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Choosing a Credit Card

How to choose a college student credit card - learn what to look for with interest rates, balance transfers, credit card fees, and credit card rewards. Get the best student credit card using these tips.

Credit company representatives have become fixtures on college campuses, hawking credit cards and offering free merchandise when you sign up. Indeed, many people now get their first credit card on the college campus – receiving a free ball cap or fleece blanket “just for applying.” But getting free stuff from the credit card company representative shouldn’t be the main reason you choose a credit card. There plenty of more important qualities to look for in terms of choosing a student credit card.

Choosing a student credit card

A student credit card has its own advantages. However, it is important to choose your credit card carefully. This is because what credit card you choose can impact how much money you pay in interest charges, how your credit looks to possible lenders down the road and whether you save money through rewards. Here are some things to think about when choosing which student credit card is best for you:

• Interest rates. This could be one of the most important considerations when it comes to choosing your student credit card. The interest rate is how much money you pay to the credit card company for the privilege of borrowing the money. (You have to realize that a credit card represents a loan.) If you have a higher interest rate, you will pay more if you carry a balance from month to month. You should also find out when the interest charges are made. Some offer grace periods, so that you aren’t charged interest for 20 days. Knowing when interest is charged can help you make decisions about payment.

• Fees. There are different types of fees that come with credit cards. You should choose a student credit card with lower fees. Some fees that credit cards charge include balance transfer fees, over the limit fees, late payment fees and other fees. Check with the credit card company to see what sort of fees are charged, and what sorts of things they are charged for. Some charge a percentage of your account balance, and others charge a flat fee.

• Rewards. Many credit cards offer rewards programs. If you get a student credit card with a rewards program, you can benefit from responsible purchases. Consider your needs. Do your parents live far away from where you go to college? A credit card rewards program that offers air miles for travel might be a good choice. Or, if you are interested in buying consumer items, but don’t want to spend money on them, a rewards program that lets you earn points for purchases might work. And there are credit card rewards programs on student credit cards that offer cash back.

• Available balance. You should find out what possible balance limits are offered. You don’t want a student credit card that has too high of a balance, but you also want one that offers a high enough balance for your needs.

• Credit card company Web site. Another consideration you can make is the Web site that the credit card company offers. Does it provide educational information on the Web site? You want a student credit card company that offers helpful tips about staying out of debt, responsible use of credit and other financial education. You want a student credit card that offers good information and help.

As you can see, the free merchandise offered by credit card company representatives is far from the most important consideration. There are plenty of other things to consider – things that may have a bigger impact on your overall financial situation.

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