We are aware that some of our Family First VISA card holders who are signed up for eStatements received a paper statement for the month of January. These members should have received their January VISA eStatements also and will not receive a paper statement fee. We’re working with our vendor to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future. We apologize for this error. 

All Family First branches and the call center will be closing early at 1:00 PM on Monday, April 8 due to the full solar eclipse happening that afternoon. We hope you enjoy the eclipse!  

Family First Debit and Credit Cards are currently experiencing an issue where transactions are not going through. We are working to resolve this and apologize for the inconvenience.

Intro to Credit: Building Credit After High School

Last Updated

August 9, 2021

Written By

Morgan Kulikowski

As you prepare to leave high school and enter adulthood, the life changes you face can often be overwhelming. If you plan on going away for college, you’re suddenly faced with financing an education, moving away from home, and you’ll likely be paying bills for the very first time.

Our goal is to make the transition as smooth as possible as you navigate this new territory, while also setting you up for financial success. Let us help you prepare for real-life finances, such as:

  • Paying for college
  • Choosing the right credit card
  • Buying your first car
  • Paying bills
  • Banking away from home
Man counting college savings fund, tuition fee or student loan with calculator. Education price and expenses concept. Money and papers on table.

First thing’s first – we need to start establishing credit!

What is credit, you ask? Credit scores are used to determine how likely a person is to make payments for debts, goods, and services. Scores range between 300 and 850 – the higher the score, the better. Generally, a score above 700 is considered good. Most service providers (landlords, car dealerships, insurance companies, utility companies) will look at your credit prior to giving you any services. It’s important to build a strong credit history early on and maintain it throughout your life. Click here for more information about establishing and and understanding credit.

Once you turn 18, you become an eligible borrower – this means you can apply for credit cards, auto loans, etc. However, as a new borrower, you’re faced with one major road block: You don’t have any credit history! Without an established credit history, it’s challenging to get a lender to agree to giving you credit. This is where Family First comes in! We offer a variety of products and services that are designed with our new borrowers in mind, so that you can start building healthy credit right away. Check out these 5 products and services Family First offers to help you get your account campus-ready!

  1. Student Loans 

Family First has partnered with LendKey to provide low-cost private student loans that are designed to meet your education needs! Students can borrow as little as $2,000 all the way up to $120,000 for undergraduate loans. In graduate loans, you can borrow up to $160,000! Once you’ve exhausted all of your Federal Loan options, this is a great solution to cover any remaining education costs such as tuition, books, room and board, and more. These loans do require borrowers to make a minimum monthly payment of $25, but the advantage to this is you start building your credit history right away! The application process is quick and easy, with fast turn-around times. Visit www.familyfirstny.com/student-loans for more information!

  1. Secured Credit Cards

Secured credit cards are a great option for new borrowers with limited or no credit history, looking for a low-risk credit opportunity. Family First’s Secured VISA Classic uses your funds as collateral, allowing even the newest borrower to start establishing credit. Have some leftover graduation money? We’ll put it on hold in your account, and after 6-8 months of on time payments you can apply for the standard VISA Classic. At that time, we remove the hold on your funds, it becomes a regular credit card, and you’ve officially started establishing credit!

  1. First Time Auto Buyer Program

The First Time Auto Buyer Program is designed for new borrowers who have never had an auto loan before. This program rewards new borrowers when they make on time payments, with added incentives and lower interest rates. To qualify for this unique program, borrowers must have:

  • At least 18 months of consistent work history to show steady income
  • At least 20% down payment on the vehicle

After closing, our loan officers keep track of your payments to make sure they’re all made on time. After 12 months of on time payments, if your credit score has increased, you have an opportunity to refinance at no cost (this could get you a reduced interest rate and lower monthly payment or give you an opportunity to put the vehicle in your own name if you had a cosigner previously). At this time, you are also pre-approved for a VISA Classic with a $1,000 credit limit. And after 24 months of on time payments you earn a $50 VISA gift card!

  1. Bill Pay

Bill Pay is a service available within your Online Banking at Family First. This allows you to set up one time or reoccurring payments to different companies, so that you can ensure that your payments are received on time every month! It’s 100% free and setting up payments is quick and easy. There’s enough to stress about and remember when you’re away at school – there’s no need to worry about whether you remembered to send your payment in anymore when you set up Bill Pay!

Have a loan with Family First? You can set up automatic payments for that too! Ask a representative for details!

  1. Shared Branching

As you prepare to head off to school, you’ll want to do your research and find a local credit union near campus that participates in Shared Branching. Shared Branching is a network of credit unions that allows you to access your funds anywhere in the country at participating locations. By taking advantage of shared branching, you can avoid ATM fees and handle all your banking while you’re away at school while keeping your accounts with Family First! You can find these locations by using the Family First Free Mobile App or by visiting the website at www.co-opsharedbranch.org and searching by zip code to find the closest branch and ATM.

Understanding and maintaining credit early on is important in securing a healthy financial future.  By utilizing these products and services offered by Family First, you can rest assured that you’re starting this next chapter of your life with your best foot forward.

For credit guidance, our certified Financial Counselors are available to answer questions and steer you in the right direction. We’re ready to help you get started on your financial journey! Click the button below to schedule your free appointment today.


Morgan started her banking career with Family First in 2018. She is a Financial Service Representative based out of our East Rochester branch and has worked alongside various departments and committees within the credit union, giving her an expansive set of skills and knowledge to help you reach your financial goals. She is committed to helping her members and community by offering financial guidance and support wherever she can, both within the credit union walls and out in the world.

Looking for More Articles?

You are now leaving https://home.familyfirstny.com/

By accessing this link you will be leaving the Family First Federal Credit Union’s website and entering a website hosted by another party. Family First Federal Credit Union is not responsible for its products, services, or overall website content. We encourage you to read and evaluate the privacy and security policies of the site you are entering, which may be different than those of Family First Federal Credit Union. If you choose to conduct business there, you will be conducting business with another party’s website.