If you’re 18 or older, odds are you’ve received at least one student credit card offer in the mail. Often times, the bright colors on the packaging and awesome-sounding introductory APR can blind us to the fact that maybe it isn’t exactly what we’re looking for in a credit card or that we don’t need credit at this very moment.
The easy way to know if you are ready for a credit card is whether or not you’re responsible with other accounts such as a debit card linked to a checking account. Have you ever gotten overdraft fees from a spending spree? If so, you probably couldn’t handle a credit card — just being honest.
However, if you must have a card or need one for purchases like college textbooks or supplies, here are some good rules of thumb for sorting through credit offers:
1. Always check the back of the application.
The back of each pre-approved offer or application always lists an APR or APR range that you can fall into with that card. if the purchase APR is over 13-15%, forget about it. With excellent credit, you will eventually be able to work your way down to APRs below 10%.
2. Say no to annual fees.
If you’re already going to be paying interest on money you’re spending, it’s just downright greedy for credit card companies to charge an annual fee for the card’s use. Slip right past cards with this attached to them and save yourself a hunk of cash.
3. Start with a secured card if you need to build credit.
A secured card is a little different from normal, unsecured cards in that you need to have a sort of “security deposit” to use them. They generally have lower credit limits (very good for forcing yourself to control your spending) and allow you to safely build you credit without going overboard and charging yourself into spiraling debt.
Check out some secured card options here »
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