Tips for the First Time Credit Users

College students are a huge market for credit card companies. Students need to build their credit history and getting a student credit card is one of the easiest ways to do so. Are you planning on applying for a student credit card too? Do you already have a credit card in your name? Whether you’re a student or a first time credit card holder, let this article give you some tips on how you can use your credit to your most benefit.

Read your credit card agreement. In reality, not many credit card applicants take the time to read their credit cards’ Terms and Conditions in full. As a first time credit card applicant, make it a habit to read the fine print before signing up for anything. Why is it crucial to read the fine print? Because the true costs of your credit card are disclosed here. What you see in the ads are only the best features of the credit card, the actual conditions are explained in the Agreement and it is up to you to find out.

Set your monthly budget. As a student, practice effective budgeting or money management starting now. This will greatly help you in handling your finances in the future. Set a definite amount for you to spend each month and make sure that you have enough to set aside for your debts, credit card payments and for your savings. Every month you should be putting something away in savings. If you can’t put something away in savings each month then you are living outside of your means and you need to take a hard look at your spending habits.

Pay off your credit card balance in full each month. Make it a point to pay back your monthly credit card balance in full to avoid paying the interest. There are some credit building companies that say its good to leave a running balance on your credit card because it will encourage the credit companies to increase your credit limit. I don’t know how true that is. I’ve had cards that I have paid off each month that have given me regular credit line increases. What matters most in building your credit history is how you use your available credit and how timely you are in submitting your payments.

Stay within your credit limit. Staying within your credit limit means more than just not going beyond your allotted credit. Financial advisers recommend not using more than 30% of your available credit if you want to keep your credit history in excellent standing. This habit will not only protect your credit history, it will also protect you from the risk of incurring more debts than you can afford.

Check your credit card statements regularly. It is your obligation as a credit card holder to check the accuracy of your account statements. If you find errors or unauthorized charges in your account, call your credit card issuer immediately. If your credit card company provides online access to your account, take advantage of this feature by checking your account on a daily basis. Doing so will also alert you about your due dates of payment.

Use your credit card with caution. Credit cards are meant to be financial tools when you need them. Nevertheless, credit cards are not supposed to be used without careful consideration. Before charging a purchase to your credit card, ask yourself, do you really need to make this purchase? Can you pay back your balance by the end of the month? Is it a necessity or just a want? How will this purchase effect my monthly budget?

Samantha Wilson is a consultant for credit cards for students. For years she has written student credit cards articles that would help build student credit. Copyright 2008

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