The Bottom Line - How to Avoid Student Credit Card Debt

by : Scott Stadler

Student credit cards can be a blessing or they can be a curse - it's all up to you! Student cards are fantastic for making college purchases more convenient, making travel much easier, and for covering those emergency situations that just pop up from time to time. But if they're not used responsibly, the debt racked up can really be quite a burden when the carefree years of college are finally over and the real world begins.

And post-college debt really can be painful indeed. Chances are that with lots of outstanding debt and not so much black ink on the income side of things, credit scores are also going to be less than excellent at this time. This makes getting an apartment, buying a car, getting auto insurance, and even getting a job a lot more difficult. Yes it's true - these days, most employers do take a look at your credit score as an indicator of what type of employee you'll likely be.

The good news is that avoiding student credit card debt is not hard to do at all! Here are a few pointers to help you get started off on the right foot...

Use a Credit Card Only for Emergencies.

I know this sounds tough, but it is entirely possible. College students have gotten by for years and years without using credit cards at all. There's no reason why the responsible student today shouldn't be able to get by with only using their credit cards for emergencies and other times where it's really the only option.

Pay it Off On Time.

This is essential. Pay it in full if possible to avoid any balance at all. However, even if you can't quite swing the full amount right now, it's imperative to at least pay the minimum before it's due. Late fees and other additional charges that come when a payment is late or missed are very punitive and compound incredibly fast.

Use Your Discipline.

Taking total control with your financial life is easier and much more rewarding than letting things spiral recklessly out of control. Being disciplined with a student credit card might mean asking yourself each and every time you plan to use the card, "would I spend this money or buy this item if I weren't putting it on the credit card?" If the answer is no, then that should tell you something.

Plan to Pay Down the Balance.

Even if something happens and you can only cover the minimum payment when it's due, don't just settle for letting the balance rack up to be paid after college. Believe me, it will be even harder at that point than it will probably be now. Find a way to make a few extra bucks now and tackle the balance before it grows out of hand.

Take action now to avoid student credit card debt along with the problems it brings later in life!