A secured credit card can help you build credit — but that’s not the only way it can benefit your financial present and future. Consider these seven financial habits that a secured credit card can help you cultivate and continue throughout your financial life.

1. Learn to Manage Credit Line Use

Your secured credit card issuer may allow you to charge up to the credit line you’ve been extended — but that doesn’t mean you should. Your utilization rate (sometimes called your debt utilization or credit utilization ratio) is the amount of credit you use, compared to your available credit. The Experian Team explains that because a high utilization rate can make you appear like a risky borrower who is too reliant on credit (which may lower your credit score), it’s best to keep your utilization rate as low as possible.

Andrew Marshall, investment advisor and founder of Andrew Marshall Financial, LLC, recommends using your secured credit card to pay for a couple of smaller purchases each month so you know you can easily pay the bill off and, by doing so, learn to manage your credit use. “It may sound counterintuitive, but paying off a small, consistent bill each month will do more to build your credit than making a large purchase and trying to prove that you can handle more credit,” says Marshall.

2. Build a Sustainable Positive Credit History

According to Equifax, the age of your credit history is calculated based on an average that includes “how long both your oldest and your most recent accounts have been open.”

Because a credit card account is considered “new” for the first year you own it and could temporarily lower your credit score, Equifax says that a person with several new credit accounts and a short credit history could see more negative credit score impact than a person with older accounts and a longer history.

You may eventually own several unsecured credit cards, but when you’ve become accustomed to owning just one secured credit card, you may be better prepared to resist the lure of credit card offers that promise discounts at the point of sale, but won’t support your longer-term financial goals.

3. Make Budgeting Part of Your Financial Life

Just under half of the credit card owners surveyed by the Federal Reserve said they currently have outstanding credit card debt. Of those, 31 percent have more debt than they did a year earlier, and 39 percent have about the same amount. Learning to manage card use based on your budget is key to making sure you don’t join their ranks.

“Using a secured credit card can teach you to track your budget,” says Marshall. “There are a lot of budget apps available, including your bank’s app. It can be easy to forget you paid for something on a credit card and then get surprised by it when the monthly bill arrives. Routinely using an app to check your spending will help you avoid any surprises and overspending.”

4. Save for Longer-Term Goals

It may take some discipline to save the deposit required to open a secured credit card. As Psychology Today explains, this act of setting a goal, working toward and achieving it are critical steps in early habit formation; making saving part of your financial life is no different.

Once you “graduate” to an unsecured credit card, consider moving the funds you originally used to secure the credit line on your secured credit card into an interest-bearing savings account. Contribute money to the account from each paycheck (even if you can only afford small amounts), to continually strengthen your savings habit.

Set a series of goals you want to reach, like building an emergency fund, saving money to afford a large purchase or to pay for an upcoming trip. Set larger goals to work toward at the same time, like building a retirement savings account balance or saving to make a down payment on a home. Check your balances regularly to measure the progress you’re making and to reinforce the habit of saving.

5. Read the Fine Print

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s 2017 Consumer Credit Card Market Report revealed that cardholders with a credit score between 660 and 719 consistently had average balances exceeding $8,000 per cardholder. “A consumer revolving that amount at the 19 percent APR typical of prime general purpose accounts incurs about $127 in interest charges each month,” wrote the CFPB. The report also reveals that “more than nine-tenths of general purpose revolving balances and more than half of private label revolving balances” were subject to variable rates. (This means the interest rate could increase, raising the cost of carrying balances on those cards.)

Sorting through your secured credit card options requires effort, but it also teaches you to read, compare and understand the potential impact that credit card terms, interest rates and fees have on the cardholder. When you begin receiving more offers to apply for new credit, you’ll be better positioned to sort through the marketing messages and understand what terms you’re really being offered.

6. Lean on the Right Money Management Tools

Your secured credit card is a perfect training ground to learn which money management tools fit your financial personality. Prefer not to deal with paper statements, mail or even a physical wallet? Electronic account statements, online banking and mobile wallet apps may help you keep your financial life in order.

Afraid you’ll miss an electronic statement in a crowded email inbox, or don’t have consistent access to a computer or a secure Wi-Fi connection? Then you may prefer paper statements, and a more traditional budgeting and payment system. When you understand what financial systems work for your life, you can better manage it.

7. Monitor Your Credit Consistently

Your secured credit card activity is reported to the three major credit bureaus, and 99 percent of Discover it® Secured cardmembers who don’t have a FICO® Credit Score receive their score on their statements within nine months.1 In addition, by federal law, you’re entitled to review a free copy of your credit report once a year.

These credit monitoring tools help you see how your financial choices impact your credit score and history. With regular monitoring of both, you’re better prepared to manage your credit, spot any signs of credit reporting errors and preempt potential fraud attempts.

While a secured credit card may seem to be just another way to apply for credit, when used properly, it may be much more than a secured card; it can be the foundation for your financial future.

1 – Discover cardmembers receive a FICO® Credit Score  for free online and on monthly statements. The FICO® Credit Score 8 and key factors are based on data from TransUnion and may be different from other credit scores. This information is intended for and only provided to Primary cardmembers who have an available score. See Discover.com/FICO about the availability of your score. Your score and key factors are available on Discover.com and your score is provided on statements. You will see up to a year of recent scores online starting when you become a cardmember. Discover and other lenders may use different inputs, such as a FICO® Credit Score, other credit scores and more information in credit decisions. This benefit may change or end in the future. FICO is a registered trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.

Your FICO® Credit Score and key factors are based on data from TransUnion and may be different from other credit scores. This information is intended for and only provided to Primary cardmembers who have an available score. See Discover.com/FICO about the availability of your score. Your score and key factors are available on Discover.com and your score is provided on statements. You will see up to a year of recent scores online starting when you become a cardmember. Discover and other lenders may use different inputs, such as a FICO® Credit Score, other credit scores and more information in credit decisions. This benefit may change or end in the future. FICO is a registered trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation of the United States and other countries.

Discover Financial Services and Fair Isaac are not credit repair organizations as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. Discover Financial Services and Fair Isaac do not provide "credit repair" services or assistance regarding "rebuilding" or "improving" your credit record, credit history or credit rating.