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Know how to build a good credit history

As a student, you're just beginning your financial life. Establishing and maintaining good credit can make that financial life a lot easier.

Your credit score has a major impact on whether you’ll get a credit card or a loan for a home, car or other purpose. It also affects what your interest rates for a card or loan will be. A good credit history can also help you get insurance and an apartment. Potential employers may even review your credit history.

Your credit history tells creditors and others how well you've managed your financial obligations. It's a measure of how responsible you are.

How do you establish and maintain good credit? Here are some important tips to follow:

  • Make credit card and loan payments on time
  • Pay more than the minimum monthly payment on your credit card bill
  • Keep credit card balances low
  • Pay off your credit cards rather than moving the debt around from card to card
  • Avoid overdrafts and bounced checks on your checking account

Having a bad credit score is a lot like having a bad grade point average: Once it goes down, it's hard to build it back up again. It can be done, but you'll be better off if you don't let it drop in the first place.

To see how your credit score, which is defined by your credit report, might affect your interest rates—and therefore your financial future—try the Loan Savings Calculator at MyFICO.com. For ways to monitor your credit score, visit the privacy and security resources page of our website

Credit score

A number that rates the quality of an individual's credit. Credit reporting agencies calculate this number, often with the assistance of computer systems. The number helps predict the relative likelihood that a person will repay a credit obligation, such as a mortgage loan. In general, the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be approved for and to pay a lower interest rate on a loan.

Interest

A fee charged for borrowing money. Also refers to money that a financial institution may pay individuals for keeping their money in an account there (such as an interest-bearing savings account).

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