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Using Your Credit Card

Best student credit card use practices. This article has tips on how to maximize the benefits and keep your credit at it's best. Use your college student credit card to pay for your everyday expenses and earn points/rewards.

Most people, when they first go to college, are confronted with several unpleasant realities. It is time to start paying most of their own expenses, living on their own can be pricey and education costs include more than just tuition. Even with a part time job and help from funding sources like student loans, grants and scholarships, it can be difficult to make ends meet when one is a student. With aid drying up, it is more likely that you will find a "college funding gap" between what you can get to help you with your college related expenses and what you actually need to pay.

It is no surprise, then, that many college students turn to credit cards in order to help them ease their cash flow problems. And, if used properly, student credit cards can actually help you in terms of cash flow. But it is worth noting that if used irresponsibly, a student credit card can quickly lead to overwhelming debt and financial problems.

Expenses can be paid for with a credit card

Because student credit cards often come with higher interest rates, it is important to carefully consider which expenses you will pay for with your card. You want to pay the big expense – tuition – with a student scholarship or loan. There are both private and federal student loan programs, and you should exhaust both of these before turning to credit cards. Additionally, in many cases it is possible to have most of one's rent costs paid for with the student loan.

Unfortunately, after tuition and housing, there are still college related expenses. Books, groceries and utilities all need to be paid while you are in college. Transportation costs, whether they include gas for your car, a bus pass or maintenance on your bike, have to be dealt with as well. And, of course, it is important to spend a little money on some form of recreation on occasion. It is just these smaller expenses that many students find they have difficulty paying, and just the sorts of things that a credit card can help with.

Tips for using a student credit card to pay college expenses

If you are going to use a student credit card to pay college expenses, it is important to have some form of income. A part time job can be a good idea, since it will provide an income (though it is a meager income) and it won't interfere too much with your studies. Other tips for using a student credit card to pay college expenses include:

Plan to pay off the balance. It is best if you can pay off your credit card balance every month. However, for some students, that is not feasible. After all, the point of having the student credit card is so that you can buy all your textbooks (and maybe make utilities deposits) at the beginning of the semester and then pay chunks, rather than having to come up with the money all at once. In such cases, it is important to plan ahead. Figure out how much you need to pay each in order to have your balance paid off by the end of the semester. That way your credit card will be ready for the next semester's textbooks. Use the summers to try and amass capital from a summer job to help with the next year's expenses.

Avoid late payments. One of the most important items affecting your credit score is whether or not you make your loan payments on time. A credit card is a loan, and it counts. You need to make your credit card payments on time and pay at least the minimum (more is always better). This will also help you avoid late payment fees. These fees can add up, increasing your debt burden without you receiving any sort of goods or services in return.

Avoid exceeding your credit limit. It can be easy with student credit cards to go over your limit. This is especially true if your balance is high. Interest charges and late payment fees can tip your balance above the credit limit. This can add more fees and damage your credit score. Make sure that you keep careful track of your credit card account. Balance your credit card statement every month, and be aware of how much you are spending – and what you are spending it on.

It is possible to use student credit cards as valuable tools in helping you as you pay your college expenses. But it is also important not to get carried away. Remember to plan your credit card use so that it helps you, rather than causes problems down the road.

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