Student Credit Cards 101 – Building Your Credit

If you are student who has just learned how to drive a car or is headed off to college, most of you may not have been given access to your parents’ credit cards. But college student credit cards may provide a solution for young people in need of credit anyway because building good credit with student credit cards may be more beneficial in the long run than borrowing your parents credit card. Believe it or not, getting a new student credit card in your name is relatively easy – even if you have minimal income, no co-signer and no credit history. To get your own student credit card, just follow these simple guidelines.

Get A Job

If you don’t already, consider part-time work around campus on in your neighborhood. It can be for only a few hours a week on campus. If you’re going to have your own student credit card, you’ll need to make payments on a monthly basis. Having your own checking and savings account at a local bank or credit union is also a good idea. Most banks have special student accounts that require a very little deposit to open. Establishing a history at the bank and accumulating some savings, will give you more opportunities for credit in the future.

Surf the Net

As a college student, you probably have been bombarded with offers for student credit cards. Maybe you’ve opened your mail to find a fake credit card inside with your name on it. Or, you’ve seen those annoying credit card applications that always fall out of your new textbooks. You may have also seen credit card representatives with booths set up on your campus giving away free t-shirts and hats to those who complete an application. Don’t take the first offer you get, shop around for the best value. The Internet is one of the best places to comparison shop for credit cards.

Read the Fine Print

Beware! Not all student credit cards are alike. Some may have really cool designs that you can pick, such as college logos, sports teams or graphics that act as an extension of your personality. But as the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Although all college student credit cards provide you with cash in the form of plastic, they can vary greatly by a number of factors: credit line offered, annual percentage rates (APR), annual fees, late fees, cash advance fees, over-limit fees and special perks. APRs can vary from 0% to 29%; annual fees $0 – $50; late and over-limit fees can be as much as $30/month, each. Before you sign on the dotted line, carefully read the terms and conditions of the student credit card, especially the fine print. Pick the card that offers you the lowest APR and fees.

Use It (Wisely) Or Lose It

Many Americans, including college kids, are in debt over the heads. Before getting your student credit card, be sure to understand everything about credit. Credit cards make it easy, and tempting, to go on a spending spree. But spend more on your college student credit cards than you make you’ll quickly find yourself drowning in debt. High interest rates, late fees and over-the-limit fees can cause your monthly balance to get way out of control. If you can’t pay your bills, your credit history will be destroyed. Bad credit can keep you from getting student loans, buying a car, purchasing a home… even getting your dream job.

Once you have a job, a bank account, savings and an understanding of what credit is all about, you are ready for your first student credit card! If you’ve done your homework, then you can be confident that you will select the college student credit cards that will help you to establish your credit. Spend wisely and reap the benefits of a good credit history.

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