How College Students Can Avoid Credit Card Debt - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

How College Students Can Avoid Credit Card Debt

YAKIMA, Wash. - Students heading off to college have all kinds of things to prepare for, for many of them, it's the first time they'll be living away from home.  That means more responsibilities than ever, which can be trouble financially.

Davis High School graduate Hayley Derrick is heading off to Seattle University in a few weeks. She's been talking with her parents about paying for school, and other expenses.  They haven't yet settled on whether she should get a credit card.

"My mom doesn't want me to get one. She says it's because she knows my habits, and she won't be around to regulate it." Derrick says.  But once she steps on campus, she'll be inundated with credit card offers.  Booths are set up, offering low introductory rates and free gifts. 

A certified counselor with the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Yakima says students should simply avoid credit cards. She says more than 10% of her clients are in their 20's, graduating with $5,000 to $8,000 in credit card debt.  That doesn't count student loans.

"I just don't want to go that route." says Derrick.  And she doesn't have to.  She's shopping around for a card with a low interest rate and spending limit.  Those are the first things you should consider.

If you get a credit card, stay on top of balances, and make sure you pay at least the minimum balance on time. Keep in mind you don't need one to build credit history.  Derrick plans to keep her student loans in good standing to do that.  "I think if I had a credit card, and money to spend, it might be gone real quick." she says.