College students have their fair share of worries: mountains of school work, social obligations, the pressure of living away from home for the first time, maybe even a part-time job. They really don’t need to tack any more worries on to their ‘to do lists’. But many do so in the form of credit card abuse and subsequent credit card debt.
While college students credit cards can be beneficial in many ways, they are all too often misused, and sometimes even abused, which can quickly turn the tables and make these benefits all but non-existent. They can actually make a college student’s life much harder, even after they graduate from college.
In fact, many people compare college students credit cards to the infamous Freshman Fifteen. You know, those fifteen extra pounds that many students fall prey to during their first year at their new school. When it comes to credit cards, college students with them rack up the charges on their cards more often than not – often in amounts that far exceed $15 dollars!
But there is more to the whole situation than just that. College students credit cards can be very useful when used the right way. However, as discussed above, the potential for misuse is right there and mistakes are all too often made. The rest of the post below will attempt to sort through how a college student credit card can harm their future, why this can happen, and how to best avoid this unfortunate fate.
Credit Cards & College Students
College students are at a very vulnerable point in their lives, especially as far as credit and other finances go. In fact, it is the first time in many of their lives where their credit score actually matters. It is the first time that they can build their credit history.
In addition, college students are often shoved off with numerous other financial responsibilities. These include paying for rent and other living expenses, dealing with college student loans, and also figuring out credit cards. Because of the financial stress of such a situation, many college students end up quickly falling into credit card debt. This debt is made especially bad by the fact that many college students are also up to their ears in student loan debt. It is not a very pleasant combo.
Student Loans for College: Yes or No?
Putting aside thoughts of college student credit cards for a second, it is important to take a look at student loans for college. Many students consider taking out these sorts of loans going into college but are unsure of whether it is a good idea or not.
Student loans for college are like anything else. Taking one out depends on your personal situation, goals, and preferences. It is a decision that you need to make on your own. Yes, they can be worth it, but they can also not be worth it. It all depends.
For instance, college student loans are decidedly not worth it if you have had trouble in the past with money, debts, or making regular payments on time. A loan is a big commitment – especially considering the relatively large amount of interest that many student loans come with – and it will take a responsible and mature student to pay them back on time. Furthermore, taking out a student loan and then abusing a credit card and racking up credit card debt makes the situation worse altogether.
If you are sure that you can be responsible with both your student loan and student credit card, then taking out a loan to cover some of your college expenses and tuition can be a very beneficial idea. This is especially true if you have covered all of your other bases and exhausted all of your other financial options. There are many other ways to pay for college including grants, scholarships, and student financial aid and you should make sure that you have tested these waters before taking out a loan.
Avoiding College Student Credit Card Debt
There are many ways to avoid college student credit card debt. The simplest, easiest, and most straightforward way is, of course, to avoid credit cards altogether. Without a credit card, it is impossible to rack up credit card debt.
But fending for oneself without a credit card just isn’t doable for many college students. Many students need the financial help that a credit card can provide or they want to/need to improve their credit score and rating.
One of the absolute best ways to avoid college student credit card debt without vetoing credit cards altogether is by only using one single credit card. Using only a single credit card has numerous advantages including keeping your finances better organized, tracking your spending, and keeping credit card debt to a minimum. Furthermore, it cancels out any poor credit or hefty loans that could harm you in the future and require the use of debt management options like credit card debt consolidation.
At the end of the day, avoiding credit card debt is all about being responsible and not spending more money than you know you can pay back. Credit cards can be great tools for college students looking to learn more about money management, build their credit, and have a little financial leeway but they absolutely cannot be abused – if they are, your credit card debt will likely hurt you long into the future.