First credit card? Five key tips for college students.

4. What to do if you are denied

Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor / File
Beth O'Connell in this 2004 file photo had maxed out on her credit cards and had a $20,000 debt from college despite her full-time job as a public relations professional. Under a new law, you can check your credit score for free if you've been denied credit. You can work to improve your credit score or get a secured credit card.

If your application was denied or you received a higher interest rate on your card, you are entitled under new federal law to see your credit score for free. This regulation will also apply to any future loans or credit you apply for. Take this opportunity to check your credit score and review the factors provided that affected your credit. Work on improving your credit (like paying off car or students loans) and apply for another credit card in three to six months. Also, consider a secured credit card, which offers guaranteed approval to all applicants.

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