6 tips for college students considering 1st credit card
Consumer advocates, college officials offer advice
Here are six tips offered by consumer advocates and college administrators for students who are solicited by companies offering student credit cards:
1. Walk on by. Be leery of on-campus or near-campus solicitations by credit card issuers and their representatives. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and in return for that "free" slice of pizza or sandwich, you might find yourself applying for a credit card you do not need and is not right for you.
2. Opt out. Some colleges give your name, address and e-mail address to credit card issuers as part of marketing deals. If you are overwhelmed by credit card marketing offers, contact the federally mandated credit bureau solicitation "opt-out" list at (888) 5-OPT-OUT, or (888) 567-8688. Placing your name on this list will reduce the number of prescreened credit card offers you receive, but it will not eliminate all offers.
3. Lobby your school. Ask your school not to share student names and other personal information with credit card companies. Ask your student government to support this position.
4. Pay up, part one. Pay off your balances in full and on time every month. That way, you'll avoid interest charges and all sorts of other potential issues and problems. Paying just the monthly minimum payment amount could keep you in debt for years.
5. Pay up, part two. If you can't pay the full balance, make the largest possible payment every month. Make your payments as early as possible (at least seven to 10 days before it's due) to avoid late charges.
6. Other pesky issues. Watch for changing due dates -- credit card companies sometimes change the date with little notice, nudging some people into late charges. Call your card company and ask for a lower interest rate -- many companies would rather lower your rate than lose your business.
See related: Credit card issuers wear out welcome on campus
Published: December 8, 2008