College Students – What to Know About Your First Credit Card
College can be an exciting experience for young students who are looking to earn a degree and gain a better perspective on the world through higher education. However, it can also be an expensive experience if you don’t watch out on your spending. Many college students have a credit card for various expenses, and for first-time credit card holders, it can be easy to ignore the charges as they rack up.
Instead of falling into bad habits, take the time to understand what you can do to maintain a healthy credit score and avoid financial dire straits. Here are a few tips on how to get started.
Use your family as a co-holder of your credit card.
It’s not uncommon for parents of college students to make their children authorized users of their credit card. Having a degree of parental control over credit card spending is good for both avoiding going into debt, and to have some guidance over spending. For students who are inexperienced in managing money, this is a great way to introduce financial tools and skill sets without the fear of doing it alone.
Limit your expenses to ‘needs’ as opposed to ‘wants’.
If you’re a college student with no job or a part-time job, as many are, it’s important to focus far less on what you want and purchase what you actually need. Whether it’s groceries, books, gas or various campus expenses, limiting your spending to just necessities will keep you out of unneeded debt.
Always check your bank statements.
There’s a difference between people who regularly check their credit card statements and those who don’t – and that difference could mean late payments (with potential penalties) and unnecessary debt. It’s important to watch your statements so you can see what you’re spending, as it can be very easy to swipe your card and let the charges rack up.
Understand that you’re building your credit score as you go.
The term ‘credit score’ may seem foreign to new credit card users and young college students in general. However, it’s never too early to start building credit, and making on-time payments will help you in earning a solid credit score as you begin your financial future.