Building Credit as a College Student

Paper or plastic? What to consider.

Credit cards can seem like your ticket to buying anything you want. But remember, that little piece of plastic comes with big responsibilities. Credit can really cost you - it isn't "free money”. The balance on your account accrues interest, which you're also responsible for paying.

Learning how to manage your credit now will pave your way to a better financial future.

10 Ways to Manage Your Credit Wisely:

1. Avoid making small purchases with credit when cash is available.

Buying a $3 value burger here and there with a credit card when you could use cash is a prescription for future problems. Those small purchases add up, and if you don’t pay your credit card balance promptly, you’ll end up paying interest. Soon that value burger isn’t such a great value.

2. Save your receipts.

Compare your receipts to your statements each month to make sure there's not a mistake or an unauthorized charge.

3. Make sure you don't go over your credit card credit limit.

Most credit card companies charge an extra fee if you exceed your credit limit. It's also not good for your credit history.

4. Remember, advances are costly.

While your credit card may offer a cash advance option, remember that you'll probably pay a high interest rate or fee to get money this way.

5. Read the fine print.

Know all the terms of your credit cards, especially the interest rates.

6. Pay off your debts or at least pay more than the minimum.

The longer you pay to pay off your balances, the more you’ll pay in the long run. Find out how long it will take to pay off credit cards.

7. Read your credit report once a year.

It will show you how well you're managing your debt. Request your credit report through or contact one of these credit bureaus:

8. Don’t pay late.

If you make a payment late, you could harm your credit standing, be charged late payment fees and/or have your interest rate increased.

9. Don’t confuse debit cards and credit cards.

Debit card purchases are withdrawn directly from your checking account at the time of purchase. Credit card purchases add to your outstanding credit card balance.

10. Talk to your creditors if you're having trouble making payments.

They may help you work out a payment plan.

This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.

Important Information

Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. View and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans.

Union Federal is a federally registered trademark of Cognition Financial Corporation. Start Student Loan is a trademark of Cognition Financial Corporation. Both are used by SunTrust under license. Truist Financial Corporation (“SunTrust now Truist” or “Lender”) is the lender of these private student loans and they are not offered in connection with any other lender or the federal government. Cognition Financial Corporation is not an affiliate of Lender.

Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. Lender reserves the right to change or discontinue these programs without notice. These loan programs are subject to approval under the Lender’s credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.

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