Use Responsibly: Credit Card Tips for College Students

Many college students start receiving credit card applications as early as freshman year – and as time goes on and graduation approaches, you might even start to ask yourself, “Should I get one?”

For the college student looking to establish a financial future while still in college, getting a credit card can be one of the best decisions you make to start building your credit history early – that is, if you use your card responsibly. Here are a few things to keep in mind if and when the plastic arrives in the mail:

  • Use Your Card: You have your card – so use it! Don’t let it collect dust, but when you bring it out of your wallet for the first time, remember: use it responsibly. Forego your debit card at dinner out, for example, and use your card. The more you use it, the more you’ll contribute to your credit history.
  • Stay Aware of Account Balances: When using your card, you must be cognizant of your bank account balances. The last thing you need or want is to make a charge with your card that the funds in your bank account won’t be able to front when it’s time to pay your bill for the month.
  • Know How Much You Owe: Alongside knowing your account balances, knowing how much you owe on your card is important to stay on top of it. If you lose track of your credit card balance, you could run the risk of charging more than you can handle, which can spiral out of control quickly.
  • Keep Track of When Payments Are Due: Make a mental note of when your credit card payments are due each month and, this is key, try to pay your balance off in full every time you make a payment. This goes hand-in-hand with knowing how much you currently owe on your card.
  • Go Digital: In today’s digital world, it’s never been easier to monitor, track and manage a credit card. Take advantage of online account services to keep track of your account, pay your monthly bills and receive real-time updates of your expenditures.

For many young adults, a first credit card can feel empowering – but with newfound power, comes newfound responsibility. Use your card wisely and start positively contributing to your credit history that will one day affect applications for car, home, and other loans in the future.

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