Paying for College / Debt Relief, Life & Career

How to Avoid the Credit Card Trap in College

For college freshmen, campus life comes with so many new opportunities.

There are chances to learn new things and meet new people. But also temptations to splurge on nights out, travel to new places, and buy new things.

For many students who are unequipped to face this transition, the move from high school to college can be a credit card trap.

If you are preparing for campus life, here are a few ways to avoid digging into regrettable debt:

  • Choose Debit: A debit card allows you to spend only the money you have, reducing the risk of accumulating debt. It’s as handy as a credit card, but keeps your spending in check.
  • Resist Your Impulses: Impulse buying can lead to financial stress, especially for college students. Before making a purchase, give yourself a cooling-off period to think about the purchase and consider if it’s truly necessary.
  • “Emergency Only” Credit: Many students run into unexpected expenses, and credit cards can help overcome financial challenges. But leaving this debt as a last resort prevents accumulating debt and long-term payoffs.
  • Focus on Your FICO: How you manage credit cards can have a big impact on your short-term finances. But it also impacts your FICO credit score, which has long-term implications if you need to buy a car or a home. So take a long-term view on how you use credit.

College is a launch point for the life and career of so many students. Use these tips to avoid the credit card trap, and you can make it a healthy launch point for your financial future, too.

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