cards can be great tools or they can be disastrous, depending
on how you use them. You may have used credit cards in high
school. If so, you probably know the deal.
In college, students are bombarded with offers for credit
cards. Tons of them. It sounds great when the envelope says,
"Pre-approved: Zero percent interest."
If you really need a credit card, shop around for one that
meets your needs and is the best deal. Ask some tough questions:
Does it have an annual fee? What's the interest rate (some
are very high)? Does the credit card offer something in return
such as air miles, discounts, or cash back? Try to find a
card with no annual fee, a low interest rate, and premiums.
Ask about credit card deals at your credit union or bank.
Check out the Web sites listed below. The first two sites
can help you compare the best deals by checking interest rates
and fees. The Federal Reserve site has good information on
how to choose the right credit card, understand interest rates
and fees, and learn the definitions for common financial terms.
Check these out!
Many of the current Ventures Scholars say they wish
someone had explained how to use, or avoid using, credit
cards in college. Credit cards can be very useful when
used to good advantage (pay them off at the end of the
month). But consider these statistics:
The percentage of students holding at least one
card in 2001 has risen 24 percent since 1998.
Although freshmen have the lowest rate of card possession
among undergraduates, 54 percent carry a credit card.
The percentage of students with at least one card
increases to 92 percent in sophomore year.
Eighty-three percent of undergraduate students have
at least one credit carda 24 percent increase
Average credit card balance among undergraduate
students is $2,327.
Twenty-one percent of undergraduates with cards
have high-level balances between $3,000 and $7,000a
61 percent increase over the 2000 population.
Graduating students have an average debt of $20,402
in combined education loans and credit card balances.
On average, undergraduates double their average
credit card debtand triple the number of credit
cards in their walletsfrom the time they arrive
on campus until graduation.
Look at these other sections for more information
on credit cards: