Ten Tips for First Time Student Credit Cardholders

Thinking about getting a credit card for college? Check out these ten tips:

1. Don’t sign up to get the freebie. Offers like free shirt, free cap, or free lunch may entice some young people to sign up. Before you know it, you could be stuck with a student credit card that does not match your needs.

2. Opt Out. Credit card companies may solicit names and contact information from campuses. If your mail box or inbox is flooded with marketing offers from various credit card issuers, you can minimize the number of offers you receive by calling (888) 5-OPT-OUT, or (888) 567-8688.

3. Shop around. You want to compare the rates, fees and the terms that each card offers. Use credit card comparison sites for easier evaluation. Choose a student credit card that will report your payments to the three major credit bureaus. See to it that it complements your lifestyle.

4. Watch out for misleading teaser rates. The interest rate may start out low or you may be offered 0% APR for the first few months, but what happens after that? How much will the regular interest rate cost you? Are there hidden charges? What’s the catch?

5. Study the fine print. Many people are lured to sign up for the “wrong” credit card because they do not take time to examine the Terms & Conditions. The small font and the length of the Agreement may be discouraging but it’s the only way you can know for sure if you made the right choice.

6. Keep it low. Going over your credit limit is bad. But if you want to stay out of bad debt and maintain good credit history, you need to keep your credit usage minimal. Do not charge more than 30%  to your credit.

7. Avoid the extra fees.You can avoid additional costs such as over-the-limit fees, late penalty fees and interest rates by being a responsible payer. Submit your payments on time. Make it a goal to pay off your charges in full each month or each billing period.

8. Pay more than the minimum. There may be times when you can’t pay off your full balance. In such instances, be sure to submit your payment on time. Instead of paying only the minimum due required, try to pay more so you can complete the rest of your payments more easily next time.

9. Think thrice. Before using your student credit card for any purchase, ask yourself, “Do I really need to buy this item now?”, “Can I afford to pay it back on my due date?” If you have any hesitations, it’s best to put off the purchase.

10. Look out for changes. Credit card issuers can change their rules and increase their fees  as long as they provide notice 45 days in advance. You need to be alert about the billing statements or notices sent to your mail. Review the fine print regularly. If you noticed some changes, call your issuer right away. Most companies will lower their rate or adjust their terms if you make the request, especially if you’re one of their best customers.

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