Tips for College Students using Credit Cards

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - School is in session and if you have a child in college, they may already have a credit card or may be thinking about getting one. Gwen Beadles, with ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions is a parent and speaks from experience. She says when it comes to college students and credit cards, the power of plastic is enticing.

"The average college student today has four credit cards with a total combine balance of three-thousand dollars," she said.

Counselors at ClearPoint say having a credit card is not a bad thing, it's how you use it. Having a card with a low limit, and paying your monthly bill on time can boost your credit score.

Unfortunately, experts say most college students get an "F" when it comes to how the handle credit cards.

"Probably they are charging too much on their credit card. I think they think the more credit cards you have, the more you can spend but they don't pay it off. They have the high ceilings and they don't know the implications it has on them once they do get out of college," Beadles told us.

Good payment history equals a better credit score -- which means lower interest rates on a house or that new car when you are done with school.

Parents this may be a sigh of relief, it's now tougher for students under 21 to get a credit card. They now have to prove they can afford the payments. Yes, your child is growing up and teaching them financial responsibility is part of your homework.

"Speaking from experience, do not just give them a debit card or credit card and think they have it all under control and that they know the best way to use it and the best place not to use it," Beadles said.

Sites like ClearPoint are packed with tips and information to get you started to a healthy credit history and if you're already headed down the wrong path, can help you fix it.

"Building your credit is like completing your education it takes time, it takes discipline, it takes persistent and determination. Now is the time to do it in college," she said.

Counselors say it's best to only have one card and not charge more than you can payoff. If you see yourself getting in trouble, talk to your parents or a financial counselor.

Financial experts say parents need to be cautions of co-signing a credit card for their children. Keep in mind, if you they don't pay the bill, you are responsible.

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