A Case for Credit Cards


Kimberly Wilson, Opinion Editor

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Applying for their first credit card is a decision young college students often have to make. Many argue the responsibility of owning a credit card may be too much for them. But in a society that places so much importance on one’s credit history, hitting that milestone ASAP is becoming increasingly necessary for young adults.

There are several ways to establish credit. Some include applying for a secured credit card or becoming an authorized user on someone else’s. But having your own will give you the opportunity to learn how to manage your finances. We all learn this lesson at some point, and college seems like an apt place for it. This is where you’re already engaged in learning new things and becoming independent.

College is also a time where many students start a new chapter of their lives. New ventures such as leasing an apartment or car, getting insurance or applying for a job are daunting enough. You don’t want the added pressure of not having a credit score to present if or when asked.

You need a credit history to do many of the aforementioned undertakings. Without it, they’ll be difficult or near impossible to do on your own. The sooner you start building credit, the better. Having a reasonably lengthy credit history is even more beneficial.

Having a credit card can also aid in cases of emergency. If you’re ever in a situation where you need to come up with a considerable amount of money quickly, a credit card could come in handy.

It’s important to talk about applying for a credit card with someone who has knowledge of how they work. We all know we must pay the money back at the end of every month. But navigating intricacies like interest rates and minimum payments have the potential to cause anyone grief. Seek out the advice of someone more experienced in dealing with these things. You don’t want too many surprises.

It’s also a good idea to look for a credit card that is student friendly when applying. Many places offer student cards with useful benefits such as no annual fees and cash back bonuses for keeping your grades up. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find one that offers what you’re looking for and fits well with your needs.

Having at least a steady part-time job is essential as well. You will need to pay the credit card off every month. You’ll need actual money to do that. You don’t want to be relying on your parents or anyone else to pay your bill. If that were the case, it wouldn’t really be your credit card. Not matching your spending to what you can afford will result in poor credit ratings that can stay with you for many years.

Managing a credit card is something you’re going to have to learn eventually. Start now. Just keep in mind, as Ashton Kutcher wisely imparted at the 2011 Teen Choice Awards, “Don’t ever charge anything on a credit card if you don’t already have the money in the bank to pay for it.” Words to live by, Kelso.