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College students and credit cards: A love-hate relationship

Many people who have credit card debt that is becoming unmanageable might sit down one day and try to narrow down when they fell into the credit card trap. For some, that answer is in college. Now that Pennsylvania colleges are coming back into session, it is important for college students to realize that while credit cards do have some good uses, they also have some negative uses.

One important point for anyone who is going into college to know is that anyone who is under 21 years old has to prove they have a sufficient income to support the credit card or they have to have to cosigner. College students should realize that this is actually a protection afforded to them by the Credit CARD Act of 2009.

On the plus side of getting a credit card when entering college is that if they payments are kept up with throughout the college years, the cardholder's credit will be strengthened when he or she gets out of school. That could help them if they need a good credit score for a job or a place to live.

Some college students might be able to use other methods, such as being added to a parent's credit card account as an authorized user as a way to build credit. Responsibility with cash might be one way that parents can test a student's response to money before adding the student to the account.

In some cases, temptation to use the credit card to live a more lavish lifestyle might be more than they can handle. When that happens, it is all too easy to fall into a credit card trap that involves racking up more charges than you can handle. If it comes to that point, it is important for those with the overwhelming credit card debt to know they have options to regain control of their finances.

Source: CBS News, "Do students need a credit card in college?" Scott Gamm, Sep. 07, 2014

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