Avoiding Credit Card Debt

We are pleased to offer the following tips to college students regarding credit card usage. While this list is not exhaustive, following these tips will help you manage credit wisely.

* Be cognizant of the fact that credit card issuers are very anxious to get your business. So anxious, in fact, that issuers spend millions and millions of dollars each year aggressively marketing their cards on college campuses across the country. This marketing takes many forms...giving away T-shirts, full page ads in college papers, pre-approved credit card applications, etc., etc. Credit card issuers are seeking to develop long term relationships with college students and, according to critics, are willing to do almost anything to accomplish this goal.

* Credit cards geared toward students often come with high interest rates and other unfavorable terms. This is largely because students usually have limited credit histories and also due to the fact that students have a higher default rate than other age groups. In spite of these facts, however, students should not settle for the "first offer that comes their way". Remember, there is keen competition among student card issuers and use this to your advantage. Compare offers by reading terms and conditions carefully and choose the best offer!

* Don't use your credit card as a source of income. While many college students have full intentions of "paying off" their cards in a timely manner after they enter the workforce, such good intentions are often never realized. Curtis Arnold, CardRatings.com's founder and current public relations director, knows firsthand the potentially devastating effect of relying on credit cards as a source of income while attending college. Curtis amassed in excess of $40,000 in credit card debt during his undergraduate and graduate studies! As you might expect, this debt created an extreme amount of anxiety and stress for Curtis after school (and, incidentally, was the primary reason Curtis founded this site). If you do find yourself "buried in credit card debt", consider utilizing a non-profit debt counseling service.

* Utilize the resources on the Internet to help educate yourself about credit cards and credit in general. Credit is a complex subject and, in order to master the subject, you have to be willing to educate yourself. There are many superb web sites that are geared toward educating students about credit. Consider taking a personal finance class as well!

* Finally, remember that credit cards are not evil! In fact, credit cards are an excellent way for students to establish credit. Establishing credit is exciting and is a sign of true independence. Just remember that credit cards require financial discipline and prudence. We hope these tips help will help you become a credit savvy consumer!