Credit cards and college students often go hand in hand. Emergency preparedness is a key factor in acquiring a credit card, especially in the case of a college freshman leaving home for the first time.
There is obviously a big learning curve starting out as a newbie to the college campus life. Getting orientated and situated can be a frustrating experience in the first few weeks. This is especially true when everyone else is also in a mad rush to get books and supplies they find the need once classes have begun. For students who can no longer rely on Mom and Dad to be right there with them, it is a wise choice to have a credit card in the event of such emergencies.
Credit cards, like college, are a huge responsibility. Both are also responsibilities that should not be taken lightly. Going off to college is an exciting time of perhaps new-found independence. Without a strict set of guidelines, credit cards can often be misused for non-related emergencies. Any person who is authorized to use a credit card should have full understanding that there are repercussions involved in making purchases. Students, who are now free to make most of their own decisions, need to fully understand that each of those decisions could potentially affect the rest of their lives. Credit cards are a perfect example of this.
Racking up thousands of dollars in credit card debt is not the way you want to start off your financial future. Purchases should be done only in emergency situations in order to keep your payments low and prevent additional fees and interest being tacked on. Impulse spending is the last thing you want to do with a credit card. Sure it seems to be free now, but there is no doubt you will be paying for it for a long time to come.
In addition to paying your bills in a timely manner, controlling your spending, and establishing a budget, it is also imperative that, as holder of the credit card, there is a responsibility to protect your information and keep your cards safe from other people. When first starting a new semester, odds are good that a whole new group of people will be hanging around. Keep credit cards in your possession at all times and never, ever give out credit card numbers to anyone.
It is also good practice even before leaving home that you catalogue the credit company’s name, address, contact phone number, and your account number and leave the list safe with your parents – in case your cards are stolen or misused illegally. You should also do this with all of your banking information and other important documents that could be potentially hazardous if it found its way into the wrong hands.
Credit cards are a big responsibility for anyone. College students already have a lot of new things to experience and learn. Being prepared and utilizing credit cards wisely will help jumpstart the building of a strong financial foundation as well as experience in making smart choices for the future.
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Stephanie says: I firmly believe in the ability of a college student to handle a credit card wisely, but we often see that just doesn’t happen. My advice to every college student who applies is this: remember exactly what that little piece of plastic is when you use it: a loan.