Featured Voicemail: Building credit

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants customers to understand their credit cards better. So, they've unveiled a new and shorter prototype of a credit card agreement.

Marketplace Money listener Nick is 29 years old and single, has 2 masters degrees worth of debt totaling around $60,000, and has paid off about $30,000 of that already. Nick doesn't have much credit card debt though, because he rarely uses them. When he does use a credit card, he immediately pays off the balance that week, to make sure he doesn't accrue interest.

Because of that, his credit limit is very low, at $2,200. After his loans are paid off, Nick wants to buy a home, but he's worried that since he hasn't built up a strong credit record, he'll be unable to get a home loan.

Here's Carmen's advice for credit-neophytes: "Find a card and use it just for one thing on your budget, or two. I call it your GG card, your gas and groceries. So you rotate a couple of cards through your budget that you just use for certain particular expenses, so you don't go crazy. Shop around for cards that give you some points or reward points. You don't have to be credit-phobic, you just have to gotta know how to use credit right. Give yourself a little time when you get into this business, and you will be just fine getting that home."

About the author

Carmen Wong Ulrich is the former host of Marketplace Money, APM’s weekend personal finance program.

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