A Seaworthy Credit Card

Q: I read in the February issue that late payments and delinquencies can stay on your credit report for seven to 10 years and how you can counteract a negative impact by paying your bills on time and having at least one active credit card, which I don’t have. I am currently deployed overseas. Should I apply for a credit card while I am overseas?
-Via the Internet

A: Well, it depends. If you are stationed overseas and will be living there for a substantial amount of time, now would be a good time to build your credit profile by applying for a new credit. This is especially true if you know that in the near future, you might be making a major purchase such as a car or a home. Doing so will allow potential lenders to see that you have a solid credit history, which is how they determine the interest rate to offer you.

In addition, it’s a good idea to get a secured credit card if you’re building credit. A secured credit card is one in which you provide the money to open the account, say $250 to $500, and that equals the credit limit on the card. This is a good choice for anyone who is rebuilding or establishing credit because it puts a cap on the amount of money you can spend. With time, credit limits can be increased, but keep in mind that some or all of the available balance is based on your contribution to the account. For more information on rates, types of cards, and various creditors, log on to www.consumeraction.org and www.bankrate.com.