4 Ideas for Building Credit as a College Student

4 Ideas for Building Credit as a College Student

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If you’re wondering how to build credit as a college student, you’re on the right track. After all, your credit score comes into play everywhere from applying for private student loans to filling out an application to rent an apartment. This is because your credit score allows lenders to get an idea of your entire credit history with just one number (kind of like a GPA for your credit).

Credit scores range from poor to excellent. If your credit isn’t where you want it, don’t worry — building your credit might be easier than you think.

4 ways to build credit as a college student

  1. Become an authorized user
  2. Get a secured credit card
  3. Make student loan payments while you’re in school
  4. Get a credit-builder loan

Having good credit could help you qualify for private student loans, credit cards, personal loans, a mortgage, and more. And if you’re approved, your credit score might be the difference between getting a good rate and the best rate. This means an excellent credit score could save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a loan.

Needing a good credit score is one of the biggest differences between federal vs. private loans. Out of all the federal student loan types, only PLUS loans require a credit review.

Use your credit responsibly! Only borrow what you need and can afford to pay back. Also, be sure to keep an eye on your credit score. If you look at your credit report regularly, you can catch any errors or fraudulent use of your credit.

Learn More: How to Take Out a Student Loan

1. Become an authorized user

Might be a good option if someone you know and trust (such as a parent) is willing to add you to their credit card account.

The easiest way for many people to get started with credit is to become an authorized user. To become an authorized user, someone you know with a credit card can add you to their account. This means you’ll get your own card to use on the account but aren’t ultimately responsible for the bill.

If you’re an authorized user, the credit card will show up on your credit report. As long as payments are made on time and the balance on the card is low, being an authorized user could help you build a positive credit history and start on the path to a good credit score.

Find Out: Credit Score Needed to Take Out a Student Loan

2. Get a secured credit card

Might be a good option if you can afford a deposit to open a secured credit card and will keep up with your monthly payments.

While secured credit cards help you build credit just like any other credit card, they work a bit differently behind the scenes. Secured credit cards are designed for people with no credit or bad credit. In some cases, you can open a secured card without a credit check at all. There are also some secured credit cards geared specifically toward students.

When you open a secured credit card, you have to put down a cash deposit equal to your credit limit. If you make the agreed monthly payments, you can get your deposit back if you close the card in the future (or if you convert to an unsecured card).

Can you get a credit card as a student? There are a few secured credit cards geared specifically toward students. There are also credit card companies that offer unsecured credit cards for students that don’t require a deposit (and sometimes don’t require a credit history).

3. Make student loan payments while you’re in school

Might be a good option to build your credit over time if you can afford to make early payments.

Any student loans you have will show up on your credit report, including loans in deferment. But even if you don’t have to start paying on your loans yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t make early payments.

Making payments while in school can be a good idea because:

  • You can pay down your balance or accrued interest, which will save you money over time.
  • Your payments will show up on your credit report and be counted as on-time payments, which will improve your credit history.
  • Paying down your balance and making on-time payments could both improve your credit score.
  • You’ll be closer to paying off your student loans for good when you graduate.

Learn More: Student Loan Requirements

4. Get a credit-builder loan

Might be a good option if you want to quickly establish positive credit and don’t want to deal with credit cards.

A credit-builder loan is a type of loan for people with no credit or bad credit. With a credit-builder loan, you’ll make a monthly payment that generally will go into a savings account. You’ll also pay interest like you would with any other loan. Once you pay the loan off, you’ll get your money back, minus any interest and fees.

While you’re working to build your score, a cosigner could help

Improving your credit can take time. But if you need to get a loan while you’re building your credit, finding a cosigner might be a good idea. A cosigner essentially shares their good credit with you, making it easier to qualify for a loan. However, keep in mind that a cosigner is also on the hook if you don’t make your loan payments.

If you’re looking to build your credit for a private student loan, you might be able to qualify more easily by applying with a cosigner. Just be sure to consider as many lenders as possible to find the right student loan for you. Credible makes this easy — you can compare multiple lenders at once (with and without a cosigner) in just a few minutes.

Compare student loan rates from top lenders

  • Multiple lenders compete to get you the best rate
  • Get actual rates, not estimated ones
  • Finance almost any degree

See Your Rates

Checking rates will not affect your credit

The post 4 Ideas for Building Credit as a College Student appeared first on Credible.

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