Getting a credit card is easy. Sometimes it can be too easy, and college students are often targeted by credit card vendors. Keep the following tips in mind for responsible credit card use.

 

Understand that anytime you use a credit card, you are borrowing money. If you do not pay off your balance each month, interest will be added to the total amount you owe.  

 

Think before getting your first credit card. Do you really need a credit card or would another option work just as well?

  • Debit card – deducts charges directly from your checking account so you only spend money you have.

  • Secured credit card – works similar to a credit card, except that a savings account is established specifically for the card to make payments if you do not.

  • Waiting – just put off the decision for six months or a year and see how well you do without a credit card.

Choose wisely. When selecting a credit card, you should shop around for the best deal. Compare different cards based on your own situation. Look at the following:

  • Low fixed annual percentage rate

  • Interest calculation method

  • Low or no annual fees

  • All other charges (late payment fees, transaction fees, over-the-limit fees, etc.)

  • Grace period

  • Credit limit

  • Services and features (cash rebates, frequent flier miles, extended warranties, etc.)

Keep just one card. It will be easier to keep tabs on your spending.  

 

Think about ways you can track your expenses. Check your accounts online frequently and save receipts.

 

Photo copy the front and back of your card or keep record of the following in case your card is lost or stolen:

  • Account number

  • Issuer’s name

  • Phone number

The bottom line: do not spend more than you can afford to pay on a monthly basis. Wise use of your credit cards will help you establish a solid credit rating and avoid financial problems. Find a credit card that best fits your financial needs at www.bankrate.com/credit-cards.aspx.