College Connect: Making sure you earn your own good credit

Posted By David Wilhite

By Ron Davis

Before my sophomore year of college, my dad gave a credit card that was to be used strictly for emergencies. The problem was, the card had my name on it, but wasn’t linked to my social security account, but to his, rather. It did nothing for my credit score.

I justified a few emergencies, which I got yelled at for, deservingly so, in retrospect. So, we came up with a solution: I will have my own card that will affect that credit score, but it’s on me to decide how to use it. If there was a true emergency, I’d use the card and my dad would later cover me.  The rest of the charges were on me.

Having a credit card, I’ve learned, is incredibly valuable to becoming more financially literate before I enter the real world. In addition, teaching me financial responsibility, I got off to a good start with my credit score. I made all my credit card payments manageable.

It’s fun to spend money you don’t physically have, which is why you should only use it to pay for “non-fun” stuff. I refuse to enter my credit card information for an online purchase – I use my debit card for that.

I almost always use the card for groceries and gas. I choose to shop at Walmart because my dollar stretches further there than it does at other grocery stores. I strategically chose to live directly near campus so I don’t need to use my car that often.

My schedule is busy enough that I often forget about what I need to do if I put it off. Paying off that credit card right away essential. I don’t want to wait for the statement in the mail. U.S. Bank, which issued my card, has a pretty neat feature on its website after logging into my account. There is a pie chart with a comprehensive breakdown of all of my spending for the year. It looks pretty startling because it’s over the course of the year, but again, because of my quick payments right away, you feel a sense of accomplishment and responsibility. And, best of all, no interest!

I haven’t used the check credit score website that are advertised in really bad commercials. Instead, U.S. Bank’s website has a link to creditviewdashboard.com. I use that to check my score, which improves every one that my credit ages and I keep making timely payments.

When I check that score, I know that my approach to managing my card is working. I am still in college and ahead of the game.

I’m ahead of most of my peers, it seems. According to 2017 survey by US News, about 45% of college students aren’t taught about using credit card.  The news outlet surveyed 1,427 college students who own credit cards, asking them about their knowledge of credit cards and use habits.

Often, students build up debt during college that nags them for years – a little education can go a long way!

Ron Davis is senior majoring in journalism at the University of Missouri.

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