What are college students getting out of their education? Preparation for a career, lessons in responsibility, and friendships that last a lifetime, sure. But here’s something else they can start working on in school: a solid credit history and a good credit score.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: “College kids and credit cards are a dangerous mix. No way I’m getting him one.” That’s your option, of course, but if you take it, you might be denying your student an important opportunity to build good credit.
What Does a College Student Need with a Credit Card?
If you went to college as recently as 15 years ago, you probably paid cash for most of your day-to-day purchases, like school supplies or coffee on the way to class. Today, however, we’re a swipe-and-go society, so a credit card provides your student the kind of convenience we’re all used to. It’s also safer to carry a credit card than it is to carry a bundle of cash. When your student is out at night with friends and it’s time to settle the tab, for instance, he or she won’t have to take a potentially dangerous walk to the ATM.
Credit Card or Debit Card?
Some parents think a debit card is a good alternative: “At least they’re drawing from an account with cash in it instead of borrowing money every month.” True, but think about this: using debit cards instead of cash comes with the risk of fraud or identity theft. Plus, debit cards don’t offer the same level of fraud protection that credit cards do (which is why people should never make online purchases with a debit card). If someone gets hold of your student’s debit card, they can drain the account of every dollar. With a credit card, your student’s potential losses are limited if the card (or their identity) is ever stolen.
Who Shouldn’t Get a Credit Card?
A credit card is a good idea only if your college student is able to pay the bill on time and in full every month. If your child isn’t wired that way, he or she may not be a good candidate for a card. Similarly, if your student is impulsive with money or a big spender, a credit card may not be a good option. But for those mature enough to handle one, a credit card can be a useful tool for building their credit history.
Making regular credit card payments proves that your student is a responsible borrower. Four years of that kind of responsibility will get them into the working world with a good credit score—and that’s important.
A misstep or a bad stretch with credit doesn’t have to be a disaster. If you or somebody you love has trouble with their credit score, a credit repair service such as Ovation can help. Contact us today and we will set you up with a free consultation to discuss your options.