Why worry about your credit score now, when you might be years away from owning a car, house, or small business?
For one thing, the longer you have a history of responsible credit use, the better. For another, even though you can increase your score, it does take time.
What Is a Credit Score?
It’s a three-digit number credit card companies create to determine your creditworthiness (i.e., whether or not you can be trusted to repay your debts). Scores will fall somewhere between 300 and 850.
Your credit history and score can affect your ability to get a loan or a credit card or buy a car or house—as well as how much you pay for these things. The lower your credit score, the higher the interest rate you’ll pay. Many employers today are even looking at applicants’ credit before extending job offers.
How Do You Establish Credit?
Of course, you’ll have to be careful with credit cards, but they can actually play a big role in building good credit, as long as you use them wisely. Use your credit card to make just a few purchases each month (expenses that are already figured into your budget—gas, your monthly cell phone bill, etc.) and pay the balance in full before the due date. This is a great way to establish credit over time while not going into costly credit card debt.
Check out www.saltmoney.org for more information on credit, credit cards, and good money management practices.
What Is SALT?
SALT was created by American Student Assistance (ASA), a nonprofit organization, to help Parkland students like you become more financially savvy. This program rewards you for making smart money decisions, and we’re providing all of its services to you—including your membership as a gift, free of charge. If you haven’t created your SALT account yet, visit www.saltmoney.org/parklandcollege to sign up today!
[Dawn Good is a financial aid advisor in Parkland’s Financial Aid and Veteran Services office.]