Credit Card Advice for College Students
In college and you finally have a shiny new credit card to call your own? It’s a big and exciting step, your way to buying that perfect loveseat you just have to have or that watch you’ve been dying to get your hands on. What any new credit card holder fails to understand is that this money you have in the shape of an 86 × 54 mm piece of plastic is not money that belongs to you. It is the money that you have borrowed from the credit card issuer or lender that you ultimately have to repay, with interest.
While credit cards are great tools of financial security and an investment for the future as they help build up your credit score, they are also confusing little things that trap you into their webs of debt that can sometimes take years for you to get out of.
Simply because you now have the means to buy ‘everything you ever wanted’ does not justify going on reckless spending sprees. Your credit history will play a vital role in a number of financial determinations throughout your life so it’s good to have a responsible attitude and learn all the helpful habits from the get-go.
The first thing to do is to take control of your spending, make a budget and stick to it. If you know where your money is going and you have a plan for that money you’ll have a much better idea just how much you should be charging within a particular month. If there is anything that doesn’t fall within the barriers of your budget and you can’t afford it then don’t use your credit card to buy it.
Make timely payments, always, preferably a week before the due date at the end of the month. If you develop the habit of clearing any balance payments before the month is up trust me you’ll be very happy in the long run. This decreases your chances of raking up huge amounts of debt in terms of interest fees that you will be hard pressed to pay off.
Set up an online payment account through any credit union available to you at school. This will make it so much to easier to manage timely payments without having to search through notes and papers and books for receipts and bills. This will also avoid you forgetting about them completely as it happens in out-of-sight-out-of-mind situations.
Don’t get overly excited at every credit increase. Responsible behavior will get you points and increase your credit score but if your budget and income isn’t growing to accommodate the increase in credit it’s not worth spending to the max and then crying over the bills.
Watch out for all kinds of unnecessary add-ons that your credit card company might want to lure you into, like a bunch of useless fee-based products. Pay attention to whatever materials the credit card issuer sends you, new credit information and agreements, annual fees or any information about those add-on services. If you’d rather not be caught by surprise then don’t dismiss anything as ‘junk’.
Never ever share your credit card information with anyone randomly asking for it. Be diligent and cautious before you hand it over to anyone, especially over the internet or phone. Only give your information to those you know you’ll be having constant contact with and if you should be so inclined to do some online shopping then always stop to verify if you are indeed on a secure website.
While you can’t have made it to college by being not smart it is a good idea to be overly cautious when it comes to matters of handling plastic money. Being responsible never hurt anyone as far as I know!