(CNN) – There’s plenty for new college grads to celebrate at this time of year, but there’s also plenty to do to make sure post-college life is on the right financial footing.
New grads managing their money for the first time will find that building a credit history can be a lot like building a g-p-a. A few missteps can really put a dent in a credit score.
Consumer Credit Expert Beverly Harzog said, “It’s really important that they stop and think about whether or not they actually need a credit card and if they do, are they really ready for it. Because you don’t want to use credit cards unless you keep a low balance and pay the balance in full by the due date.”
Harzog says some grads may find that paying basic bills like rent and utilities and student loan debt may be all they can handle, and that’s fine. But those who do want to put plastic in their wallet, may want to consider a card with some perks.
“If you want rewards, and you can really make money from rewards credit cards if you use the card responsibly, you need to decide what type of rewards you need – cash back, do you want airline miles.”
And if balances and payments get off track, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“If that happens, if you have a good reason, you can call your credit card issuer and ask if they will remove the late fee and not report it to the credit bureaus. You can do this, and if you’ve been a good customer so far, they might actually give you that favor.”
Just don’t rely on those favors too often. A credit score impacts future finances, everything from car loans to mortgages, even if those purchases seem far off.
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