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College Habit Forming For Future Credit Card Use

May 8, 2008
College is likely the time when a person has their own credit card without direct supervision. This can be a dangerous thing. If a student doesn't understand how fast credit card debt can rack up, they are in for a rude awakening. The credit card company doesn't care who owns the card or their financial experience level. The credit limit on college student cards are lower, which helps to keep debt lower, at least. None of this debt has to do with student loans, though. When any credit card debt at all is mixed with student loans, it seems to magnify the effect. Paying back a student loan and credit card debt racked up while they were a student can be tough, to say the least.

Credit card debt is so common with students in college because of their inexperience with cards that there is a term simply called "college student credit card debt". That is the main reason there is a lower credit limit on their cards. To avoid college student credit card debt, the student has to do essentially the same thing as anyone else trying to avoid debt.

First, you must know that a credit card is not free money. You will have to pay back anything that you charge. If you don't pay it back when the bill comes in, you must pay it back later with a high interest rate attached, making it tougher to pay back. The credit card should not be viewed any differently than cash. In addition to this, spending habits in general should be conservative even with a zero percentage rate card. Don't buy things just because they are on sale, etc. Only buy necessities.

To help avoid overspending, a monthly budget is a good idea. The student should create and stick to a budget. This will ensure that they will stay out of debt. Next, only one credit card is really needed, so a student shouldn't get a second one. If the student gets multiple cards, they will have more money available to spend because the credit limit will be higher total. With a higher limit, the student is much more likely to spend more, not be able to pay it back, and get into debt. One credit card is plenty for a student.

A credit card for a college student should train them for how a credit card should be treated. It should help them to learn about how credit cards work. They should be instructed first, though. They need to learn about APR, annual fees, interest, and the pitfalls of not paying the bills in full and on time. Learning from a negative experience with debt is certainly not ideal.
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