We’re in the beginning of a new school year, which means there’s a new batch of kids that credit card companies are scoping out. Freshmen are walking around, getting familiar with the campus and their new stage in life, as a legal adult. With this new stage in life comes new responsibilities and new opportunities. The new opportunity and responsibility could come in the form of credit cards, and while many college students feel this is the perfect way to show just how adult they are, this could be a recipe for disaster!

Credit card companies set up shop in high foot traffic areas so they can find the vulnerable student looking for “free cash” and free swag. “Just sign up for this credit card and get free lunch!” Who’s going to turn that down? You should. Credit cards and college students usually don’t turn out too well, and here’s why:

  • You’re not educated on credit cards: Sure you may know what a credit card is, but chances are you don’t know exactly how they work. Credit cards are often seen as free money and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Interest rates and fees are associated with credit cards, so the companies can get as much money as possible. You may use your credit card for $200 concert tickets, and if you only pay the minimum and allow interest to build up, you could be paying more than double for that concert ticket.
  • You can’t afford a credit card: Credit cards offer way too much temptation. Even with a low credit limit of $300, you could be tempted to use all $300 of that card on things you think you need. When the bill comes around and you don’t have that $300, you can find yourself in debt for the next few months.
  • You’re already in debt: A good chunk of college students are already in debt due to student loans. Sure, you may not have to start paying them back until 6 months after you graduate, but credit card debt doesn’t wait. The companies want their money right away! If you don’t have a job to cover that credit card, you will find yourself even deeper in debt than you anticipated being. At least with a student loan, you’ll have a degree to show for it. What will you have to show for your credit card debt?
  • You consider everything an emergency: My mom told me when I got my first credit card it should only be used for emergencies. I agreed. But then everything became an emergency. I put my college textbooks on the card. I needed gas. I needed food. I needed new clothes. You start justifying all your purchases all the way up to your limit. You have to be disciplined with a credit card, and there’s just so many traps you can fall for.
If you can, try to avoid getting a credit card. Sure, they’re great for building credit, but they’re so easy to fall into debt with. If you do decide to get a credit card, be sure to educate yourself on what it means to have a credit card. Know you interest rates, know your fees, know your due dates, and don’t buy anything you don’t have the cash for.