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Your Take: Should Students Get Credit Cards?

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Student StudyingOne of the big debates in personal finance is whether a college student should get a credit card. On one side you have people who believe that credit cards are evil, credit cards prey on the financially weak, and credit cards will bleed you dry. On the other side, you have people who believe that credit cards are dangerous but can be a useful financial tool for the financially educated and fiscally prudent.

I personally find myself in the second group and I liken credit cards to fire. Use properly and you can keep yourself warm and cook food. Use it recklessly and you can burn down your house and kill someone.

The problem with credit cards is that it’s so easy to get into debt. You can get your instant gratification without any of the hard work involved and you don’t feel the pain for many many years. This is a recipe for disaster for a student because it’s unreasonable to expect them to use them responsibly in the midst of their greatest taste of freedom.

When I wrote about the best student credit cards and listed some smart tips for college students, I understood the comments I got from people who said credit cards are evil and I was being irresponsible writing a post about them for college students. I wrote it because I think it’s better to educate someone than to shield and protect them.

What do you think? Should students get credit cards? Or should they avoid them like the plague?

(Photo: m00by)

{ 52 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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52 Responses to “Your Take: Should Students Get Credit Cards?”

  1. shenz says:

    Here’s my take on what should be done:

    College students – limited to upper classmen – can have credit cards provided they take a class about debt, interests/APR, fees associated with owning a CC, the true cost of credit, etc.

    When I was in college (I graduate 2006), CC offers are EVERYWHERE! They are worst than school organizations when it comes to loitering the Campus and handing out fliers. And they offered tons of free stuff – main attraction for college kids!

    Of course, financial responsibility begins at home.

    Now I’m not sure where my parents went wrong – as they are very responsible with money. All my siblings seem to have adhered to what my parents said.

    I guess at some point – the individual (i.e. me)will make her own decision. Now I’m about 15K down in CC debt! 1K is residual from my college days. I wish I knew more about the true cost of credit before all this went down! =/

  2. the question of whether a student should get a credit card is not a difficult one to me. i had a credit card throughout college and never got into any issues with it — i paid my bill on time and never carried any debt.

    but, having access to credit — at any age — can lead to trouble. i recall coming home one day and and my roommates were complaining about not having anything to eat, so we went out, on my dime (or my dime borrowed from discover). that was the day i came to the realization about what credit is good for and what it’s not good for. a week later, i forgot what i had to eat and my roommates had forgotten my gesture.

    in any case, to me having a credit card while a student is the perfect time to learn about the trappings of credit and the benefits, as well. it’s a time of life that is geared toward learning, growing, and maturing, anyway.

  3. Caitlin says:

    I think every college-age person should have a credit card, and that they should be taught how to use them properly. Courses in school as to how credit cards work and money management would be awesome and should be more widespread, but it’s also the responsibility of the parents to ensure their child understands how finances work so they don’t get themselves into trouble.

    A chainsaw can be used to build yourself a home, or you can cut your own arm off with it. It’s not the fault of the chainsaw. If you are the type of person who will forget to turn off the chainsaw when you set it in your lap (or to pay off a $30 bill), then don’t use a chainsaw, but don’t condemn those of us who know how to use them properly.

  4. When I started college, my first credit card was a Sears card. After having this for several months, I applied for a Visa card. This in turn made it easier to get a car loan after a few years. The common thread was that I always paid off my balance on the credit cards. I was lucky though, as my parents provided a good education on the evils of revolving credit. Maturity is only part of the equation. You really need to be taught how to use them.

  5. Andrey says:

    Check out the recent study made by SallieMae about student credit and spending habits. Just several interesting points from it:
    In 2008 67% freshem had credit cards.
    90% of 20 year olds had credit cards.
    An average graduate of class 2008 had an outstanding debt of $4138 (college loan is not included in this amount).
    Only 9% of students by the time of graduation owed nothing to a bank.
    40% didn’t know how would they payout for a credit card loan.

    Only 17% credit card users paid the installments monthly.
    84% used credit cards to pay for groceries, 70% to pay for clothing 69% to pay for cosmetics.
    45% of students are get nervous looking at the credit card statement.
    35% of student never talked over the details of using credit cards with their parents.

  6. Wizard Prang says:

    Let me get this straight: the bank wants to lend money to eighteen-year-olds who are not earning money and probably will not for another three years.

    To quote Timon the Meerkat: “DID I MISS SOMETHING?”

    I suppose that the phrase “due diligence” went out of the window when the Bankruptcy reform act allowed the Credit Card companies to “secure” their unsecured loans by court order.

  7. jose correia says:

    my name is jose and i love credit cards they r fun … i spent 100,000,000 on a car that i dont even drive cause i am only 12 … my dad will be mad when he finds out but its not like he cant pay it back because my dad is presidents obama’s friend ( i think ) …

  8. annie says:

    i really disagree if student are allowed to have credit card

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