What You Need to Know Before Your Swipe

Are you ready for your first time? Are you ready for your first credit card? Is it time for you to start paying for stuff on credit?

I was chatting to a friend about booking trips online. We eventually got into payment methods. We were planning to go on a group trip (this is a while ago). The issue arose that none of my friends had the credit limit to book a group trip on their card. I told everyone that I didn’t mind doing this as long as everyone gave me the money in advance.

We get into talking about credit cards. One of my friends mentioned that he has a school specific credit card because he wanted the free t-shirt. Yes, the usual first time credit card story. You want the free gift so you sign up for the credit card.

As funny as it seems when you’re looking back, while signing up you see nothing wrong with what you’re doing. I’m not here to judge anyone that messed up their first time around with a credit card. I’m here to give general tips to those of you reading this that are looking to apply for your first student credit card.

What do you need to know about applying for your first student credit card?

You need to know what COULD happen with your first credit card.

None of us plan on failing. Nobody reading this wants to get into credit card debt. We all want to be successful and live amazing lives. Then life just sort of happens. We don’t get the best of grades. We don’t save as much money as we would like to. We aren’t satisfied with where we are in life. We don’t even realize how we got into credit card debt.

When I wrote about dealing with your first credit card a few years ago, long time reader Anna wrote in with a scary comment:

I had about 14 credit cards by the end of my college career. I had a few store cards and your basic student credit cards. You mean I can save 15% today? I can cancel the card when it arrives in the mail? Sure. You say you will cut up the card or cancel it when it comes. But there it sits all shiny and new and you place it in your wallet. You definitely will NOT use it on your next trip to the store. But there you are in the store and there are ‘perks’ for cardholders. You have to use your card to get those perks. So you use the card and then you’re stuck making $7 an hour and can barely fill your gas tank and you let a $45 charge for a pair of jeans sit on your store card. You only pay the minimum payment of $10 that month and it continues to accrue interest. 

Listen folks, don’t do it! Pay cash. You’re already going to likely have student loan debt. You don’t want to graduate and immediately have to go into consumer credit counseling, like I did. I learned my lesson.

I don’t want to scare you away from financial skills like using a credit card or learning how the stock market works. I just want you understand what COULD possibly happen.

There are new credit card regulations.

The Credit Card Act of 2009 has really changed the whole process of applying for a student credit card. If you want a credit card now you’re going to need to prove that you have an income or you’re going to have to find a co-signor. Just please keep this in mind as you search for your first card.

Your first student credit card can help you build credit.

When you get your first credit card you can start to build your credit and build the path towards the rest of your 20s. You can set yourself up to get a much better interest rate on a home mortgage or car loan when you have high credit. I don’t want to get off-topic, but if you want to learn more you can ready about what a good credit score number is.

You should wait to apply for your first student credit card.

Why should you wait? There’s simply no rush for you to get access to credit. If you can wait until the last minute to start that assignment, why rush to sign up for a credit card?

Are you ready to apply for your first credit card? What else would you like to know about student credit cards?

1 thought on “What You Need to Know Before Your Swipe”

  1. I wish I had waited a bit longer to get mine. A lot of dumb purchases like the $150 aluminum computer case. Or the bright idea when my summer job ended (as expected) halfway through summer break and I decided to live of my credit card for the remaining 2 months instead of trying to find another job.

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