According to the United States General Accounting Office, an estimated 64% of US college students today have at least one credit card. Of the total, 42% don’t pay their bill in full each month, thus they often carry average balances of around $577. And considering that half of the nation’s college students graduate with $19,400 in student loan debt, credit card payments can be a painful, added burden to them. Here are a few helpful hints on what college students should consider before applying for student credit cards.
What College Students Can Expect When Owning Student Credit Cards
Today, many US college students frequently encounter credit card offers on the college campus, as well as in their everyday out-of-school activities. Credit issuers usually send their credit card offers to students through the mail, tables or campus billboards during athletic events, college publications, and bookstore flyers. In most US states, students can apply for and receive cards even without the consent of their parents. And with so many retail outlets and establishments for creditors to reach students, along with very few restrictions, the use of credit cards among college students has rapidly increased. However, the irresponsible use of student credit cards can affect the student’s academic life. For example, if the bills pile up, and the student has no other source of income, the debt will pile up, and they’ll be faced with larger payments than they bargained for.
What to Consider Before Applying for Student Credit Cards
- According to financial experts, students should first be informed about the dangers of credit card spending while in college. Some students who even had part-time jobs, were reported to rack up too much debt, to the point that they couldn’t afford to pay them off already. Here’s what to consider before applying for student credit cards.
- Do Your Research. Don’t just take the first credit card that’s shown to you. Do some research and analysis, and compare the different credit cards offered. Find out if the card has no annual fee, or has lower interest rates, just in case you need to carry a balance.
- Apply and Use Only One Credit Card. With one card and one credit limit, the student will avoid racking up too much debt. And by having one card, the student will find it easier to keep track of their payments, and how much they owe.
- Use the credit card for emergency purposes. Make sure to use the card only for medical services, travel home, or school expenses and other emergency purposes that can be paid off by your student loan, or by your part-time job (or through the help of your parents).
- Evaluate your monthly bill. If you find out that you’re using the credit card for groceries, transportation, entertainment or dining, you are not budgeting your money well. To learn more about how to use your student credit card, talk to your parents or relatives, or to a bank representative or financial counselor. Lastly, be realistic about your finances, and make sure that your student credit card won’t affect your studies, and your future credit standing.