the world of credit can be a maze for the college student. This is why you should always exercise caution when applying for credit cards and using the cards you have. By making careful choices and responsible decisions, you can avoid financial disaster and get the most out your credit. If you educate yourself on credit and understand the terms of all cards you apply for, you can begin to create an excellent credit history for yourself. And with a positive credit history, the sky is the limit!
Debit or Credit?
Once you become a student, you?ll hear this question almost every time you go to pay for something. If you don?t know the difference between debit and credit, learn fast. A debit card (sometimes also called a check card) is basically cash, not credit. Any time you use a debit card money is withdrawn right out of your checking out. When you pay for an item, your checking account balance goes down. Be sure to keep track of what you spend. Even though you might have $100 in the account today, you might have written a check for $50 yesterday that hasn?t posted yet. If you spend $60 with your debit card, your check will bounce when it makes it back to the bank. This can lead to all kinds of fees and penalties.
When should you turn a credit card offer down, and when should you accept?
For the new college student, it can be relatively easy to get a card. It will seem people are everywhere with offers. You will get offers in your mail box, and see VISA, MasterCard and Discover card tables at many school events. The solicitors at these tables will not only ask you to fill out quick and easy credit card applications, but they will also offer you free gifts and incentives just for doing so. The gifts are often yours to keep, even if you choose not to accept their credit card.
some credit cards also have annual fees, which can run as high as $75-$100. Fortunately, the majority of credit card offers for students have an annual fee of $0. Think of it as membership fee, which is tacked onto your balance once a year just for having the credit card. You are expected to pay this fee, and it will collect interest as part of your balance owed. However, if you pay your balance owed by the due date, you will not have to pay any interest
I?'m trying to find a credit card where I can co-sign for a friend. She has a permanent job, but no credit history.
Any credit card that allows for a cosigner is a card your friend can consider applying for. When an application asks for a cosigner, it does not limit whether or not that cosigner is a friend. Both you and your friend need to remember that if you do cosign an account for her, both of you will then be responsible for keeping the account current. This means that if she stops paying, you will be expected to pay. However, if the account goes into default or accrues penalties for any reason, it will be recorded on both of your credit histories. Cosigning for your friend should be taken seriously and carefully thought through. You must be sure that you can afford to pay on the account if your friend does not. Since you will not have any control over how much she spends, you need to be prepared for the largest sum possible. In addition, any late fees or other penalties your friend accrues on the account will have to be paid by you once the creditor asks you to pay on the account. The cosigner rarely gets any kind of monthly statements, so you may not know there is a negative situation with the account until a creditor contacts you. You can sometimes get the lender to agree, in writing, to notify you if your friend begins to miss payments. This can notify you early if there is a problem. In each state, cosigners do have rights, so find out what your rights are as a cosigner before signing on the dotted line. You may be able to negotiate the terms of your liability on an account with the lender before cosigning. Explore this option ahead of time. Lastly, keep copies of all paperwork you sign in case these papers are needed in the future.
Credit Protection Overseas
The Fair Credit Billing Act does apply to overseas purchases, which is one reason why you may choose to pay by credit card instead of cash or check. To dispute a charge under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you must write to your credit card issuer within sixty days of the postmark date of the bill on which the charge appeared. Complete instructions for disputing a charge are usually listed on your credit card bill.
Many credit cards allow cash advances When you get a cash advance off your credit card, you either use your card to get cash from your bank teller or ATM machine, or you use one of the paper checks that came with your credit card. A cash advance can help you when you are short on cash and desperately need it, but it can also cost you much more than a regular charge on your credit card. There is usually an initial fee just for getting a cash advance and a higher interest rate on the cash amount borrowed. These fees add to your balance owed and can make your balance grow more each month than you anticipate. For these reasons, you should limit cash advances to emergency situations.
Correcting Billing Errors
Federal law provides specific rules that the card issuer must follow for promptly correcting billing errors. The card issuer will give you a statement describing these rules when you open the credit card account and, after that, at least once a year. In fact, many card issuers print a summary of your rights on each bill they send you.
I wanted to get a credit card but I do not have any credit history. Are there other ways to build a credit history?
to someone seeking credit for the first time, it may seem like a vicious circle: You cant get credit without a credit history, and you cant establish a credit history without credit! Frustrating, isnt it? Interestingly, some institutions only look only at your salary, job and the other financial information that you put on the application to determine if you qualify for their card. However most will be interested in your track record -- How have you handled other debts -- and will ask to see your credit report. To get the story on you, institutions will turn to information provided by credit-reporting agencies or credit bureaus like Equifax that collect, store and quantify information about borrowers. The records show your credit history -- how much credit youve received and how faithfully youve repaid. Fortunately, even if youve never had a Mastercard, American Express, Visa, Discover, or other major credit card, you can still build a good credit history: ? Open a checking account or savings account or both. Although not part of your credit history, your accounts may be checked by potential lenders as evidence that you have money and know how to manage it. ? Cancelled checks can be used to show that you pay utilities or rent bills regularly, a sign of reliability. ? Apply for a department store credit card. Stores dont ask for credit histories as often as major credit card institutions, so you should be able to get a card based on your annual salary. Then, repaying your store bills on time becomes a major "positive" in your credit history. ? Look for a financial institution that will allow you to deposit funds to serve as collateral for a credit card. Some institutions issue a credit card with a credit limit equal to the amount on deposit. These cards are relatively easy to obtain and as with your department store card, paying these bills on time will enhance your credit history. ? If you dont have a credit history because you?re new in town, request a summary of any credit record kept by a credit bureau in your former town. Dont know whom to contact? Ask the bank or department store in your former town for the name of the agency it reports to. You may already have a great credit history and not realize it. If you do, its time to "comparison shop" the credit card companies and find out who has the best deal to offer you.
What is the difference between an additional card and co-signer card?
An additional card is a card you get on your personal credit account with another person?s name on it. This means that the person now has access to your credit account as if it is their own account and can charge as much as they want without your permission beforehand. In addition, this person is not held accountable by your creditor for making any payment on the account. This responsibility falls on you, the account holder. As a result, no matter how much this person charges on your card, you have to pay for it?even if the person promises to pay you back and doesn?t. A cosigner card is a credit card someone applies for and gets a cosigner to sign on. Essentially, it is the applicant?s credit account, but if they stop making payments, the cosigner is then responsible for the account. The history of the account goes on both person?s credit reports. The cosigner will have to make special arrangements with the creditor before cosigning to get monthly statements on the account or reports of late payments. Otherwise, the cosigner will not have access to the account information. If you do cosign on an account, remember that you assume equal liability.