Should Students Have a Credit Card?

When I first became a student, I really struggled with whether or not I wanted to get a credit card, or whether any student should have a credit card.

Having a credit card is a big responsibility, and for students perhaps even more so, because they are still learning the ropes financially.

Credit cards for students can be very dangerous. Money, through the use of credit cards, can be wasted on things like pizza and beer, instead of used responsibly, which would, of course, be unfortunate.

Credit Cards Build up Credit for Students

I think a credit card can be a powerful tool to better your financial position. There is no doubt that credit cards help the user build up credit. Since you are a student, there is likely not much of an opportunity for you to build credit as you go through school.

Having a credit card, if you use it responsibly and pay it off after each purchase or at the end of the month, can help students build up credit and start graduated life on the right foot.

Easier to Get into Debt

If you are anything like me, you are trying to graduate with either no debt or as little debt as possible.

Credit cards make it easier to get into debt, unfortunately. The debt on credit cards is high interest, so whether or not students should get a credit card depends on whether or not they can be responsible with that card.

You don’t want to graduate with student loans and credit card debt. Drowning financially is not a good way to start your life after you graduate.

 Free Stuff With Rewards

My favorite part about having a credit card is the ability to get free stuff through rewards. I’ve blogged about cash back credit cards before,  but there are also travel reward cards and other great rewards that you can get through using a credit card.

As a student there isn’t much extra money at the end of each month to put toward things like travel or generally enjoying yourself so sometimes the rewards that students can get from credit cards are really helpful. I have financed some vacations through my credit cards, and therefore they ended up being completely and utterly free, which was a great feeling. Though it does make you feel like you are cheating the system a bit!

The Verdict

You may just be looking for a “yes or no” answer to the question of whether or not students should get a credit card, but the thing is, I can’t answer that for you.

If you are financially responsible and will pay off your balance each month, then generally yes, these types of students should have a credit card.

If you are at all concerned about your ability to pay back your card or avoid going into debt with your card, then no, you shouldn’t get a credit card as a student.

I know that’s a wishy washy answer, but that is why personal finance is called “Personal finance” instead of “impersonal finance” – there are no blanket rules that will work for absolutely everybody.


Should Students Have a Credit Card? — 17 Comments

  1. As a general rule I’d lean towards no, just because the chances of harm is greater than benefit. We have and use credit cards (no longer students) but have caught ourselves spending more at times even though we have always paid in full before the bill is due.

  2. I agree, Stu – there’s no blanket answer for everyone. It is important though to make sure you can handle a credit card wisely before making the leap. If you think you’ll be tempted to let spending get out of control, though, I’d think carefully. Great post!

  3. For me, there is so much danger in allowing the use of credit cards for students. I mean if working adults still can fall into credit card debt traps, what more with students who, I believe, in general, still lack the experience?

  4. For me, if they are in college, they should be responsible enough to be able to handle credit cards (not that I was). If they are high school- no.

    I got my first card when I graduated high school because I was going to Europe for two months. It had a low balance and my dad paid the balance as a graduation/birthday/christmas gift for me. I wouldn’t been able to handle it on my own though!

  5. Even if you are not that financially responsible, it still might be a good idea. Maxing out a credit card sucks, but if you are on a $500 limit, you can still learn the tough lessons without running up huge debt. Plus, you might surprise yourself and get in some good habits.

  6. I think students should have A card. There’s only so much damage you can do on one card with the credit limits a student can get. I think most people get into trouble when they start signing up for multiple cards to get the free t-shirts and other things they entice you with on campus.

  7. I have had a credit card since I was 18. The college years were the worst for it, though, because I ran up huge CC debt during that time.
    Fortunately, I paid it off and never looked back. I don’t think they had many CC rewards back then. If they did, I would’ve taken advantage of them!

  8. Pingback: 5 Things You Shouldn’t Do with Money in College | Poor Student

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