College Advice Blog

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Nov 6, 2012

Are credit cards wise for college students?


If you are heading away to your first year at college, you need to think about whether you want a credit card. There are a number of credit card companies that are going to be making you some tempting offers, but keep in mind that they do not always have your best interests at heart. Credit card debt from college can follow you around for years if you don’t know what you are doing right from the beginning, so take a moment to make sure that you know whether a credit card is right for you.

Pro: Emergency Money
Sometimes, you need to be able to put down two hundred dollars, and you need to do it very quickly. Emergencies do come up, and if your cash flow is not up to it, you might find that you are in a very tricky situation. For example, you might find that you need to fly home for a family emergency or you might find that there is a late tuition charge that you need to pay. A credit card can let you take care of the emergency without need to worry about whether you have enough ready cash on hand to take it.

Con: Encourages Easy Spending
It is hard to avoid temptation when it comes to what looks like easy money. You can tell yourself that you will keep your credit card for emergency situations only, but what happens when you are confronted by a really good deal, or a chance to pick up something that you have always wanted? The temptation to simply grab something up just because you can is pretty high, so be realistic with yourself. If you are someone who is prone to this kind of behavior, you may want to give the credit card a pass.

Pro: Building Up Good Credit
Eighteen is not too young to start building up good credit. Starting a credit card in college and then maintaining it well throughout your school years will put you in a fantastic place when you are ready to do things like purchase a car or buy a house. Even if they are not things that you are sure that you want, it is worth the effort it takes to get a card and to start developing a credit rating. To do this, you need to have a credit card, you need to use it and you need to pay it off regularly. This can ensure that you are ready to do what you want when you graduate.

Con: Poor Rates
Many of the credit cards that are available to college students are poor choices. They offer a long line of credit, but they have very, very high interest rates. On top of that, they are typically very unforgiving when it comes to missing payments, and the penalties can be very high. The thing to remember is that not all credit cards are created equal, and at the end of day, it is essential to choose one that works well for you. Some college students receive a credit card that is an extension of their parents’ cards, which often have better interest rates and more forgiving terms.

If you are someone who is headed off to be college, you probably want as much security as you can. A credit card can make a huge difference to how safe you feel, but remember that you also need to know how to use it wisely.

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About the Author
Byline:  Natalie Anderson understands how important it can be for students to have local credit repair help if they ever find themselves in a credit-related crisis.
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