Going away to college is an exciting time in any young persons life. For most, college is the first time you will live away from your parents, and while the freedom can be exhilarating, it is important to make good financial decisions amidst the chaos of day to day life. Many credit card companies prey on naive students, pushing them into thousands of dollars of avoidable debt.
Most parents neglect to talk to their children about credit cards before sending them off to live in a dorm. The students are then inundated with offers from various credit card companies offering enticing rewards programs and high credit limits while minimizing the importance placed in interest rates. It is easy for any college student to get caught up in the thrill of having their own credit card, but carelessness can cause years of financial pain.
Below you’ll find three things every college student should know about credit cards. These three important pieces of information will change the way you look at credit cards.
Credit Card Companies Are Not Your Friend
They give short-term loans with high interest rates. College students don’t typically have credit, making them targets for high rates. Carefully read the fine print with any credit card, and disregard the promotional interest rates or enticing rewards programs. The point of getting a credit card in college should be to build credit, not to make lavish purchases now and pay later.
Look at the credit card as a debit card. Only make purchases with it if you have the money in the bank to pay off the debt immediately. Though the credit card companies would like you to start making large purchases immediately, you should really only make one small purchase you can easily pay off each month.
You Don’t Need Credit Cards, They Need You
Don’t put yourself in a position where you need the credit card. Learn to live within your means, and never be forced to charge something. Credit card companies rely on customers to make money through interest charges, so they need you, not the other way around.
If you ever get in the position where you feel like your spending is uncontrolled or the urge to charge something is too great, cut your cards up immediately. You can always have them replaced, but sometimes out of sight is out of mind.
Set A Spending Limit On Your Credit Card
Setting a spending limit on your card is a great way to ensure you never spend more than you can afford. Call your credit card company and ask them to put a limit on your charges. Don’t feel silly if your limit is low, the credit card companies have heard it all before. Keeping your financial sanity is worth an awkward phone call.
Keeping in charge of your financial health is important for any college student. Once you graduate, you’ll be buried under mounds of student debt, so there’s no need to add excessive credit card debt to an already heavy burden.
There’s a variety of credit cards available that will be able to accommodate your needs. But before you sign up, make sure to compare credit cards online first. There are so many out there that it would be in your best interest to get the best deal.