Is a Credit Card Right for Students?

q1112You’ve decided to get a higher education. You’ve taken the time to research what school you want to attend, what subjects you want to take, what career you want to pursue, and what all this is going to cost you.

If you’re really wise, you’ll come up with a plan as to how you’re going to pay for all of this. There are many avenues to pursue. Grants, student loans, scholarships, jobs, and parents are all possibilities.

One door that will open up to you, almost as soon as you arrive on campus, is getting a credit card. Let’s look at how this can impact not only your college life but your future.

What are some of the advantages of a credit card?
The number one advantage is convenience. If you have an emergency, need to purchase something online or by telephone, or need the safety of not carrying cash, credit cards fit the bill. Credit cards can also help you establish a credit history.

This can be either good or bad, depending on how the card is used and how it’s paid. Your credit history will follow you all of your life.

What are the disadvantages?
The number one, two, and three disadvantages are . . . debt . . . debt . . . and more debt! There are other disadvantages as well. With credit cards comes the temptation of spending more money than you have.

Although $3,500 may seem like a lot, you can reach it easily when you start treating your friends to pizza, buying clothes, buying CDs, and decorating your room. In fact, $3,500 is probably a pretty conservative number.

If you accumulate large amounts of credit card debt and are unable to pay it off, it can affect your credit rating for many years. A poor credit rating can affect many areas of your life, including getting a job, buying a house, or even finishing school. Before you ever obtain a card, decide what you’re going to use it for and how you’re going to pay for it.

How can you avoid getting yourself into trouble with this “convenient” money? One thing to remember is that a credit card has to be paid back . . . with interest.

One avenue to explore is the use of a debit card, which is issued by most banks. Any time you use it, the amount will automatically be deducted from your checking account.

Another option offered by some banks is a credit card that’s been prepaid by your parents. They’re notified every time you make a transaction, and you can only use the amount of money that’s “loaded” into the card.

If, after weighing all the pros and cons, you decide you still want to have a credit card, use it wisely. Be sure you review the bill once it comes in and pay it before the deadline. Only charge as much as you can pay off when the bill comes. If circumstances arise that you do have to charge more, pay more than the minimum charge in order to avoid accumulation of interest.

Don’t let credit card debt and a poor credit rating haunt your future. Use good judgment . . . either decide not to use a credit card or to use it sparingly. It’s your future that’s at stake.

Did you know that if you are 18 years old, charge $3,500 at 18 percent interest, and only make the minimum payment, you will be 45 years old by the time you pay the charges off? Not only that, but you will have paid almost $8,000 in interest on top of the original $3,500. If you charge even more than that, it multiplies dramatically.