People kill me saying college students shouldn’t get credit cards. Maybe they shouldn’t. But college is as good a time as any to learn how to manage life.
The picture above is a screenshot of mine per Discover showing me where I rank. I’m also a third year college student. This is proof that you can do it.
You can build a healthy credit score in only two years!
***I am not a financial expert nor advisor. By reading this you agree with the policy as listed in my disclaimer.
Before I graduated in 2015 I did research to find my own credit card that would work best for me. My mom has great credit and became my co-signer.
(If you don’t have credit, or don’t have a co-signer, check out my post here on how to build credit without credit cards.)
Why did I choose Discover Student Card?
My Discover Student Card has everything. Well for one, with my co-signer I could build my credit with two cards stemming from one primary account; one for her, and one for me.
I love that Discover lets me
- I can ‘freeze’ a lost card so no one can swipe it
- The Menu has a “Quick View” option that lets me see the important info first
- The app is convenient and I can pay directly from my phone
- I get all kinds of reminders
- I can get my credit score for free at anytime
- The Rewards and Cashback System are Heavenly
- Discover watches my info to keep me safe from Identity Theft
- I can refer a friend and we both get $50 dollars (lol email me for more info on this)
** I’m not getting paid to say this btw**
Compare Cards like this at www.nerdwallet.com to see which is best for you.
What did I do Next?
I made purchases and paid them off in full, and on time.
Literally, I would earn a few hundred from my job and I would purchase an item with my credit card, deposit what I just spent, wait for the total to post to Discover, PAY IT OFF IN FULL, Repeat.
Word to the Wise: Read all fine print: if words like APR & Interest rate are unfamiliar I explained those terms in this post.
That’s the magic.
Elsewhere, I detail that there are other ways to build credit with retail cards, by making small purchases, and paying that off on time.
For example, whether you pay for your car note, phone bill, monthly rotating bills/subscriptions like Netflix and Hulu, even GAS credit cards can boost your score in about 3 months. Following my rules below will help guide you, but your results may vary.
Only charge what you already have in cash. Credit card companies, and loan offices make money from your debt. PAID IN FULL needs to become more than just a movie. Let it be the motto.
Paid in full = Don’t pay minimum payments.
Also, patience is a virtue. It takes about 1-3 months for good spending habits to catch up, and reflect on your score.
Look at How My Credit Score Progressed Overtime
Lol, I went a little crazy around my birthday (June) don’t be me-Make the Wise Choice
Word to the Wise I want you to see that no, Rome was not built in a day. Constantly trying to apply for credit cards can hurt you. Build good habits, and be patient.
My Score was 740. Even though My Credit Line is Only Two Years Old
What are the “10 accounts”?
Don’t let that scare you; I too have a few retail cards 😉 and a few loans I make payments on.
I mostly operate in cash. Cash is real. It helps you see what you have to work with. Make a budget and stick to it!
Get your check direct deposited. Pay yourself first, that means taking out cash for bills, groceries, and gas..the rest gets put up into savings to be doled out according to bill schedule i.e. credit cards, loans…or whoever comes next.
Let me Explain a Few Things
When I tapped an icon on my Discover Student Card app it explained that the increase in points were due to: no missed payments, and no recent inquires (inquires = no lender had to look up my score)
Word to the Wise: When starting out it is more hurtful to constantly apply for credit cards as every time a lender does a hard pull to see your score, it docks points from your it.
For Ex: Every time you check your score, or apply for a credit card/loan, your score lowers
(Hard pulls don’t occur with most retail cards however)
My Score Grew in Two Years
Now, you might be asking why is “two years of credit” labeled yellow, is that a bad thing?
Credit lenders want to deal with people who have had good credit for longer than two years, BUT my score would just about always guarantee me an approval.
What else is considered a good score? Well I’ll tell you that a credit score of 714 got me pretty far on a car loan.
The low age of 2 years is hurting my account, but only time will fix that. It seems that about 15% of your score is determined by the length of credit in years.
Jump on securing that first card!
What is “Revolving Utilization?”
Basically revolving utilization is how much you owe overall on your accounts. What you owe to lenders is one of the most important factors in determining your score.
Say it again for the people in the back: “Revolving Utilization (how much you owe) makes up about 30% of your score.”
Mine pictured above is 27% I didn’t know how to feel about that percentage initially, but Discover has that tab marked ‘green’ so I’ll take that.
If you need more help understanding what I posted, or understanding your own info I’m not an expert, read my disclaimer here, but I’ll help in anyway I can.
I’m only showing proof of what worked for me.
To Conclude this lesson in Credit 101:
- If you want info on How to Build Credit Using Retail Cards, click here.
- Choose the best credit card for you at Nerd Wallet or here for retail cards
- Revolving Utilization Makes up 30% of Your Score
- REMEMBER: Make Big Purchases, Pay off On Time and In Full
Is it difficult for you to try to figure all this out? Email me.
Do you want me to post a little more about how I do this? Comment below. I’m here to help, just ask away.