Picking the Right Student Credit Card for You

By: Ray Torres

When it comes to college life, we all agree that studying is the most important part of it. But there is also another aspect to consider, the financial one. Expense control during college years is something that we should always keep a close eye on and part of this is to pick the right credit card for your needs.

Even before you start to earn any college credits, you get bombarded with offers of financial credit. When you're away from home, having credit is very important for basic expenses as well as traveling from home to campus, depending on how far away you move.

Of course, credit also helps you trick out your dorm room from that awful, institutionalized look to something that resembles your personal style. Getting the credit you want starts with completing a student credit card application.

You will find banks and credit card companies vying for your business all over campus. Some offer food (Can you believe that?), some give away magazine subscriptions, and others toss trendy tee shirts at you if you sign on the dotted line.

But none of those so-called gifts are the reason you should choose a credit card. Every college student likes freebies, but this decision has a far-reaching, long-term impact on your life. This is too serious to base your decision on a cheap freebie.

Don't rush to complete the first student credit card application that's thrust into your hands. Get at least three applications and compare the deals offered to you; or better yet, shop online, where there is no pressure from anyone to apply, and compare benefits.

These financial companies are all willing to give you credit, perhaps the same initial amount of credit. So what features matter most? First, you need to know what the credit card will cost you (or mom and dad if they're footing the bill).

One cost is the annual fee and the other is the interest rate on your balance. Your best choice is a student credit card with no annual fee. Why pay this when you don't have to? Taking time to shop around for a good deal will turn up a no fee card.

Typical interest rates range from 12% to 18% on your balance. The term APR refers to annual percentage rates. There are more features that can attract you to a specific credit card company.

You may be able to get an affinity card, which is a student credit card with your college or university logo. Other groups also have affinity cards - including political, environmental or social causes.

Some credit cards offer points that can even be used for travel or gift rewards. You earn these points by paying your minimum balance on the due date and keeping within your credit limit.

If you frequently shop at stores, restaurants or travel sites that offer reward points, then you can get more for your money with this type of credit card. Other cards offer cash back - based on eligible items purchased from grocery stores, drugstores, convenience stores or discount stores.

It's okay to eat the snacks and listen to the pitch from the on-campus credit card presentation. Just remember that some of these companies hire students who only know a few sales lines and don't really have all the answers that you need to make an informed decision.

As you can see, when it comes to select the right credit card for your college years, there are many options to choose from. Take the time to shop around, listen to the offers, go online and compare and select the one that better suits your needs as it will be time well spend.

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