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College Students & Credit Cards

College can be a costly endeavor, but well worth it at the end. The problem is, a lot of college students end up with student loan debt that is piled high. You don't want to add to that debt unless you have to. If you are a college student and don't have a credit card, just wait, you will get many offers. Be aware of the dangers of having credit cards and using them as a college student.

The less debt you have at the end of college, the better. College students need to watch what they purchase with credit cards. Don't buy movie tickets. Don't pay for pizza. Avoid using your credit card for fun purchases. You will be repaying this over time. How many years do you want to have to pay off all those pizzas? 20 years?

While in college, you should use your credit card only as a stop gap measure to pay for needed things in college. Books can be expensive. Buying textbooks for college can be a good use for your credit card. But, if you can pay for these out of your financial aid, avoid putting them on a credit card. Do not waste your financial aid cash on fun, and put your textbooks on a credit card!

Okay. We know that credit card will be burning a hole in your pocket. That's why you should actually avoid credit cards in college. If you must have cash for fun, get on a budget. A credit card budget. Put a limit on the amount you will charge each month you are in college. You also need to factor in the monthly payment into your cash budget as well.

Choosing a credit card in college.
College campuses can get swamped with credit card offers for students. Credit card companies will set up tables, give away caps or t-shirts, just to get you to sign on the dotted line. Many companies almost guarantee you a credit card if you are a college student. So beware of the terms.

Find the cheapest interest rate. Ask!
What are the yearly fees, late charge, etc. Avoid a yearly fee if possible.
Do you make cash advances? Those fees can add up.

The payment plan on college credit cards
If you make the minimum payment while in college, and still make purchases, when you graduate you could still owe the entire amount of what you charged. You will have made hundreds of dollars in payments, but most will have gone to interest. Not only do you still owe for what you charged, but your wallet is smaller for this privilege. The best thing you can do is to make maximum payments and minimum charges. If you go wild in the first month and charge $1,000, you are now owing a huge bill that will be carried for many years of your life. And then you may be tempted to get another credit card.

Ways to avoid problems with college student credit cards
Leave the credit card at home when shopping or browsing. You will avoid silly impulse purchases.
If you can't afford it, don't charge it unless you can pay it off.
Read the entire contract. You may get slammed for fees you don't know about.
Pay as much as you can to avoid interest piling up.

Lock the credit card away and only use it for emergencies requiring cash.

Your college may offer financial managment classes for students. Take one.

Final word on college students and credit cards
Protect your credit history! Your employer may do a credit check and deny you a job if your credit rating stinks. And you certainly want to buy a car, house, etc. Do not let a student credit card ruin your financial future for life


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