excess interest.
Don’t Rack up Debt
As your credit score gets better, you may find yourself tempted to push your credit line to the limit, but it’s important to plan for the unexpected and maintain a balance that is 30 percent or less than the credit line. A high debt-to-income ratio could prevent you from obtaining a mortgage or financing a car.
Pay Bills on Time
Paying bills on or before the due date helps you avoid late fees and additional interest. Also, missing a payment deadline can severely affect your credit score.