Getting a Student Credit Card: Do’s and Dont’s


Jenna Wiley, Editor-in-Chief

As a college student you’ve probably been getting letters in the mail about applying for credit cards already. Credit cards can be super convenient and life-saving in emergency situations but can also cause a lot of damage to your credit score if dealt with poorly.

Read on for a list of do’s and don’t when it comes to your first ever student credit card:

Do understand your particular cards features

Take the time to ask questions and learn all the ends and outs of your new card. Different credit cards do different things and you should understand them all. Always ask your credit card provider about interest rates or annual fees so you can pick the best one for your wallet.

Don’t have more than one card

Getting more than one credit card seems tempting at first, you’ll basically have unlimited money right? Wrong. If you have more than one, imagine that bill at the end of the month. Owning more than one credit cards can be too much for a college student to juggle at once and can negatively affect your credit score in the long run.

Do make smart purchases

It’s okay to indulge and treat yourself every once in a while, who doesn’t? But you need to be careful on how often you splurge on an expensive bottle of wine or a trip to the spa with your girlfriends. The best way to do this is to decide if the purchase is a need or a want. Do you want that downtown bar crawl or do you need to buy groceries next week?

Don’t ever take a cash advance

Yes, I’m telling you to say no to “free money.” Unfortunately, getting a cash advance on your credit card isn’t as “free” as it seems. Even though a cash advance allows you to get some fast cash (which can be really helpful in college), it often ends up terribly expensive for the cardholder. Essentially, you’d wind up playing two credit card bills. Doesn’t sound too great anymore.

Do pay your balance every month

I know, that much is obvious right? Paying your card off monthly ensures that your debts get properly handled. It also ensures that you only pay for things you actually purchased and not the extra fees and charges companies apply when you make late payments or don’t pay in full. Make paying your bill a priority just like paying rent is.

Don’t share your credit card

Let’s be honest, no one likes to be the friend that can’t help another friend out when they are short on cash. College students often get so caught up in doing things for others financially, like treating a friend to a meal, that they spread their wallets too thin.

Do stay under your credit limit

Most student credit cards will have a “max” amount you can spend and it’s there for your own good. Your personalized credit limit keeps you from overspending and paying more in interest. Other than being expensive and difficult to get rid of, coverage fees can place you in a seemingly endless cycle of payments.

Don’t get distracted

Everyone loves getting free stuff. However getting a free coffee mug, cool phone case or cash bonus for signing up for a credit card does not mean you’re getting a good deal or the best one suited to you and your lifestyle. You should always compare various credit card companies when searching for a credit card. See which ones offer programs or specials that you could take advantage of and which ones may not be your best choice.

Do know your credit score

Your credit score affects your ability to buy a car, own a home or even qualify to receive a loan for the bank in the future. Credit card are the go-to way to start building your credit while in college but it’s important to remember what you do with it can affect the rest of your life.