Building credit beneficial for students

Officials say taking out a small loan is one of the most popular ways students can earn credit.

Credit is beneficial when it comes to large purchases or emergencies, said Heather Brown, Listerhill director of the Center for Financial Literacy.

And whether it is a credit card with a small limit or even bills, almost every transaction that someone takes changes the way that person’s credit is rated.

“A credit score, sometimes referred to as a Beacon Score or FICO Score is a measure of your credit performance and an indicator as to how well you will pay a creditor in the future based on this past performance,”  she said.

Gaining credit of any kind is not a hard task. Brown said taking out a small loan or opening up a credit card are the most popular ways.

Brown said another way is by using a savings account at a bank.

“Another way is to apply for a savings or share-secured note,” she said. “This entails you taking, say, $500 and putting it into a savings account.”

The bank will then hold the money while they pay it back in increments.

Not too much money is lost because the bank already has the $500 and only interest is paid Brown said.

The key to good credit is to prove you are creditworthy, said Ben Baker, director of financial services at UNA.

Large, planned purchases require good credit or a co-signer to prove that someone will pay the purchase back Baker said.

“Apply for a credit card, apply for and handle your bank account in a satisfactory manner, apply for an auto loan, establish a utility account in your own name, apply for an apartment lease in your own name, etc.,” Baker said.

Students can look into low-interest credit cards and make payments on time over a long period, something offered by most credit unions and banks. Students could also take out a small loan, as some students do when they start college he said.

If someone were to gain a bad credit score, he or she would have to keep all information up to date about repayment plans, current living address and financial standing, he said.

“It can take quite some time to restore an adverse credit rating,” Baker said.

Baker said the best way to stay out of the red is to be prompt on all payments and review all payments.

Baker said to be careful when it comes to luxuries and not spend just because credit allows it.

He said to watch for opening costs, which can cause someone’s budget to get out of hand, that change after just a few months.

“Someone shopping for a credit card needs to always read the fine print,” Brown said. “You may be promised some outrageously low rate at the beginning only to find six months later that low rate has now tripled or quadrupled.”