Tips for college students: What you should know to use credit cards more responsibly
Ready to head to college with a shiny new credit card? When you use a credit card, you are borrowing money with a promise to repay it at a later date. Credit is not free!
Below are some tips from New York City Consumer Affairs to help you use a credit card more responsibly:
1. CREDIT HISTORY
Using a credit card responsibly helps you build a good credit history. A good credit score will help you take out loans more easily and even get better interest rates.
2. BUDGET AND SAVE
Know how much you earn each month, what bills you must pay, and save the rest. If you track and manage your spending, you may be able to pay for things in cash instead of using a credit card. But if you use a credit card, you’ll be prepared when you get your statement.
3. SHOP AROUND
There are many different cards with different offers, interest rates, and benefits. Look for low interest rates on purchases and no annual fees. Select the card that best meets the needs of students.
4. READ THE FINE PRINT
Read and understand all of the terms and conditions that apply to your card before you sign up.
5. PAY ON TIME
You will owe what you have spent within a few weeks of your purchases, so know your budget and always pay your card on time. Failure to pay on time will result in late payment fees and interest charges and will damage your credit.
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6. PAY OFF IN FULL
Each month, the credit card company will allow you to make a minimum payment that is less than the total you owe. It may seem easy to do this, but you will be charged interest, which adds to what you owe.
7. PUT IT AWAY
If you cannot pay off the balance in full, stop using the card and keep making payments until you have paid off the balance. Always pay more than the minimum payment if you can.
8. LIMIT YOUR CARDS
To avoid confusion and to prevent identity theft, limit yourself to as few credit cards as possible. For most people, one credit card is more than enough.
9. OPT OUT OF OFFERS
Did you know you can opt out of receiving credit card offers? Register your address at optoutprescreen.com or call toll-free 1-888-567-8688.