Credit cards can be both exciting and scary at the same time, especially for young adults. While credit cards can and do open up some financial leverage — meaning that they effectively increase your purchasing power — the debt that comes along with that additional leverage can strike fear into the hearts of many.
And for good reason. Many people struggle with credit card debt, and once you get in fairly deep, it can be very difficult, and take many years, to get out. However, it is possible to use a credit card responsibly. In fact, it may be a good idea to open one up for a couple of key reasons.
First and foremost, a credit card can be a great tool to build your credit. There are numerous credit cards on the market for students or young adults which may be worth checking out. Some are secured, which means that the issuer will require a deposit in order to issue the card — that may help soothe the fears of those worried about burying themselves in credit card debt at a young age.
Money Vehicle has discussed the advantages of opening a credit card in past posts, especially the advantages of secured cards. The bottom line still remains true, too: Credit cards can be critical and important tools for building credit. You’ll need that credit at some point too, as you will likely look for a loan at some point to buy a car, a home, or even to pay for your education.
Financial Literacy and Credit
But again, using credit responsibly is the key. You don’t want to fall into a credit trap, bury yourself in debt (though there is such a thing as “good” debt, credit card debt doesn’t usually fall into that category), and struggle to get out. As such, one way to use the financial literacy skills and knowledge you’ve hopefully gleaned is to create a credit plan.
Your credit plan can complement, or be a part of your overall financial plan. It would work with your budget, or it could even take the shape of a simple payment schedule to make sure you’re making monthly payments and keeping your card active and the balance low. Ultimately, it’s all about paying attention and making sure you’re investing energy into your credit-building activities.
Remember: Paying off your debts, including credit card balances, is a relatively easy way to boost your credit score. That will help you down the road when you need to borrow money for other expenses. And even if you don’t end up using your credit card all that much, experts recommend that you keep it active and don’t cancel it — old credit accounts can also help your credit score!
So, while credit cards can be scary to some, they can also be powerful tools when used correctly. If you’re on the fence, you should take some time and look at your options. Reach out to a financial professional, too, for guidance — if you feel you’d benefit from it.
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