The Benefits of Having a Credit Card in College

Most people will advise you to refrain from applying and/or using a credit until after you graduate from college. The reason why: credit card companies target young college students. These companies understand that you are still at an age where your parents will foot the bill if necessary and most importantly – they want to reap the benefits of the long credit life you have ahead of you. Fear not. You can use this to your advantage and here’s how:

Rental applications
Your personal dorm room is the first step towards your independence as an adult.  At some point, you will want to move off campus and rent an apartment with your friends or rent an apartment on your own. Either way, the landlord will perform a credit check. Having an extensive and well maintained credit history will prove to beneficial as credit card companies will view you as a high-quality candidate.

The longer the relationship, the better
The earlier you begin a positive relationship with a credit lender, the better it will look on your credit report once you graduate and begin your transition into adulthood. A proven track record of good credit will assist you with obtaining a higher credit limit or switch to a card with different/better benefits.

If you do choose to apply for a credit card while you’re in college, it is highly recommended that you either use it for small purchases that can quickly and easily be paid back or just use it in cases of emergency such as:

  • Unexpected dental or medical expenses
  • Emergency flights, bus, or train rides home
  • Emergency car rentals

It will be tempting to use this credit card for for items that do not necessarily count as emergencies. Practice self restraint and be sure to track your spending.

The benefits of having a credit card in college are abundant, but accountability and self-awareness need to be practiced regularly. Know your limits, spending habits, and make sure you are responsible enough to maintain a good credit history.