Helping Students Make Informed Financial Decisions
Province Offers Tips to Build Strong Credit
Life after high school comes with a unique set of lessons in financial management. Whether studying full-time, starting an apprenticeship or renting your first place, developing smart financial habits now can lead to a more secure future.
With so many financial options available to students and young adults, it's important to learn how to manage money sensibly to build a strong credit record and limit additional debt.
Know Your Options
when choosing a credit card, be sure to consider:
- Interest rates - if you don't pay your balance off each month, you will be charged interest which can vary from card to card.
- Annual fees - some credit cards charge annual fees for special features such as travel insurance or rewards miles.
- Grace periods and penalties - the grace period is the time between the purchase date and the date that interest begins to accumulate. Watch out for fees and penalties for late or missed payments.
Use Credit Wisely
Credit cards may seem like an easy source of funds in case of an emergency, but you can easily run into trouble if you use credit irresponsibly or pay for big-ticket items like tuition or rent.
Ideally, pay credit card balances in full each month to avoid interest charges. If an urgent need and cash shortage means that's not possible, pay the minimum amount on time. Otherwise, you may do long-term damage to your credit score that takes years to rebuild.
Build a Solid Foundation
One important benefit of having smart financial habits is building a strong credit record for the future. Credit scores reflect how well a person handled repaying their credit in the past. The score is a three-digit number that is calculated by a number of factors including a person's payment history, what they currently owe and how long they've had credit.
By law, consumer reporting agencies must get consent before sharing a copy of your report. Your credit score impacts your ability to get a loan in the future, including mortgages, and could also affect your borrowing rates.
- Check your credit report annually for errors – it’s free!
- To improve a poor credit rating, pay off debts and allow time to pass to show that your payment habits have improved.
- The Ontario Securities Commission, an Ontario regulatory agency, offers handy financial resources for all stages of life, including after high school.
“Helping young adults make informed financial decisions is good for personal prosperity and economic growth. Improved financial literacy benefits all Ontarians. Our government is making resources available for students to learn about money management to help prepare more young people in making financial decisions that are right for them.”
“It’s important that postsecondary students make responsible borrowing decisions to pave the way for a strong credit record. That’s why our government is making sure Ontario’s students get the information they need in order to develop healthy financial habits for life.”