USAA Credit Card ImageMore than 1.8 million students are projected to graduate from college this May, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Many post-grads are starting from scratch when it comes to their credit score, which may present hurdles that take them by surprise when applying for a loan to make their first adult purchases. Below are a few tips from USAA to help recent graduates build credit and good financial habits.


  • Research your choices. With little or no credit history, your choices could be limited when it comes to loans or credit cards. Asking your parents or someone else with good credit to cosign on a low-limit credit card or opening a secured credit card may be a good option. When you apply for one of USAA’s secured cards, you’ll also be opening a USAA Bank two-year variable rate Certificate of Deposit (CD), which allows you to earn interest while also building a positive credit history.
  • Use credit to earn credit. You have to use credit to build a solid history. Once you have some credit accounts, it’s important to use but not abuse them by following two basic rules: Pay on time and don’t go over your credit limits. Try to keep balances low – at or below 25 percent of your total credit limit.
  • Know your score. Get in the habit of keeping an eye on your credit score, looking for fraudulent activity and reporting mistakes. USAA offers credit card holders access to a free monthly Vantagescore Credit Score and Credit Score Tracker, a tool that shows members how their score has changed over time.
  • Limit credit or loan applications. Applying for several lines of credit and loans within a short period of time can give lenders the impression that you’re in desperate need of money and may have trouble paying back the debt. Keep your number of applications at a minimum and only go for the opportunities that offer the best deal for you.