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The job of building or rebuilding your credit takes responsibility and hard work.

The important thing to remember while accomplishing this task is how you use credit matters. Unfortunately, the paperwork that comes along with a new line of credit doesn’t include a manual on how to use it responsibly. Even if you’ve learned about how credit misuse can get out of hand the hard way, the good news is you can always rebuild. If you’re new to the world of credit, learn how to establish good habits now and you’ll benefit from those for the rest of your life.

Getting Started

Credit is a marathon, not a sprint. Warm up and ease into it. Don’t get a card and max it out right away. In a perfect world, you should never max out a credit card, so make small purchases and pay the monthly balances in full. The goal here is to establish good credit habits and history, not make major purchases of things you can’t afford.

We suggest using your credit card for a monthly subscription service or recurring bill. The idea here is to use it for just this reason for the first six months you have it. Your future credit score will thank you, because you’ll stay under your limit and pay your balance every month.

Make bigger purchases when ready

When you’ve routinely paid your monthly bill in full, you’re now ready to use your credit line for larger purchases. You don’t want to go all out mind you, the guide here is to never go more than 30% of your credit limit. When you make this purchase, put the cash for your payment away so you don’t spend it on anything else and it’s ready to be paid in full, and you won’t have to wait until the statement arrives. The goal here is to have your payment processed and added to your account balance as soon as possible.

Several months later, with responsible usage, it is possible your creditor will increase your limit. Fight the urge to splurge and add more charges to your card and keep your limit within 30% of the maximum. Credit is a fickle thing, and your creditor can easily cut your limit as well.

Practice Self-Discipline

Self-Discipline is essential in using your credit card properly. If you know you won’t be able to pay your bill in full when it arrives, fight the urge to splurge on a large purchase. It’s important to know just because you have the money set aside, you simply haven’t received your bill yet. If just don’t trust yourself, make the payment as soon as the transaction posts to your account.

Another pitfall of credit is accepting every credit card offer coming your way. It is possible to stop credit card offers to rid yourself of the temptation completely, however, down the line if you want to evaluate better credit deals, you can always opt back in.

Monitor Your Activity

In this day and age, most credit card activity can be monitored online. Mobile apps may also be available so you can always have your balance and bill information in your hand. The key to keeping responsible credit is to know what works for you to keep on top of activity and payments so they don’t get behind or out of control.

What happens when I can’t pay my bill in full?

There will be times when an unforeseen circumstance comes along and you can’t pay your balance in full. Life happens. The key here is to make at least the minimum payment, but at the same time, don’t increase your balance with more credit charges.

In this situation, put your card away. When you can afford to make payments on what you owe and any new purchases, retrieve it, and continue to use it responsibly.

The Bottom Line

Remember building credit doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort to build and maintain. Practice patience and good habits with your credit, so you won’t have to face the monumental charge of repairing it in the future. The best part is you don’t have to do it alone. The staff at Kansas City Credit Union is ready and willing to help you on your credit journey! Ready to start establishing credit and put these tips to use? Apply for a Kansas City Credit Union credit card today.

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