As a late bloomer to the financial game, I am happy to say after eight years of struggling with credit card debt, I have successfully built my credit score up to 800 and paid off the majority of my credit card debt. Now I am no finance expert or have the authority to tell you what you should and should not do with your money and credit cards, but I can tell you my personal finance story and the lessons I learned when it comes to managing credit cards.
I received my first secured credit card at age 21 with Discover and my second credit card with Wells Fargo. I have always been a spender, and at the time, I desperately needed extra cash to help pay off some of my college debts and expenses. I knew I was getting in more debt with all the extra cash, but I learned how to avoid student loan debts by applying for low-interest credit cards that had a limit of no more than $500.
Then after a few years of using those credit cards and paying off all my college debt, I moved up to the travel credit cards Southwest and Chase Sapphire Preferred when my credit score was at least 690+. I was able to get so many rewards and benefits from free flights and hotels using these two rewards cards. However, my credit card debt kept increasing as my limit did, and I was always in $6000-$8000 worth of credit card debt for three years after graduation and traveling the world.
In 2018, I moved to Los Angeles, CA, and decided it was time to take control of my finances and get serious with getting rid of all my credit card debt. I never maxed out my credit cards, but I would always pay off at least half of my debt each year. I had to also pay for a car note, which helped build my credit score as long as I paid it off each month.
My journey with credit cards has been a roller coaster, but I have learned how to maintain my credit score while still being in debt over the past ten years of my life. Everyone thinks you cannot build a good credit score while being in debt, but I am here to tell you that you absolutely can if you know how to manage your debt and learn to progress and improve rather than go all in or lose all you got.
Let’s get straight into it.