As a new college student you might be too busy finding your way around campus to worry about credit card management. But the sooner you learn the ins and outs of credit cards, the better. By the time you find your way to the campus post office and check your mail box, there will be plenty of approved credit card offers waiting just for you.
A credit report is a history of your credit reported by credit bureaus. This report shows your credit history, including payment history and total debt owed. It can be accessed by anyone considering lending you money. It may also be accessed by employers, car dealers and landlords. This report shows your ability (or lack of) to pay on debts owed. A good credit history can help you buy a house one day, get a low payment plan on a new car you want buy, or simply convince a prospective landlord to rent you an apartment. If your credit history shows late payments and other negative items, you can find yourself unable to do any of these things. Or, for example, you may be able to finance a car, but it will have very high interest rates and cost you a lot more money
I'm trying to find a credit card where I can co-sign for a friend. She has a permanent job, but no credit history.
Any credit card that allows for a cosigner is a card your friend can consider applying for. When an application asks for a cosigner, it does not limit whether or not that cosigner is a friend. Both you and your friend need to remember that if you do cosign an account for her, both of you will then be responsible for keeping the account current. This means that if she stops paying, you will be expected to pay. However, if the account goes into default or accrues penalties for any reason, it will be recorded on both of your credit histories. Cosigning for your friend should be taken seriously and carefully thought through. You must be sure that you can afford to pay on the account if your friend does not. Since you will not have any control over how much she spends, you need to be prepared for the largest sum possible. In addition, any late fees or other penalties your friend accrues on the account will have to be paid by you once the creditor asks you to pay on the account. The cosigner rarely gets any kind of monthly statements, so you may not know there is a negative situation with the account until a creditor contacts you. You can sometimes get the lender to agree, in writing, to notify you if your friend begins to miss payments. This can notify you early if there is a problem. In each state, cosigners do have rights, so find out what your rights are as a cosigner before signing on the dotted line. You may be able to negotiate the terms of your liability on an account with the lender before cosigning. Explore this option ahead of time. Lastly, keep copies of all paperwork you sign in case these papers are needed in the future.
Shopping Around for the Right Card
When shopping for a credit card, you probably will want to look at other factors besides costs- such as whether the credit limit is high enough to meet your needs, how widely the card is accepted, and what services and features are available under the plan. You may be interested, for example, in "affinity cards" -- all-purpose credit cards that are sponsored by professional organizations, college alumni associations, and some members of the travel industry. Frequently, an affinity card issuer donates a portion of the annual fees or transaction charges to the sponsoring organization, or allows you to qualify for free travel or other bonuses.
How important is the Balance Computation Method for Finance Charges?
If your plan has no free period, or if you expect to pay for purchases over time, it is important to know how the card issuer will calculate your finance charge. This charge will vary depending upon the method the card issuer uses to figure your balance. The method used can make a difference, sometimes a big difference, in how much finance charge you will pay -- even when the APR is identical to that charged by another card issuer and the pattern of purchases and payments is the same.
Avoid a Late Fee Punishment
Remember the times in your childhood when asking your parents for forgiveness calmed their anger and compelled them not to punish you. If it worked, it just might work once again, only this time with your credit card issuer. Being late on a credit card payment is now a ?“punishable offence,?” that will cost you at least $15. However, if you?’ve been ?“good?” on your previous payments, you will most likely get a break from your credit card company. Usually, if you call and ask for ?“forgiveness,?” your card issuer will oblige. If your only excuse for being late on your payments is that you?’ve never been late before, this will probably work as well, as most banks usually forgive first-time offenders.?’
Every credit card has a credit limit. It can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $250,000. There are even cards, such as the MBNA Quantum Card, that has a credit limit of $1 million. This limit is all you are allowed to spend. Once you charge the full limit on your card, your card can not be used until the balance is paid down some. The more you charge on your credit card, the higher your minimum monthly payment will be. Some cards do not prevent you from charging over your credit limit. If you do so, you will find your next monthly bill has over the limit fees added to your balance. You will then be required to pay the total amount over the limit and all the penalty fees in order to avoid even more over the limit fees the next billing cycle. (Change to: You will then be required to pay at least an amount you charged over credit limit and all the penalty fees, in order to avoid even more over the limit fees the next billing cycle) As you can see, your credit card bill could easily grow out of control if you get over the limit. The moral is, stay under your credit limit!
Don?’t be Late, Pay the Minimum
Late fees, these days, may take a toll on your financial health. It would be especially unfortunate to pay a late fee if your total credit card bill is less than the amount of late fee. To avoid this situation, consider paying a minimum due on your bill if you do not have enough cash on hand to pay off the whole bill on time.
Correcting Billing Errors
Federal law provides specific rules that the card issuer must follow for promptly correcting billing errors. The card issuer will give you a statement describing these rules when you open the credit card account and, after that, at least once a year. In fact, many card issuers print a summary of your rights on each bill they send you.
I wanted to get a credit card but I do not have any credit history. Are there other ways to build a credit history?
To someone seeking credit for the first time, it may seem like a vicious circle: You cant get credit without a credit history, and you cant establish a credit history without credit! Frustrating, isnt it? Interestingly, some institutions only look only at your salary, job and the other financial information that you put on the application to determine if you qualify for their card. However most will be interested in your track record -- How have you handled other debts -- and will ask to see your credit report.
To get the story on you, institutions will turn to information provided by credit-reporting agencies or credit bureaus like Equifax that collect, store and quantify information about borrowers. The records show your credit history -- how much credit youve received and how faithfully youve repaid. Fortunately, even if youve never had a Mastercard, American Express, Visa, Discover, or other major credit card, you can still build a good credit history:
?• Open a checking account or savings account or both. Although not part of your credit history, your accounts may be checked by potential lenders as evidence that you have money and know how to manage it.
?• Cancelled checks can be used to show that you pay utilities or rent bills regularly, a sign of reliability.
?• Apply for a department store credit card. Stores dont ask for credit histories as often as major credit card institutions, so you should be able to get a card based on your annual salary. Then, repaying your store bills on time becomes a major ""positive"" in your credit history.
?• Look for a financial institution that will allow you to deposit funds to serve as collateral for a credit card. Some institutions issue a credit card with a credit limit equal to the amount on deposit. These cards are relatively easy to obtain and as with your department store card, paying these bills on time will enhance your credit history.
?• If you dont have a credit history because you?’re new in town, request a summary of any credit record kept by a credit bureau in your former town. Dont know whom to contact? Ask the bank or department store in your former town for the name of the agency it reports to.
You may already have a great credit history and not realize it. If you do, its time to ""comparison shop"" the credit card companies and find out who has the best deal to offer you.