Having a Credit Card at State College

Credit cards are an essential tool to a successful college student. As much as you may resist this idea, it is strongly suggested that you teach your student about owning a credit card, and to making responsible decisions regarding credit.

Using credit cards at Penn StateThe best place to start looking for a credit card is through your personal banking establishment. They may provide attractive interest rates based on your account standing and be able to automatically link your payments to your bank account. Another good feature of owning a credit card obtained through your personal bank, is that you can stop by the local branch for face to face answers to questions and get help if any problems arise.

If you do not like the rates, or if your bank does not offer credit cards, another great place to look is www.capitalone.com. Capital One has excellent student card accounts and a productive online system to monitor your transactions, statements and pay bills online.

Some things to make sure your credit card has:

Credit is not something that should be abused. Many of today's problems in the United States can be attributed to companies abusing credit and individuals living beyond their means. If you honestly believe your student cannot handle a credit card than that is of course a decision you will need to make. However, the only way they will begin to understand and respect credit is to use it.

Tips and strategies about the basics of credit cards

Credit cards should be viewed as a convenience, and never a reason to spend money that you don't have. Credit cards should merely be a substitute for carrying around extra amounts of cash in your wallet. A purchase should NEVER under any circumstances be made unless you have the cash in your bank account to back it up. The rule of thumb is: "If you don’t have the cash, you obviously cannot afford it".

Manage your cash flowThe second tip we can offer is to make sure your student understands the very real danger of identity theft and credit card fraud. Teaching them to safeguard their card and to be careful where they use it is essential. Never use your card online if you have second thoughts about the security of a website. Never give your credit card information away to someone over the phone that you do not know or trust. Lastly, always make sure you check your statement of activity once or even twice a month. The best way to catch a situation where someone may have possibly stolen your credit card is to locate any abnormal purchases by viewing your statement.

Your student should not be afraid to use their card because of these possibilities, because they are somewhat rare. Owning a credit card can often be a good way to keep a budget. Putting monthly bills on your credit card is a fine way to manage your cash flows. When you pay your credit card on time, you are essentially using someone else’s money for 30 days for things you can use now.

These are very basic start-up tips on how to start your student on the path to learning about credit. However, you must be the guiding voice. Talk to them, teach them, and who knows maybe you will learn something as well!

Talk to other parents about credit cards for students

Please visit our PSU Moms messageboard to discuss credit and finances with other parents in our community. You can also ask a student about their experiences on campus using credit.