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USE YOUR CREDIT WISELY

Establishing good credit is a great idea, and you'll need it all your life. Start out the right way. Here's how:

  • Pay on time.

  • Pay as much as you can, and always pay more than the minimum payment.

  • Don't get cash advances with a credit card. Interest is added immediately when you borrow this money.

  • If you can't pay your bill, call the credit card company as soon as you can. They usually will work with you to get the bill paid off without hurting your credit rating.

  • Keep your credit cards as safe as you would cash.

  • Don't loan your credit card to anyone, not even your best friend. You are liable for all charges, although some cards make you pay only the first $50 of unauthorized expenditures.

  • If you lose your card, call the company that issued it and report it immediately (be sure you keep a statement, so you have the number to call handy).

  • Don't ever give out your credit card number over the phone or the Internet, unless you initiated the call or visited a site to purchase something over a secure network.

  • When you pay for something with your card, watch as the person who takes it processes the transaction. Lately thieves have been swiping cards to copy the numbers and your name, and then using your information to make fraudulent purchases.

  • Review your credit report every year. What's a credit report? A credit report shows how much debt you have now and how much you've had in the past. It shows whether you have made payments on time. And it documents any loans you have not paid back at all. Why review it? Because like everybody, credit-reporting agencies make mistakes—mistakes that could affect your ability to get loans.

To get a copy of your credit report, contact one of the following credit reporting organizations (most charge a small fee):

Here are Other Areas to Link to:

CREDIT CARD: HANDLE WITH CARE
INTEREST: THE FINE PRINT
TERMS AND FEES
CONTROL YOUR SPENDING

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