St. Charles Herald-Guide

MONEYTALK with Al Suffrin

By Al Suffrin - February 14, 2007

Dear Mr. Suffrin: I am 17 years old and got my first credit card a year ago.

My parents thought that it would be a good idea to get the card to help build my credit.

I carry a small balance of $100 to show that I can make the scheduled monthly payments.

Is this a good way for me to build my credit? - Curious in Luling

Dear Curious: Credit cards can help you build and maintain a strong credit history.

However, you should make payments on time, stay within your credit limit, and try to pay your balance in full each month.

You should use credit wisely by asking yourself the following questions before purchasing with credit:

Is this something I really need, and do I need it now? Do I have the ability to repay? How long will it take me to repay? How much will it ultimately cost me (considering credit card interest)?

Also keep in mind that credit cards increase the chance of identity theft if your card is lost or stolen.

Students' questions about finances answered - only in the St. Charles Herald-Guide. Financial expert and school board member-elect Al Suffrin, a certified public accountant, takes on the tough questions from parish kids- and their parents - in an important weekly column everyone should read.

Send YOUR questions to: editor@heraldguide.com or write: MONEYTALK, P.O. Box 1199, Boutte, LA