Credit Could Help or Wreck Your Grad’s Life

It’s never too soon to develop a virtuous circle in using credit, one of the most important parts of any person’s financial life.

So getting into good credit practices when someone is beginning higher education, when one is becoming an adult, is a good time to start.

Why?

Knowledge Equals Big Bucks

Managing credit effectively, credit card experts say, saves a person tens of thousands of dollars or perhaps even more over the course of a lifetime. The sooner someone adopts effective credit card practices, the more money that can be saved.

The more that can be saved, the more money that can be available for savings and investments. The more one builds up financial assets, the more things that a person can afford. He or she can enjoy a higher standard of living without problems.

Where does it all start?

You wouldn’t hand over your card to your youngster without driver education, right? The same applies to the use of credit. The young person should receive some financial education before his or her first credit or debit card. Then a young person is ready to use it.

The Future Is Now

So now is the time for the recent graduate to establish good credit, card industry analysts say.

“It’s imperative that recent high school graduates begin building credit as soon as possible,” according to a recent CardHub.com report, “Best Credit Cards for 2015 Graduates.”

The report says using cards properly is the best way for a young person to build a strong credit history. That is essential for gaining access to the best card deals.

“Building your credit history is very important at this age. When used responsibly, a credit card can help you achieve a higher credit score,” says Bill Hardekopf of LowCards.com

Many Card Benefits

Card experts contend the benefits of a good score can go beyond lower rates and access to various benefits.

“Employers, deciding on who to hire, sometimes also check a young person’s credit rating,” said Jill Gonzalez, a CardHub.com. spokeswoman. “If a person pays on time, that can potentially help the person get a job.”

How can someone with no credit history or a shaky one start boosting a score?

Card experts recommend a young person with no history or a bad one use a secured card. (See below) This is one in which the cardholder puts up a deposit to protect against potential payment problems. Then, over the course of the first year of the card, make all payments on time and one will have an improved credit score.

Higher credit scores mean lower rates and potential access to a mortgage, card experts say. They can also qualify a cardholder for rewards and benefits not available to those with poor ratings.

Maybe Six Figures

Indeed, using credit effectively saves thousands of dollars over a lifetime if one follows sensible practices quickly, says Matt Schulz, a senior industry analyst with CreditCards.com

How?

“Including mortgages and car loans, over the course of a lifetime we could be speaking of six figures in savings,” he says.

He should know.

Schulz and his wife graduated from college with $10,000 in debt, but made sacrifices and retired it in four years. “Today, we enjoy the best card offers and have flown to Europe thanks to frequent flyer miles we’ve earned on our cards.”

Parents, Gonzalez notes, should educate their grads in how to use cards.

Are You Revolving or Transacting?

Education, experts add, includes making first time cardholders aware of how to use the card effectively. First-time card users need to understand the advantages of the transactor versus the revolver.

The transactor pays off balances each month and pays zero percent interest. The revolver can pay 20 percent annual interest on balances. That can lead to huge card bills, missed payments and a poor credit rating.

How can your young graduate avoid that?

Here are some cards, say industry experts, that can put the graduate on the road to the best deals:

Good Cards for Grads:

*Capital One Secured:

http://www.creditcards.com/credit-cards/capital-one-secured-mastercard.php?catid=39

Great for students or recent grads with little to no credit history. A small deposit gets you a credit line, and then you can use the card like a regular credit card.

*Discover It For Students with $20 Cash Back:

http://www.creditcards.com/credit-cards/discover-it-for-students-with-$20-cash-back-22189914.php

$20 cash back after you make your first purchase within 3 months of approval. Five percent cash back in categories that change each quarter up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases. No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment.

*Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One:

http://www.creditcards.com/credit-cards/journey-student-rewards-from-capital-one.php?catid=18

Earn 1% cash back on all purchases, plus a 25% bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time, for a total of 1.25% cash back. No annual fees. Access to a higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on time.

About The Author

Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent business journalist from Queens, New York. His Personal Finance articles have appeared in publications such as The New York Post & Financial Advisor Magazine. He is the author of the eBooks “Personal Finance For People Who Hate Personal Finance” and “MoneySense”.