Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

5 Ways College Students Can Build Their Credit

5 Ways College Students Can Build Their Credit

Editorial Disclosure: Editorial content, including card comparisons and card reviews are not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. may be compensated through Affiliate Programs for referrals.

• Updated: July 13, 2018

Between pizza and parties, good credit might be low on the priority list of the average college student.  Yet a high credit score makes it easier to get a car loan, rent an apartment, and cope with unexpected financial emergencies—things that do rank highly among new college graduates.  Fortunately, establishing good credit in college is easy.  Below we offer our top tips for college students who want an “A+” in personal finances:

  1. Get a Credit Card.  This step is often difficult for a person with no credit history.  However, there are ways to get around this.  One option is to apply for a secured credit card—this type of credit card requires you to provide a deposit as collateral which serves as your credit line.  Alternatively, you can ask your parents to add you as an authorized user to one of their credit cards.  This allows you to “piggyback” off of your parent’s good credit history, raising your own credit score.  If neither of these options are appealing, consider a retail credit card.  With their smaller credit lines, these are typically easier to obtain, and they help build your credit history.
  2. Keep the Balance Low.  You have to use your credit card to establish credit, but running up a high balance decreases your credit score.  Instead, plan to use your card sparingly.  For instance, you might decide to pay small monthly expenses with your credit card, like Netflix or your cell phone bill.
  3. Pay On Time.  Payment history makes up 35% of your credit card score.  Always pay off your full balance on time each month.  If you struggle to do that, you might be living beyond your means and could benefit from a budget.
  4. Don’t Apply for Multiple Cards at Once.  Avoid the tendency to go overboard with credit cards.  FICO—the company that determines your credit score—says that opening a lot of new accounts rapidly hurts your score.  For college students, one or two credit cards are plenty.
  5. Pay Student Loans.  After graduation, the sticker price of your education can be jolting!  However, student loans also contribute to your credit score.  If your loan payments are unaffordable, don’t hide from your loan officer.  Instead, explain your financial situation—loan servicers have a number of different options to reduce or defer payments.     
Click Here to View All of Our Student Credit Cards >>

We think you'll also enjoy
Couple looking through bills
5 Ways You Can Start Paying Off Debt Today
Hispanic woman paying at restuarant
Will The New EMV Chip Credit Cards Change The Way You Tip?
Hands in the air emv article
How are new EMV® Chips helping to protect consumers?


We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help our site stay clean and safe by following our posting guidelines, and avoid disclosing any personal information such as phone numbers or bank account information.

The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by the card issuers or advertisers. Additionally the card issuer does not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.