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i'm gonna be 18 in exactly a week and i'm looking to get a credit card. i thought i would come online and do some research on each, only to find there's SO many choices. i'm confused! my brother isn't any help, either LOL

can someone help me out and tell me just the basic, most important things to look for? any tips would be appreciated!

p.s. DON'T start with the "stay away from credit cards!" thing because i'm really responsible with money (even my mom hasn't given me a hard time because she knows i won't go crazy).

 
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My 2 cents... avoid an annual fee (cost for simply having the card) and get the lowest APR that is available to you. Avoid Household Bank backed cards!

There are a few other things that I think are important (bonus miles, cash back, etc), but I dont know if that kind of stuff is available for 1st time card holders.

Originally Posted by Jennifer i'm gonna be 18 in exactly a week and i'm looking to get a credit card. i thought i would come online and do some research on each, only to find there's SO many choices. i'm confused! my brother isn't any help, either LOL
can someone help me out and tell me just the basic, most important things to look for? any tips would be appreciated!

p.s. DON'T start with the "stay away from credit cards!" thing because i'm really responsible with money (even my mom hasn't given me a hard time because she knows i won't go crazy).

 
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My first CC is from MBNA, and I got it at my college. If you're a college student, there are plenty of opportunities for you to get a CC without APR very easily. MBNA is a pretty good card but they aren't super flexible with late payments.

The card I use the most now is my Discover Card because it gives cashback.
Try get one of those w/o APR.

 
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thanks for replying, girls!

tracey, i was really confused about the APR and if it was important or not, but now i'll look into that even more. about the annual fee, i realize i should stay away from that because it even SOUNDS dumb and like some sort of scam, in a way.

wongy, my bro told me he uses discover and my mom USED to, but doesn't anymore, for some reason. at my job (at a restaurant), we don't accept discover and my boss told me because it's a horrible credit company. i was thinking of skipping that all together, but maybe i'll look into it more.

thanks so much, again, for your replies!

 
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Yeah, def look into the APR. That's the money that the bank is going to make off of you. My sis had some financial difficulties a couple of years ago and she had a card that was at 26% APR. When she made her monthly payment, a HUGE chunk of that money went towards interest alone. iirc, one of her payments was like $75 and roughly $40 went towards interest. That SUCKS!! The lower the APR, the more $ you'll keep in your pocket. HTH

Originally Posted by Jennifer thanks for replying, girls!
tracey, i was really confused about the APR and if it was important or not, but now i'll look into that even more. about the annual fee, i realize i should stay away from that because it even SOUNDS dumb and like some sort of scam, in a way.

 
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Originally Posted by Never2muchMU Yeah, def look into the APR. That's the money that the bank is going to make off of you. My sis had some financial difficulties a couple of years ago and she had a card that was at 26% APR. When she made her monthly payment, a HUGE chunk of that money went towards interest alone. iirc, one of her payments was like $75 and roughly $40 went towards interest. That SUCKS!! The lower the APR, the more $ you'll keep in your pocket. HTH 26%?! oh, my god! maybe i'll get lucky and find one with 1% apr

you definitely did help! thank you!

 
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I found this article on MSN Money . This is just an excerpt of the article.



Colleges are raking in the dough

Instead, the card issuers aggressively went after the student market. They allied themselves with college campuses by signing exclusive marketing agreements. According to Robert Manning, author of the book "Credit Card Nation," those deals now pay the nation's 300 largest universities nearly $1 billion a year.

Used well, credit cards can play an important role in a college student's life. They teach financial responsibility and ease the way into the postgraduate financial world. "The best reference you'll find on a credit report is a major credit card paid on time, all the time," Detweiler says.

But credit cards also can leave financial bruises that don't heal until long after the diploma has yellowed on the wall. Experts say students too often learn about the high cost of credit cards the hard way -- after they run up balances.

"Learning as you go along is expensive," said Steve Bucci, debt adviser for Bankrate.com and president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Southern New England.

Play it straight

The best way to avoid having to explain that bill to Mom and Dad is to learn to get by with one or two low-limit credit cards. Keep those balances down. A credit limit of $1,000 is plenty for most students.

"We have a rule of thumb for kids who say they need a card for emergencies," Bucci said. "If you can eat it, drink it or wear it, then it's not an emergency."

