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By Bryson Lacasse

Credit scores, cash-secured loans, and reward cards all sound intimidating and overwhelming to the majority of college students. These terms, and many more, can be simplified and understood when talking to knowledgeable people in the finance industry.

The staff of Franklin Bank and Trust Company are available to help clients set up a credit card, take out a loan, establish a checking account with online banking and much more. Loan officer Drew Hubbard gave a few tips on building credit, utilizing loans and managing a budget, all while being a college student.

Hubbard says it’s never too early to start establishing your credit score. Your credit score comes alive as soon as you take out a loan, obtain a credit card, co-sign on a loan or accumulate any sort of debt.

Once you have obtained a credit history, there are many different factors that can affect it. Transactions and expenses are a couple of factors. Another factor is the length of time it takes to make loan payments or any other monthly payment, like utility bills or rent. Payments made on time present a positive history. Payments made after the due date can show negatively on a credit report, with the possibility of your credit score lowering due to the delayed payment(s). Even shutting down a credit card after a short period of time could potentially lower your credit score.

When it comes to choosing a credit card, various companies try to persuade college students with bold promises of rewards. Opening a credit card is not necessarily a bad idea, as long as students are confi dent enough in managing their money to pay monthly bills and expenses. Some credit cards are intended specifically for students and have lower credit limits so that you can avoid incurring significant debt while learning how to manage credit wisely.

Hubbard said students should focus on building credit rather than accumulating rewards.

Each card is designed with specific rewards and limits, so it takes time and knowledge to choose the best card for you.

“Be strategic about choosing a card that benefits you,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard gave the example of a card reward that can help pay back student loans. Essentially, paying your bills on time results in a reward of $5, or whatever given amount, going straight toward paying your student loans. A card with this kind of straightforward reward would be ideal for college students.

One stipulation to applying for a credit card is you’ll need to show income for repayment. Since not all college students have a steady job, you might consider being added as an authorized signer on someone else’s card. If you’re added to a parent’s credit card, you can make purchases and pay your parent back. Then when they pay the bill on time, you’ll start to build a credit score too.

At Franklin Bank and Trust Company, they believe knowing your banker provides the ultimate banking experience. A banker who cares about your financial situation will be able to serve as a trusted mentor when you’re making financial decisions.

“Building a relationship with a banker is important,” Hubbard said.