Your bright-young-thing goes to college as a student, away from home for the first time, full of the thrill of freedom. And she needs money to spend. While teaching her to manage her money, very often the question is - is it ok to let her have access to huge amounts of credit in the first place? Is it OK to give her a student credit card? Credit card companies are among the first to line up at her door with their attractive offers including freebies, zero interest offers, etc. Before you know it, the student credit card becomes a family liability - a credit trap from which it is difficult to escape. What should one know about credit cards for college students in order to avoid this credit trap?
Pros and Cons of Student Credit Cards
Student credit cards are, in fact, more good than bad. Like anything else, one needs to learn how to choose and handle them correctly, how to position them as an opportunity to build a good credit history, and how to control their usage. A student credit card can be used to teach budgeting and finance as well as to allow flexibility in expenditure while making it safer to use than cash.
Joint Ownership of a Student Credit Card
You need to first see what kind of credit card is best suited for your teen. Some credit cards allow joint ownership between student and parent - that's the one for you. Lay down a few rules about usage, including deciding on a budget and penalties for misuse. Pick up the credit tab regularly but allow the student to pay back some of the balance with their own earnings. This will encourage them to hold summer jobs and part-time jobs and learn to earn. The advantage of a joint card is that the parent gets a monthly statement which allows them to monitor all expenditures. That's an opportunity for developing a sense of value in the young college student.
Credit cards for college students can have very low credit limits. This places a restriction on the total spend, forcing the student to think and plan their expenses. Parents can use these cards to show how the money spent needs to be repaid. It can also be an opportunity to teach budgeting to your child and teaching them to choose between what one needs and what one wants.
Student Credit Card Incentives
Companies that issue credit cards for college students also woo clients through attractive cash back or reward points schemes. Once the student sees value in spending intelligently, and pockets rewards for making the right choices, they may look for occasions to use the credit card knowing that there is repayment that is within his control. It allows them the freedom to make the purchases now, knowing that they have the ability to pay it all back in time. Above all, a student credit card becomes invaluable in times of emergency when cash and parents are far away.
So if you want to prevent your family and your teen from falling into the credit card debt trap, you need to first have a sensible and disciplined approach to credit cards yourself. Teens will sub-consciously follow your financial example and behavior patterns when they have access to a student credit card. Therefore, a student credit card can quickly become a ticket to financial freedom or it can deteriorate into a credit trap. The solution lies in giving limited exposure to your child by opting for student credit cards that offer joint ownership. Credit cards for college students are great opportunities for them to begin building a good credit history, which is an important consideration in their first jobs. However, if the teen gets confused signals and is unable to prioritize their budgets, then they will certainly head for trouble. Therefore, the first credit card used by your teen can become a credit trap as easily as it becomes an avenue to financial freedom.
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