The SLH CEO Finally Got a New Credit Card — Here’s Why

new credit card

Student Loan Hero CEO and co-founder Andy Josuweit has avoided credit cards for years — his past experiences had given him a healthy aversion to debt. That changed recently, however, when Andy signed up for a Chase rewards card.

But he’s not entering the credit card world recklessly; he has a plan to use his card wisely and avoid debt.

Below, find out what made him decide to apply for a new credit card and what his strategy is going forward.

Andy’s past credit card experiences

After graduating from college, Andy interned in Africa. When he got back to the States, he was broke.

Despite working as a waiter and putting in 14 hour days, he still struggled to make ends meet. To give himself a cushion, he signed up for a card. His credit limit was just $400, but at the time, he was so broke he couldn’t keep up with his payments.

“It took me two years to pay off the balance,” says Andy. “It just left a bad taste in my mouth. It was a very negative experience.”

And with $107,000 in student loans, Andy was overwhelmed with debt. As he dealt with unhelpful lenders and debt collectors, his credit was destroyed.

“Student loans ruined my credit,” says Andy. “Between my bad experience with my first credit card and my debt, my credit score was about 450.”

Paying off his debt and rebuilding his credit

Andy worked hard to pay off his debts. After launching his own company, he accelerated his payments to get his loans paid off as soon as possible.

“I finished paying off my loans in August of last year, and it was a huge moment for me,” says Andy. “That $107,000 experience made me very debt averse, and I have been focused on getting back to zero and having no debt.”

Andy did get a secured credit card to help build his credit. With a secured card, you deposit money into the account, and that money is your credit limit.

“You’re basically borrowing from yourself,” says Andy. “And it boosted my credit score by about 100 points.”

Over the past few months, Andy built his emergency fund and added to his savings. But he realized that the money he was saving was just sitting there and not earning any points or rewards. With a goal of buying a home in the future, he started to consider getting a regular credit card to help improve his credit score even more.

Deciding on a new credit card

With improved credit and a steady income, credit card companies inundated Andy with card offers.

“I was getting a lot of offers, but none of them excited me,” says Andy. “But then I saw the Chase Sapphire card. The company was offering a special promotion where you could get 100,000 points, with perks like airport lounge access. Since I travel a lot, it sounded like a good fit for me.”

When he visited a Chase bank branch, the teller explained the promotion was coming to an end and highlighted what rewards he could earn.

“There was a sense of urgency, but I was already shopping around and knew this card was a good deal,” says Andy.

He decided to apply for a Chase credit card, and was approved within minutes for a large credit line. Having access to that credit line should help Andy’s score.

“I’m excited to see what it will do to my credit score,” says Andy. “A better score can help me get a better mortgage interest rate, which could save me thousands.”

Managing his card

Just because he has a great new credit card doesn’t mean Andy’s going to start racking up a balance.

“I’m still very debt averse,” says Andy. “I’ll pay off my balance in full each month and use it solely for rewards. Chase makes auto-payments very easy, so that helps me manage my balance.”

But while Andy is happy with his decision, he does urge caution for anyone considering a new credit card.

“Make sure you are ready for a card. Sometimes, you’re just not,” says Andy. “People like the idea of rewards and points, but make sure you have the discipline not to rack up debt, and pay it off each month. Get a card for convenience and to build your credit, but do not spend money you don’t have.”

Applying for a new credit card

Before getting a new credit card like Andy, do your homework to find the best card for you. Choose a card with rewards that fit your lifestyle and come up with a strategy to pay off your debt in full to avoid building a balance or paying interest charges.

If you’re interested in building your credit and getting your first card, check out these credit card offers.

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.29% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 1, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.29% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 4.20% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2017, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.23%. Variable interest rates range from 6.02% – 15.97% (6.02% – 15.97% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of your loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with Citizens Bank at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, Citizens Bank checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Benefit: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
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5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
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