College Credit Cards Help Smooth Out Credit Wrinkles

By: Robert Alan

College student credit cards have replaced student loans as a freshman's first student credit experience. At the sophomore level, out of a sample of 100 students, over 90% were found to be holders of at least one college credit card. The question is why do many students find themselves in a vicious cycle of debt with their college credit cards? Why are so many students astonished with the huge bills they receive each month? Most importantly, must it necessarily always be this way for a college credit card user or is there a simpler way?

There are plenty of statistical indicators to suggest that students run up credit bills regularly yet they do not pay their monthly dues on time. Approximately 21% of college credit card users have balances between $3,000 and $7,000. The number of credit cards in an average student's possession keeps increasing, indicating that they might be acquiring new cards to pay off balances on old ones. However, this can lead to credit balances increasing even faster, adding more debt in this never-ending downward spiral.

Five Steps to Avoid the College Credit Card Debt Trap

The core reason of this pathetic plight is the absence of a disciplined and planned system of using credit. If you, as a student, wish to optimize the use of your college student credit cards, use the following guidelines to plan credit spending and you will not go wrong:

- Pay up on time. Late fees are the most unnecessary source of debt accumulation. Ensure that you always meet the minimum payment on your bill. Ideally, you should try to pay more than the minimum amount to reduce overall charges.
- Use the 20/10 rule. Be careful that you never, ever borrow more than 20% of your annual net income and never spend more than 10% of your monthly income on your monthly payments. In other words, balance your credit to avoid irregularities in monthly payments.
- Plan your credit expenses. With college credit cards at your disposal, it is easy to give in to the temptation of impulse purchases. This leads to escalating card balances and higher and higher payments over a long period. It is ALWAYS better to plan purchases on your college credit card for so you can ensure you only build up credit balances that you know you can easily pay off.
- Avoid taking cash advances. The finance charges for these are generally higher than if you were to make credit purchases.
- Avoid approaching your credit limit. There may be extenuating circumstances that will require you to make unplanned expenses. So overall, if you stay clear of the credit limit by avoiding unnecessary charges, you can have the mental satisfaction of knowing that you can comfortably use the credit when it is really needed.

The Boon or Bane of College Credit Cards

If these guidelines are kept in mind, you will find you can live comfortably with college student credit cards. These tips are especially useful if you see yourself opting for that extra job in order to pay your credit card bills. Your savings are precious so don't bring yourself to a point where you need them to bail yourself out of your credit-happy ways. A balanced budget is the best way to handle all your expenses. College credit cards are most certainly a boon, and yet they can become a bane if you are not careful.

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