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Credit Cards Targeting Students

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RICHLAND, Wash-- It's not something many college students know enough about: the power of a credit card.  Credit unions say as kids enter college, credit card companies mail students new cards.  The goal is to get them to sign up for their credit card, and oftentimes it works.  By accepting a new card, though, students sometimes overlook the responsibility.

"You have your car payments, pizza, so when money gets tight, it's easy to bring out the plastic," says credit counselor Laurie Tufford.

Many times students move to college and sign-up for a credit card to use for emergencies.  But the temptation to put off paying can intrigue anyone.

"Initially it was for emergencies," says one Washington State University student.  But like so many others, this student began to expand the use of the credit card.  Not before long, the bills pile up.

And when those bills don't get paid, your debt builds up.  For students, it oftentimes proves too difficult to overcome because the more time classes take up, the less time there is for work.  And the less work, the less money.  Ultimately, this will harm your credit score.

Just about anyone can see your credit score.  If a student needs to lease a car, for example, the rates will likely be higher for someone with a bad score than one with a good score.  And even businesses are looking at your credit score.

Credit unions have some tips for students to keep in mind when it comes to a credit card.  For starters, track your payments.  This has become easier as the internet has expanded.  You can track your purchases from your home computer.  Next, never spend more than you can pay off.  Keep in mind, credit card companies lend you money; they don't just give it to you.  Also, keep the number of credit cards to one or two.

"Don't get 7,8,9," Laurie says.  "It can turn into a full-time job."

And when all else fails, use common sense.  If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.