"We also caution kids: If a lender gives you cards with $1,000 or $2,000 limits, that doesn't mean you can afford to carry a $1,000 or $2,000 balance."

Carrying balances on credit cards can be quite costly, especially if you can make no more than the minimum payment each month. Detweiler says that by sticking to minimum payments, it would take you more than 12 years and $1,115 in interest to pay off a $1,000 bill on a card with an 18% annual rate.

Worse yet, falling behind on credit card payments hurts your credit, and a bad credit rating can affect your ability to rent an apartment or buy a car or house. The mark stays on your credit record even if the bill is later paid in full. Insurance companies and employers may also check credit reports.

"It's not like cutting a class," Bucci said. "The credit report folks are there and they are watching, and it will be on your report for seven years."



10 tips for handling credit wisely

  • Always remember that credit is a loan. It's real money that you must repay. Before you apply for the first card, decide what the card will be used for -- Emergencies only? School supplies? -- and determine how the monthly bills will be paid.
  • Go slowly. Get one card with a low limit and use it responsibly before you even consider getting another.
  • Shop around for the best deal. Try Bankrate.com's most recent survey of student credit cards. (See link at left under Related Sites.)
  • Study your card agreement closely. Also, always read the fine-print fliers enclosed with every bill. Credit card offers differ substantially, and the issuer usually can change the terms at will with 15 days' notice.
  • Try to pay off your total balance each month. Just paying the minimum is a trap: If you try to pay off a $1,000 debt on an 18 percent card by just paying the minimum each month, it would take more than 12 years to repay.
  • Always pay on time. A single slip-up will place a black mark on your credit record -- and could cause the card issuer to jack up your interest rate to the max.
  • Set a budget, follow it closely. Watch how much you're paying on credit. A good rule of thumb is to keep your debt payments below 10 percent of your net income after taxes. So if you take home $750 a month, spend no more than $75 a month on credit.
  • Keep in touch with your issuer. Always notify the company promptly when you move. In the event you must be late on a payment, call before it's late. Card companies want your business for life, so they may be willing to make alternate payment arrangements that won't leave a mark on your credit rating.
  • Close accounts you aren't using. Having available-but-unused credit can count against you when it comes time to buy a car. That's because lenders don't like it when you have the ability to quickly go deep into debt.
  • Avoid getting into trouble. At the first sign of credit danger, such as using one card to pay off another, make the card harder to use. Only carry it when you plan to use it, lock it up in an inaccessible place or entrust it to your parents.
I also found this link on student credit cards and which one can suit your needs.

HTH!

 
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marisol, thank you SO much for that! that was so helpful. i saved it on word. THANK YOU!

should i even really bother with the credit cards for college students, though? i KNOW i'll be responsible with money (i've been paying bills since i was 15, believe it or not). i don't care for all that helpful/beneficial stuff they suggest. what do you think?

 
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Definitely look into a low APR & one that doesn't have an annual fee. I used to have Discover 10 years ago, but closed it b/c not many merchants accepted it. However, like Jess said, they offer cashback which is always a good thing.

Like Tracey mentioned, you should try to look into one that offers some type of reward--miles, points, rebates, etc. Try Shell MasterCard which gives a rebate toward gasoline purchases. I like my Airline miles card & am happy w/it, but the annual fee is around $50, but is totally worthwhile.

If you belong to a Credit Union, you should look into their CCs b/c they often have lower interest rates. Since this'll be your first, it might be smarter to start w/them b/c they've seen your savings pattern. Plus, you can always transfer $$$ directly to pay the balance. I like this option b/c of the convenience.

Good luck!

 
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Dont count anything out until you've compared the pros/cons of each type of card. who knows?..the deals that may exist on the student offer may be just what you want. Compare everything!!


Originally Posted by Jennifer marisol, thank you SO much for that! that was so helpful. i saved it on word. THANK YOU!
should i even really bother with the credit cards for college students, though? i KNOW i'll be responsible with money (i've been paying bills since i was 15, believe it or not). i don't care for all that helpful/beneficial stuff they suggest. what do you think?

