In College and Starting Out

In college and just starting out as young adults, read along as these bloggers face a new stage and increased responsibility.

Credit Cards Can Be a Dangerous Option for College Students

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During my first year of college, I began receiving letters from credit card companies saying that I was pre-approved for their credit cards.  At first, I was hesitant to apply, but my urge to splurge got the best of me and I decided to give in. 


Even though everyone was telling me that this was a dangerous decision, I applied for a credit card and was approved with a limit of $500.  I told myself that I was only going to use the card for emergencies and to build up my credit – but I soon found out that I had no will-power.  I was 18 years old with $500 to spend – not understanding the full realization that someday I’d have to pay it back. 


Without a second thought, I was soon in debt and things only got worse from there.  With Christmas around the corner, I found myself approved for yet another credit card, but this time it was a whopping $2,000.  How could I resist?  Knowing I needed money to buy gifts – I thought this would be a good way to do just that.  Soon after, I got a clothing store credit card with a very low credit limit.  Needless to say I spent that right away.


I quickly became overwhelmed with credit card payments.  I was now only 19 and already in debt.  I didn’t know the basics: like that it was bad to pay only the minimum payments and that only a small amount of your payment went to your principal.  I was young and ignorant to credit cards – a credit card company’s dream customer.  I thought I was being smart by getting credit cards to build up my credit, but I was doing the opposite – I was destroying whatever credit I had.  Even worse, having credit card debt affected my chances of getting enough loans to pay for college. 


I eventually sought help and consolidated my debt.  It was a smart decision, because I was only paying one reasonable payment a month, rather than three different payments that were getting me nowhere. 


I learned my lesson early in my college career, but so many students don’t know what they’re getting themselves into when it comes to credit cards.  Students apply for credit cards to help pay for books, gas, food, and other necessities without realizing how easy it is to fall into debt.  Before jumping on the opportunity to get a credit card, research your other options first.   If you need cash for books, ask for extra money when you apply for your student loans (just enough for books), get on your campuses meal plan instead of using a credit card for food at the grocery store or restaurants, and if you really need money for gas – consider a gas gift card that is solely for the purpose of gas, meaning that card and money can’t be used for anything else. 


Credit cards can be helpful when you’re in a bind, but they can also be your worst enemy – especially when you’re in college and low on cash.  It is important to know your options and to be smart about credit cards. 

  • Very good advice! This was my cycle..but I never sought consolidation help until I was 22 and got a unsecured loan of $10,000. Then went back on the credit card binge. Now, I'm finally paying off my credit cards with Care One, and only have $6000 of that $10000 to pay off. Its a lot of money, but a good feeling to finally feel in control and be knowledgeable about money. My best advice is to AVOID credit cards in college (too much temptation), and get a credit card afterwards to build credit, but freeze it in a block of ice so you can only get to it in true emergencies! Sounds extreme, but out of sight, out of mind.

  • Lots of times students will always apply for credit card right after they enroll in college, which is a magnet for credit card companies to start charging highest interest fees. After students graduate, they'll fall into thousands of dollars in interests and principle, no way they would pay it off because the interest fee will always keep adding it to the principle, thus owing more than like a million or so within 25 years. I learn some good experience that credit card will always go after low-income people and college students who just graduated from high school. Best way is to say no to credit companies and enroll yourself to LifeLock.

  • This was my problem. I had so many required credit hours for my major in college that there truly was no time for a part-time job until my last year (and my fifth year!) I also took summer classes so it was hard to hold a job then too...

    The bank where I held a checking account offered me a credit card and for some reason they kept upping the limit which just inclined me to spend more. Then the bank affiliated with my university's alumni association offered me another one, and then another from capital one, and a department store. I finally realized it was way out of control shortly after getting my first job, which pays fairly decently and I still was barely making it through the month with payments.

    In all I had racked up somewhere around $12,000. I'm now down to about $6,000 and just short of 2 years of being free of credit card debt. As soon as I qualify for a low limit credit card it will only be used for emergencies. I can't believe how stupid I was and how much better off I could be right now if I hadn't done this to myself. Needless to say I as soon as my son gets to that age, he will be forewarned and probably tired of me talking about it!

  • I started in college as well. Racked up several store credit cards and a few major cards. Within one year after I graduated I had accumulated nearly $20,000 in credit card debt. And that doesn't take into account student loans.....

    My husband & I wised up (after falling nearly $30K in the hole when everything was said and done)

    We're entering our final year on the program and can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    We've said when we're done with the program we'll only keep the two cards we're been responsible with - both only with $1500 limits. If we can't pay cash - we won't buy.

  • As a student, I accumulated debt to pay off my  fees and it is  now catching with me.It is true that the credit card companies make credit cards readily available to students and before you know you are knee deep in debt but we are personally responsible for our finanances and I would advise that students take  govt subsidized loans and grants which carry very low interest rates whilst in college. Stay away from credit cards.

  • OMG, it does happen to other people!  I have been so embarassed how I ran up credit card debt when becoming a college student.  After my 10,000 in credit cards, and my student loans that are $10,000, I am starting to feel college was a really bad decision!  Hopefully Careone can get me out of the hole I have put myself in and I can start to feel better about furthering my education

  • This is such a good blog. I'm 20 years old and I am in this same situation. I'm frustrated with myself, but at the same time I'm frustrated that credit card companies will continue to raise to credit limit. Just recently Capital One sent me a notice that I'm pre-approved for a second higher credit card. My first one is in the DSP now!

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