The typical college student these days has begun to think of a credit card as an “essential accessory,” along the lines of food, water and air to breathe. As a student, your main responsibility is to maintain your grade point average. If you can do that and still spend a few hours a week with a part-time job, all the better. If not, you still have to keep gas in the car, do your own laundry, eat at least enough to stay alive, and pay for those pricey textbooks. The almighty credit card makes it all possible.
Sure credit cards also make it easier to take advantage of sales on grocery items – which we all know is foremost in every student’s mind. But also a credit card is the opportunity to build a credit history, which is actually a really important step in establishing financial independence from your parents (especially if the student happens to be fortunate enough not to have enormous student loans established in his or her own name). Students are handed applications as they walk from class to class, credit card information is left on their food tray in the campus cafeteria, and it is stuffed into the bag along with the receipt with each textbook purchase in the bookstore.
What the student must be wary of, however, is that while some deals come from reputable banks, others just sound too good to be true for good reason: they aren’t so great once you look at the fine print. Representatives are getting more and more aggressive pursuing the business of college students, and why not? They are an excellent risk, if you think about it – not only are they more likely to have a decent job lined up before they even graduate, but also their parents or sponsors are likely to lend a hand with debts they accrue while in school. All of that pressure to sign gets confusing but while some savvy students walk away, others fall prey to fast and hard marketing tactics and wind up paying dearly for it in the end.
This is the “Internet generation,” and young adults are more comfortable getting their information by conducting on-line research. When it comes to shopping for the best credit card deal, you can find a wide selection of offers with easy on-line applications.
Why listen to several boring sales pitches, when you can get just the information you need on-line? You can look up credit card information when you have time, after class – or after midnight – because with on-line research, it’s available anytime.
You can also find on-line sites that literally set up comparison charts of the features of every credit card that interests you. You’ll definitely want to find the credit cards with no annual fee and the lowest possible APR (annual percentage rate) on the balance. After reading book after book after book for school, students may not always read the fine print on the credit card application carefully. Some credit cards start with zero APR for six months, but then you’ll get slammed by interest rates from 15-26 percent.
As great as it is to turn 18 or 21, you don’t get the full benefit of adulthood until you begin building credit. That’s why it’s worthwhile to get your first credit card in your name as soon as possible and start establishing good credit. That means you definitely don’t go on-line and get another credit card just because the one you have is at its limit. Use your credit responsibly, and you’ll get bigger rewards down the line like developing a good credit history so you can buy your own home or get a sports car with the salary you earn when you graduate and begin your new career!