Going off to college often means you’re on your own for the first time, and you want to start out on the right foot. Establishing a good credit history is something you don’t want to overlook. People usually talk about needing good credit when they’re ready to buy a car or a home, and that’s true, but having good credit will help you now, too.
For example, you may decide to consolidate your student loans after you graduate. If so, you’ll want to be eligible for the lowest possible interest rate in order to keep your monthly payments down. You’ll also be applying for jobs and looking for a place to live. Employers and landlords may take your credit report and credit score into consideration before making decisions about hiring you or renting to you, so you want your credit history to demonstrate you’re responsible beyond your winning smile.
One of the simplest ways to build good credit is to pay your monthly bills on time, including utilities: gas, electric, cable/internet, and phone. If you pay a bill late, it can negatively affect your credit score for up to 7 years. Establishing good payment behavior from the start will give you better borrowing options when you’re ready for those larger purchases like buying a car or investing in your first home.