Tips to Build Good Credit During and After College

(StatePoint) There’s a lot of learning that takes place during and after college, including many lessons outside of the classroom. When it comes to personal finance, however, young people don’t need to learn their lessons the hard way.

Consider these tips to help you establish good credit that will lay the foundation for a healthy financial future — well beyond college:

Do Your Research

With so many reports of rampant consumer debt, you may be tempted to shy away from opening a credit card account, but opening a credit card is a crucial step in establishing a credit history. A healthy credit history is not just necessary for most home and car loans, in many cases, it’s also required for establishing accounts with utility services and signing apartment leases. What’s more, good credit can help you avoid security deposit fees, get better insurance rates, and even help you land that dream job, as many employers run credit checks on candidates.

The good news is that 83 percent of college graduates and 57 percent of current college students have at least one credit card, according to “Majoring in Money,” a recent national study by Sallie Mae and Ipsos. Also, nearly all young adults — 97 percent — make at least the minimum payment each month. Moral of the story? Get a credit card and use it responsibly.  

Be Selective

There are many credit cards marketed specifically to young people. Make sure to select your credit accounts wisely and watch out for programs offering rewards and benefits that make maxing out, and then owing big, all too easy.

Instead, look for credit cards designed to promote and reward long-term financial responsibility, offered by financial institutions committed to customer success. For example, Sallie Mae is introducing a new suite of credit cards with a range of benefits that do just that. The Sallie Mae Ignite card, for example, is designed to help college students responsibly establish and manage credit. For those looking to make progress towards important financial goals, the Sallie Mae Accelerate card offers a cash back bonus program designed to help pay down any student loan. Finally, the Sallie Mae Evolve card, automatically rewards a cash bonus on your top two purchase categories each month.

All three cards feature universal benefits, including U.S.-based customer service, free monthly access to credit scores, immediate access to the card upon approval, a mobile app, and tools to deliver security and control. To learn more, visit

“Our established relationships with college students and graduates helped us understand what they’re looking for in a credit card,” says Donna Vieira, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Sallie Mae. “These new credit cards, co-created and developed with students, parents and recent graduates, provide benefits tailored to their needs.”

Don’t let credit be an undue source of stress as you navigate early adulthood. Find the right products designed with your needs in mind and establish healthy financial habits.


Photo Credit: (c) Mymemo /