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Should You Have a Credit Card While in College?

If you are like millions of other students heading off to college or are already there, you are probably inundated with credit card offers. Most college students get several offers for credit throughout the year. But is it a good idea for you to have a credit card while you are in college, when let’s face it, your finances are probably not that great?

In order to answer the debate about whether or not college students should have credit cards, we need to look at the pros and cons associated with each position:


On the pros side, students are often strapped for money, and credit cards can be a legitimate way for them to help make ends meet. Having a credit card may give you assistance in getting by each month, or it may be there for those times that an emergency expense arises. Either way, it can make your college days easier to manage when it comes to your financial affairs. Having a credit card at this time can be a good way to start building your credit score, especially if you are responsible with them.


When it comes to the cons of having credit cards while you are in college, there are plenty. For starters, you may end up racking up debt that you are not prepared to pay off once you graduate. Plus, you will be compounding a great deal of interest along the way. Having a lot of credit at this time, especially when your income is lower, may also have a negative impact on your credit score. Not having the credit card will do more to help you learn to live within your means.

Some college students do great with having a credit card, while others may find it a hurdle they must clear later. If you do get a credit card while in college, you will want to limit it to only one or two, so you don’t put too much financial obligation on yourself before finishing college.

So whether or not you should get a credit card in college really comes down to a personal decision. There is no right or wrong answer, as many people do well with them, and many don’t. You have to ask yourself if you are responsible enough to not abuse it and to make sure you make the payments that come along with it.

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