College graduate

3 credit considerations for college-grads-to-be.

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Here’s how newly minted grads can get ahead of the credit curve.

Whether you’re a college senior wrapping up classes or are already basking in the graduation glow, the “real world” looms. Your near future doesn’t have to be scary, though, especially when it comes to credit. For your peace of mind as a newly minted graduate, here are 3 questions to start asking yourself now.

1. Have I already established credit?

If you have a student credit card, are an authorized user on your parents’ cards or have some other debt you’ve been repaying, you likely have a credit history. Provided your credit is healthy enough, the fact that you have a credit history in the first place may make it easier for you to get more credit.

If you haven’t yet established credit and have student loans, starting on-time payments on those loans is a great way to build credit. Getting a credit card without having a credit history? Secured credit cards may be a good option. That’s because they’re typically easier to get approved for than unsecured cards. Just know that with secured cards, you’ll have to put down some type of deposit, at least initially.

2. Am I on top of my student loan repayment obligations?

Assuming you have it, student debt is another key credit consideration to have top of mind before graduation. To help avoid harming your credit history, make sure you’re prepared. Review the loan terms and:

  • Know what you owe
  • When you have to start repaying
  • What your monthly payment would be
  • Find out if and how you might apply to get a break on monthly payments, if need be
  • Know your rate and look into the possibility of consolidating your loans into a lower rate

3. Do I have existing credit card debt?

If you already have credit card debt, make paying it down a priority. Chances are, your credit card debt carries a higher interest rate than other kinds of debt you may have. If you can chip away at it before you enter the “real world,” that’s great because every little bit helps. If you can’t, plan on devoting as much of your post-graduation income as you can to paying your credit card debt off first.

Life after college can be both exciting and stressful. Assessing your credit situation now can help you maximize the former and minimize the latter. All it takes is a little knowledge and preparation. Final exams, on the other hand? We can’t really help you there!

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