College Connect: Learning to build good credit the American way

Posted By sabew

by Alex Missick Life as an International Student

Credit in the U.S. is a major deal when it comes to a student’s future. Building a good credit history is very important for international students living in the U.S. if they intend to make major purchases later on or even after graduation.

Building good credit is essential for a number of reasons as it can help students qualify for loans, rental applications, cell phone plans, and can even influence whether a person gets a job.

The first time I had ever heard about building credit was when my mother decided that I pay a credit card bill on which I was a co-signer. This card was only for emergencies and I was tempted many times to squash my shopping bug habit. I had no idea that by paying off a credit card that I had virtually not been using was a good way to build my credit.

So what other ways can you build credit? I asked Office for Financial Services Director, Ryan Law, at the department of Personal Finance at the University of Missouri to give a few suggests as to how international students can build great credit scores for the future.

“The biggest pieces of building your credit score and building your credit can be composed of is how well you paid your credit cards and other debts (if you paid them on time) and also the balances on your loans,” Mr. Law said.

Additionally, international students should think about the fact that part of their credit score is how long they have had a credit history.

“They need to start building credit as soon as possible so that when they get out of college”, Mr. Law said, “they can focus on- if they are looking to buy a home or a car- they have a couple of years behind them in building their credit history.”

Responsibility is another factor that Mr. Law said is always key to good credit.

“They need to make sure they are responsible with the credit card. If they need a car while they are going to school, it might be a good idea to get the car on a loan so that they can build credit in that way.”

Mr. Law suggested that student also pay their rent and utilities on time to avoid this from going their credit report because it can pull their credit score down.
“I would recommend that students consider getting a credit card and they need to be cautious and be aware that having a credit card can cause problems if they do not use it responsibly.”

Although building credit is a great way get major essentials later on in life, international students must remember that being responsible with money and having secure credit can open many financial doors in the future.

Alex Missick is a junior majoring in journalism at the University of Missouri. She’s an international student from the Bahamas.

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