Credit Card Advice for Freshman College Students

Many high school and college students apply for their first credit card while in their freshman year. Even with the new changes to the credit card law, many teenagers are still encouraged to get a student credit card instead of wait until they’ve graduated.

Because a co-signer is required for those who are below 21 years old, parents can now monitor their child’s credit card applications and help out with the process. Before owning a credit card, teenagers must realize the responsibilities associated with being a cardholder.

Remember that by using student credit cards smartly, not only can you enjoy the convenience of paying with credit cards, you can also build a solid foundation for your personal credit history. Take a look at the following advice:

Plan it out.

If you own a student credit card, you must avoid unplanned purchases. Give yourself at least a week or two to seriously consider if it is really something worth paying with your credit card. The questions below should be able to help you decide the matter:

  1. Will this particular purchase be relevant to my schooling?
  2. Do I have the means to pay it back by myself?
  3. Or do I have to ask my parents for help with repayment?
  4. Is it really something I need or something I want?

Get to know your student credit card well. Your credit card can either become your friend or your enemy, depending on how you control it. Like a true friend does, you should get to know as much as you can about your credit card.

For instance, do you know . . .

  • How much is the APR applicable to purchases, balance transfers and cash advances?
  • How much is they penalty fee for being late with your payment?
  • How much is the annual fee?
  • If the current low interest rate is subject to change after six months?
  • If your payments will be reported to the major credit bureaus so you can build up your credit history?

Before signing up, make sure that you are clearly aware of the Terms and Conditions of your Issuer. If there are terms that you don’t understand, you can ask your parents to explain them to you, especially if they are co-signing your account.

Say no to multiple cards. Trying to manage three or more student credit cards can be very difficult especially since if you do not have a source of income. It also increases the risk of bad credit since you may be tempted to leave a balance on each of your cards.

Hence, young people are advised to start with one credit card for student as a tool for building credit history. Even if you get offers in your mail from various Issuers, do not sign up unless you’re ready for another credit card.

About the Author

Samantha Wilson is a consultant for credit cards for students. For years she has written student credit card articles that would help build student credit.

Copyright 2010

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