Establishing Credit


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How to travel like a king on a college student’s budget

For many college students, getting to school required a flight–either across the country or around the globe. Although skipping the airport security lines, getting a relaxing massage before boarding the plane early, and having a private lie-flat bed on your way back to school might seem like a fantasy, it doesn’t have to be.

Most credit card companies offer lucrative sign-up bonuses to woo new customers. With an established credit history, you can take advantage of sign-up bonuses to travel like a king: just follow these four simple steps.

1. Build your credit

If you don’t have an established credit history, the first step is to begin building your credit. Consider applying for a “secured credit card.” Secured credit cards require you provide an initial deposit and then issue you a line of credit equal to that amount. While these cards are great for establishing credit, they don’t offer great rewards programs, so you’ll want to avoid using them once you can get approved for other cards.

Charge cards are another great way to build your credit. Unlike credit cards, which allow you to carry a balance, charge cards must be paid in full every month. This reduces the lending agency’s risk, making them more inclined to approve younger applicants with less credit history.

2. Set a travel goal

Once you’ve established your credit history, set your first travel goal. Dream big! If you’re planning to study in Europe next year, for instance, you might like to travel internationally in business class. Setting this goal–and a deadline–is essential to planning your credit card application(s).

3. Research current credit card offers

Credit card companies often change their sign-up bonuses to lure in new customers. Fortunately, a number of online blogs like “The Points Guy” monitor these offers. Citi, for instance, is offering a 50,000 American Airlines “AAdvantage” miles to new applicants who spend $3,000 in three months. Those 50,000 miles are enough for a business class ticket from New York to Paris, which costs more than $7,000!

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