Consolidated Credit Helps Students Practice Safe Plastic

    Ten Steps to Handling Credit Wisely

    TORONTO, Sept. 2 /CNW/ - It's that time of year, when young adults head
back to university and college. For many, already accumulating substantial
student loans, offers of credit cards can seem like an easy solution to
immediate needs. Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada Inc., a
non-profit credit debt management and counselling agency offers some timely
    "We have clients who call us desperate to get out of debt and they are
still in university. We also have clients who began accumulating debt while
still in post-secondary school and never managed to pay it off," says Jeff
Schwartz, Executive Director of Consolidated Credit. "Building good credit is
important, but students should be aware of the pitfalls and know how to use
their credit cards properly."
    Consolidated Credit's experts reiterate that building good credit is an
important step in life, but students should be aware of the pitfalls and know
how to use their credit cards properly. "Without full-time employment credit
card debt can become very hard to manage," adds Schwartz. "When it comes time
to make those important purchases in life, such as a house or car, the cleaner
your credit rating, the better."

    Here are the experts' 10 steps for students to handle credit wisely.

    1.  Always remember that credit is a loan. It's real money that you must
        repay. Before you apply for the first card, decide what the card will
        be used for -- Emergencies only? School supplies? Determine how the
        monthly bills will be paid.

    2.  Go slowly. Get one card with a low limit and use it responsibly
        before you even consider getting another.

    3.  Try to pay off your total balance each month. Just paying the minimum
        is a trap: If you pay off a $1,000 debt on an 18 percent card by just
        sending in the minimum each month, it will take more than 12 years to

    4.  Shop around for the best deal.

    5.  Study your card agreement closely, and always read the fine print
        flyers enclosed with every bill. Credit card offers vary
        substantially, and the issuer usually can change the terms at will
        with 15 days notice.

    6.  Always pay on time. A single slip-up will place a black mark on your
        credit record -- and likely will cause your issuer to jack up your
        interest rate to the maximum.

    7.  Set a budget, follow it faithfully and watch how much you're paying
        on credit. A good rule of thumb is to keep your debt payments less
        than 10 percent of your net income after taxes. So if you take home
        $750 a month, spend no more than $75 a month on credit.

    8.  Keep in touch with your credit card company by calling them promptly
        when you move. In the event you must be late on a payment, call them
        beforehand. They want your business for life, so they may be willing
        to make alternate payment arrangements that won't leave a mark on
        your credit rating.

    9.  Close accounts you aren't using. Having available-but-unused credit
        counts against you when it comes time to buy big ticket purchases
        like a car. That's because lenders don't like it when you have the
        ability to go deep into debt quickly.

    10. At the first sign of credit danger, such as using one card to pay off
        another, make the card harder to use. Only carry it when you plan to
        use it, lock it up in an inaccessible place or entrust it to your

    Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada Inc is a non-profit,
registered charity with a mission to help people end financial crisis and
solve money problems through education and professional counselling.
Consolidated Credit is an industry leader that provides credit counselling and
debt management services throughout Canada. Consolidated Credit has helped
thousands of individuals and families deal with life-altering credit, debt and
financial issues.

For further information:

For further information: For interviews with Jeff Schwartz, please
contact Lindsey Low: (416) 915-5211,

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