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How to Choose the Right College Credit Card for You

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Author: Richard Keir

Credit cards are a huge industry. Everybody who can get one or two or 10, uses them because they are a great convenience. But there are so many credit cards being offered to students these days that it might seem nearly impossible to choose the right college credit card for you. But it is very important to investigate and to choose carefully to make sure you end up with the best deal you can find.

It's also important not to go overboard and get a half dozen cards or more. It is very easy to get yourself into serious financial trouble before you realize it. It is so easy to use the cards when you want something - but then the bills start coming and getting bigger and bigger.

The interest rate that a college credit card charges is a critical factor in your considerations. Let's face it, when you make a purchase on a college credit card you are actually borrowing money from the credit card issuer. They will want it back - with interest. So you must pay a monthly interest rate on this loan unless you pay your balance off in full every month.

Naturally, the best option is to pay off the credit card every month, but sometimes that just isn't going to happen, so you want to get a college credit card with the lowest annual percentage rate and the longest 0% interest introductory period. The majority of college credit cards will be very similar in these two regards so the next point to consider is what kind of rewards you receive for using the credit card.

For many students, college credit cards are the first 'real' credit cards that they have gotten and they may not know what types of reward would be the best to look for. Generally, the three main reward types that will be most valuable for students are:

* Cash Back

* Frequent flyer miles

* Free gas

Cash back on a college credit card is actually a kind of points system. As you spend money these points accumulate on your college credit card account. Then they can be exchanged for cash, gift certificates or special discounts at popular outlets and stores. While the amount of 'cash back' that you get as a college credit card reward might seem small, remember that every little bit helps and you will soon be racking it up.

If you have cash available to pay for items like books and other necessities, you can use your card instead and then pay off the bill as soon as it comes. This does two important things for you. First, it helps build your credit history in a very positive way. Second, it accelerates your rewards. BUT, you must pay it off, don't spend that cash on something else and end up paying interest. You have to keep your finances under strict control.

Frequent flyer miles could be the best rewards to have with a college credit card if you attend a college a long distance from your home. As you use your college credit card you accumulate frequent flyer miles that you can later exchange for flights back home - or wherever you want to go. Unlike the airline reward schemes, normally credit card frequent flyer miles can be used on any participating airline, worldwide.

Free gas when you use your college credit card could be your best option if you have your own car. Gas prices keep getting higher and some college credit cards offer rewards that can help with the rising costs of operating a car by providing rebates for gas station purchases. These free gas college credit cards may also offer discounts and points towards other motoring related items so it can be well worth your time to compare the different programs available.

With careful research, a little good sense, and careful attention to your finances, your college credit card can definitely help make your college years easier and give you a great head start on an excellent credit rating.

Copyright 2005 Richard Keir

About the author

Richard Keir

As a writer and educator, both online and offline, Richard strongly supports the value of quality education, whether online or off. Learn more about college programs, online education and college finances at

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