Lifestyle, Opinions

How to get a jump start on your credit journey

As college students, many of us have taken out loans or received financial aid to fund our education. I have experienced both, but taking out loans in my name was terrifying because I was unaware of what it could do to my credit score and history.

Although I did understand what it meant to have a loan, I did not feel educated enough to know what loans could do for my future, including how they would affect future purchases of a car or home.

As a first-generation student who does not know anyone personally with student loans or a credit history, I was a bit nervous to apply for a credit card at the age of 20.

I was not aware of the resources we have as Long Beach State students. Although they are not well known, CSULB does have a Financial Literacy Program that can help students make smarter decisions with money.

The CSULB Financial Literacy Program includes workshops available for students. To access these resources, visit csulb.financialliteracy101.org and use the access code “CSULB-ALL”.

This online and in-person program is available to all CSULB students for free. As of right now, this is the only financial literacy program we have at The Beach. As a part of the SOAR orientation program, this is offered for incoming students to the university, but it isn’t talked about enough.

According to the Financial Literacy Program description, the program offers financial aid and credit management workshops. Although the program offers credit management assistance, the university should also offer resources about choosing between credit cards and what certain terms mean.

A year and a half ago, a friend encouraged me to apply for credit cards meant for students. I had heard about student credit cards but I was not sure if I would qualify for credit. He had been using credit cards since his senior year of high school and has been responsible with his use, improving his credit score.

This advice inspired me to apply for a student credit card so I could get ahead at the start of the future I want to live.

What is a student credit card and how does it differ from a regular credit card?

Student credit cards are designed for college students who are looking to start their credit history and score. These types of cards are easier to be approved for with no credit history and usually come with a low to medium credit line to responsibly manage it.

I recommend doing the research beforehand on what type of student credit cards cater to your needs. Some credit cards have benefits for traveling, others have cash back on restaurants or gas and some are catered toward general use.

I applied for the Chase Freedom Student credit card with a credit line of $500. This has been the best decision I have ever done for my future, as I only need this for everyday purchases. After using this card for over a year, I have a credit score of 679 which falls in the range between fair to good. My credit line also rose to $800 after making reasonable payments and not using my entire credit line.

After I graduate and move into my career, a goal of mine is to pay off my loans as soon as possible and purchase a home and a car. By starting my credit history during college and being responsible with it, I have set myself up for success.

I encourage any students who are reading this to apply for a student credit card and not wait until after you graduate. Get ahead of this part of being a responsible adult now so you don’t have to catch up later.

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