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Do I need a credit card in college?

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College is a time of new beginnings — it’s a time of adventure for young scholars. And of course with new territory comes tons of questions. But you can’t raise your hand in a classroom and ask questions about your finances, you have to learn that by trial and error. A lot of students wonder whether or not they need a credit card in college, and while it is dependent on the student’s finances, age and responsibility; it is a good idea to have a credit card in college.

But first, with the Credit CARD Act of 2009, student consumers can’t get a credit card if they are under the age of 21, unless the have a co-signer or can prove that they have a stable income. This legislation protects young consumers from the heavy-handed marketing tactics that credit cards use on college campuses.

Many credit card issuers used to set up tables on college campuses, and offer them free giveaways like mascot branded blankets, t-shirts, cups and other memorabilia in exchange for their information. Most students used to think that the credit card issuers just wanted their information, but they were in fact signing the students up for credit cards.

The CARD Act of 2009 makes this illegal, and therefore, making college a good place to get a credit card again. Student consumers should look to their parents as co-signers, so they can learn how to deal with credit cards, pay off the balance, and get familiar with interest rates. The good thing about having a co-signer is that if the student ever makes a purchase that they cannot afford, the financial burden will not fall on them, their parents can help them pay off the bill.

Getting a credit card with a small spending limit is college, because it helps to build up your credit score, which is essential in adult life with mortgages and auto loans. A student with a credit card is unknowingly ahead of the credit bell curve, and can begin practicing good borrowing habits that will guide them into the future.

Make sure to convey that a student credit card is for emergencies and building good credit habits. Don’t let students get away with making any purchase and not paying it off, or else it’s just a wasted lesson, and it will haunt them in their financial future.

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