 
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IMO, you should get a credit card. Why? Well, you have said that you are good at handling $$ so by having a credit card, you can start creating a good credit history. If you manage your credit cards the right way, this will show on your credit history report and will be a benefit to you in the future. Also, having a credit card is also good for emergencies (and by emergencies I don't mean the new MAC color line
). This is going to sound so cliche but if I knew then what I now about credit cards and debt when I was your age ( I am 25 now), I would have a not so spotty credit report.

 
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Originally Posted by keaLoha Definitely look into a low APR & one that doesn't have an annual fee. I used to have Discover 10 years ago, but closed it b/c not many merchants accepted it. However, like Jess said, they offer cashback which is always a good thing.
Like Tracey mentioned, you should try to look into one that offers some type of reward--miles, points, rebates, etc. Try Shell MasterCard which gives a rebate toward gasoline purchases. I like my Airline miles card & am happy w/it, but the annual fee is around $50, but is totally worthwhile.

If you belong to a Credit Union, you should look into their CCs b/c they often have lower interest rates. Since this'll be your first, it might be smarter to start w/them b/c they've seen your savings pattern. Plus, you can always transfer $$$ directly to pay the balance. I like this option b/c of the convenience.

Good luck!

thanks for replying!
what's a credit union? sorry, but i've just never been familiar with any of this stuff
you said they'll see my savings pattern, but how? i've never had a bank account or anything like that.

thanks again for replying


 
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Originally Posted by Mariposa IMO, you should get a credit card. Why? Well, you have said that you are good at handling $$ so by having a credit card, you can start creating a good credit history. If you manage your credit cards the right way, this will show on your credit history report and will be a benefit to you in the future. Also, having a credit card is also good for emergencies (and by emergencies I don't mean the new MAC color line
). This is going to sound so cliche but if I knew then what I now about credit cards and debt when I was your age ( I am 25 now), I would have a not so spotty credit report. LOL @ the mac comment

i agree with what you said and you know, you have to start somewhere, right?

thank you


 
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Originally Posted by Mariposa Also, having a credit card is also good for emergencies (and by emergencies I don't mean the new MAC color line
) OMG!!! That's NOT an emergency? I guess I'm not as finance savvy as I thought!! (just kidding!)
 
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Originally Posted by Never2muchMU OMG!!! That's NOT an emergency? I guess I'm not as finance savvy as I thought!! (just kidding!)
LOL
i forgot to add that i don't think i'll be able to get a student card because all of them that i've looked up so far say you have to be enrolled in a 4-year college/university and i'll be attending a 2-year one. i guess that narrows it all down...

 
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Originally Posted by Jennifer LOL
i forgot to add that i don't think i'll be able to get a student card because all of them that i've looked up so far say you have to be enrolled in a 4-year college/university and i'll be attending a 2-year one. i guess that narrows it all down...

You might check with the student relations department to see if they have any information on student credit cards. What school are you planning to attend? When I got my first student credit card, there were tons of booths at my campus offering things like t-shirts to footballs for students to sign up for them. The temptation was everywhere.
Here some info on credit unions:



I work for a financial institution, can you all tell?


 
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It's true that Discover isn't accepted at as man places as Visa and Mastercard, but I've found that an increasing number of retailers are accepting Discover. the only places I have found that don't take Discover is Macy's and Neiman's. In Hawaii, anyway.


A good thing about Discover is the cashback bonus, of course. Also, if you have a Sears nearby, you can pay your Discover bill at any Sears cash register. My APR is under 10%. I pay my bill in full every month so I don't pay any interest anyway.

If you intend on paying your bill in full every month, it doesn't really matter what your APR will be. It will likely be high anyway since you are new to credit, but if you have good habits your APR will go down and your credit line will go up. Hth!

 
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A credit union is similar to a bank, but owned by its members. Rates tend to be better for loans, CCs, savings, etc. If you don't have a financial institution, you need to get one. The chance of a CC company giving you a card will be greater if you have @ least a savings account. Talk to your parents about it.
 
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Not to forget that these "college credit cards" like to increase your %rate out of the blue, without giving you any notice. Mine went up from 10% or so to 24!!!!!!!!! And if you are like me and don't always look at your statement carefully, you wouldn't even notice! I now have a credit card with my credit union and couldn't be more happy. about 9% rate, and I can be sure that I won't get an inncrease to 24%!!!

 

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