How to Apply for a Credit Card While in College
One of the best times to apply for credit is during college so you have time to build your credit before making large purchases, such as a car or house. Many creditors are eager to get young adults to sign up for cards, and you may be overwhelmed with your options. Carefully read the terms and conditions, and find out whether the interest rates and fees are competitive before choosing a card.
Choosing a Credit Card
Attend events put on by creditors on your college campus.Many major credit card companies set up booths to allow students to sign up easily. They usually feature representatives who can answer any questions about their student credit card.
Pick a card designed for students.Many banks and credit card companies have cards specifically for students. They typically offer benefits and have competitive rates and fees. Some even offer cash back each semester if your GPA is above a 3.0.
Compare the features of each card before you apply.Some credit cards allow you to not only build credit in college, but also reap other benefits. Cash back, frequent flyer miles, and reward points are all popular offerings. A good student credit card should have at least one of these benefits.
Pay attention to the terms and conditions.While the typical student credit card has a high interest rate, it should not be outrageous. Research the current rates and find out what the fees are (e.g., for late payments) before you apply. You may want to ask your parents or a banking associate what an acceptable rate is for that year.
Make sure that the card does not require you to have a cosigner.Many credit card companies require people with no credit history, like students, to have a cosigner. Unless your parents are willing to take on this task, choose a card that doesn’t require a cosigner.
- With a cosigner, you may get a lower interest rate, but the downside is that the cosigner's credit will be affected by any late payments that you make.
Filling out the Application
Apply in person or online.Representatives on campus usually offer paper applications, which they allow you to fill out in person. You can also visit a credit card company's website to apply, which may offer you a faster response than a paper application.
Be prepared to answer whether you have a checking or savings account.The typical application for credit asks this question. You will not need to put the account numbers, but most companies just want to know that you have at least one type of bank account so that you can make the monthly payments.
Gather your personal information.You’ll need to provide standard information like your name, address, gender, and birthday, as well as your Social Security number and your mother's maiden name. You will be asked for these for security reasons, so be sure to have this information readily available.
Put your permanent address on the application for credit.Your permanent address is generally your parent’s address, not your dorm number or apartment near campus. You will likely use the card for years, and if you put your campus address you’ll then need to change the address during the summer, and for future semesters, in order to get the statement sent to the correct location.
Using Your Card Responsibly
Keep track of your card.Losing your card can be a huge hassle. Not only will you need to request a new one, but whoever finds your card may use it. You’ll have to prove to the credit card company that you didn’t authorize the charges, and it can take quite a while for them to be reversed.
Don’t spend more than you can pay back.It can be easy to rack up tons of charges on your new card, especially if you aren’t used to managing your own money. However, you should really have the money in your bank account to cover any purchases you make. That way, you can pay off the purchases immediately and avoid high interest fees.
- Use your credit card to buy groceries or get gas, then pay off the balance. You could also use your card for the very occasional splurge, as long as you don’t make a habit of it.
- Resist the temptation to buy a new flatscreen TV with your credit card or pick up the tab when your study group goes out for dinner. If you can’t afford to pay for it in cash, you will end up paying way more than you spent due to interest and fees.
Make your payments on time.It’s essential that you make every single payment on time. If you don’t, not only will you have to pay a fee, but it will reduce your credit score. Set a reminder on your phone if you find yourself forgetting to make the payments.
- You can easily make your payments online or by calling the number on the back of the card.
- It’s important to keep your credit score as high as possible, as it is used to determine whether or not you qualify to rent or buy a home or car.
Pay more than the minimum payment.If you only pay the minimum payment, you’re likely to only pay the interest and never make a dent in the principal balance (the amount you charged in purchases) on your card. Try to pay more than the minimum payment each month in order to pay off the card.
- For example, if your minimum payment is per month, pay each month, or if you can afford it.
Video: Getting your first Credit Card
Lemon and Lime Drizzle Cake Recipe
How to Work Ranch Jobs
After-Thanksgiving Beauty Recovery
Anti-inflammatory Curried Tuna Salad Avocado Boats
How to Socialize a Dog with Other Dogs
How to Look at a House on Google Earth
Bravest Woman Ever Risks Life to Save SEVEN from Devastating Flood
Weekly Recap: Nine Impeccably-Dressed Celebrities and One Fashion FauxPas
How to Chase a Snake out of Your Yard
Czech government faces no-confidence vote over PMs scandal