6 Tips for Students to Use Credit Cards Wisely

Whether the post-school adults like it or not, student credit cards have become a staple for the majority of college and university students. Not only are they used to take advantage of online services through a college such as tuition payment and purchasing cheaper text books, but they are also a good way to build up a credit report before graduates start looking for a new vehicle, home, or decent loan. However, it’s also true that many students get into trouble with credit cards, racking up more debt than they can manage and damaging their credit history before it’s really had a chance to begin. If you want to avoid this pit, then follow these six tips to use credit cards wisely.

Student Holding A Credit Card

  1. Try to Get a Card that Forces You to Pay the Balance Every Month: Whether through high interest rates or a card which simply doesn’t allow you to carry a balance, making certain that you have to pay of your balance every month will ensure that you don’t fall into a debt hole. If you don’t have a card which does this, pay your balance off every month anyway; that way you make the most of any rewards and you never fall into a debt trap.
  1. Get a Student Credit Card: Student credit cards are cards which give you specific perks for being a student; for example, higher cash back or rewards for items like books, gas, and food. Unfortunately, most of these cards don’t follow point #1, so make sure you carefully budget and pay your balance off.
  1. Sign up for Online Banking and Credit Card Services: An online checking account allows you to pay off your bill in advance of the deadline so you never have to worry about running late. Online banking and credit card services also lets you carefully track your spending, stay on budget and get emails if you go over your budget or if there are any suspicious transactions on your card. Keep up with these notifications because they can really help you stay on track with no effort.
  1. Precautions when Shopping Online: Make sure that you only use sites which are secure and have a good reputation and then make sure to keep careful track of your card to make sure no weird transactions show up on it. Read reviews of sites, make sure they have a good privacy policy and a sterling reputation with shoppers before you shop. Shopping online is a great way to get good deals, but you don’t want your information to get stolen.
  1. Keep It to Yourself: Don’t lend your card to anyone, not even friends, don’t give out your CVV/CVC number or credit card number over the phone (unless you initiated the call), and make sure you notify your lender of your new address when you move so that your mail doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
  1. Watch Your Statements: If you find an error on your credit card statement, report it right away to your credit card issuer. Each credit card issuer will have specific steps you can take to report a problem; follow them precisely and as soon as you notice the problem to protect your card and your budget.

Of all of these tips, the final and perhaps most important one, is to remember that credit card companies are not faceless entities which won’t help you to resolve matters. Make sure that you understand how your credit card works and take care of your budget and your money. That way your credit card will be an asset to you, not a liability. After all, it’s up to you to take care of your money!


Darryl Van Dyke has over 20 years experience in the finance industry. He is currently the senior editor & contributor at CardSight.com.