| June 18, 2013

Five credit-management tips for college graduates

Immediately after graduating college, many former students will be fully in charge of their finances for the first time, which can be overwhelming for some. 

One of the biggest areas that could damage the finances of a recent college grad is credit. If not used correctly, these people could find themselves in deep trouble with credit card debt

That being said, recent college grads need to educate themselves on the best credit-management tips. 

1. Check your credit report frequently

To ensure that all information is accurate, recent college grads need to be sure to check their credit reports often. Failing to do this could lead to credit scores becoming severely damaged by false information. A person's credit history is used by lenders and credit issuers as well as employers so it is important to ensure there is no false negative information. 

2. Use credit cards sparingly

Having at least one credit card is essential to help build a credit score, but it is important not to use them too much. Taking on too much debt can lead to unnecessary financial stresses so be sure to only use credit cards for emergencies and small purchases.

Ideally, they will only be used when you have the money to pay off what you charge.  

3. Always pay bills on time

Recent college grads may not know everything about credit cards so they may not feel as though it is a big deal if they make their payment late when, in fact, this can be extremely damaging. Every missed payment made records negative information on a credit report, which is why everyone needs to be sure to pay their bills on time. One of the best way to ensure this happens is to set up payment reminders through text or email. Most credit card providers allow cardholders to set these up through online banking, but people can also do it on their own. 

4. Be able to recognize credit card traps

There will be many times when recent college grads could be tricked into signing up for a credit card so people need to become aware of these traps. For example, retailers often say consumers can save 15 percent by signing up for store cards, but they come with high interest rates so that money saved up front could end up costing shoppers in interest. 

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