By Sam Fleury ’10
Low interest rates, no fees and balance transfers are catch phrases that fill college students’ mail boxes every year.
Credit card companies will swamp new students with offers that sound too good to be true. According to United College Marketing Services the average college student gets 25 to 50 solicitations a semester.
Low introductory interest rates, bonus rewards and no need to carry cash, all sound like great reasons to get a credit card.
What students often don’t know is that these companies have these offers for a reason. Students are new to living on their own and a sense of fiscal independence is still underdeveloped. And a failure to pay on time will lead to hefty fees. The index credit cards Web Site, indexcreditcards.com, reports the average late fee to be more than $30.
“Consumer Reports Magazine” from last year reported 54 percent of students are paying off their balance each month, leaving a large slice of students racking up interest fees.
The offers that students see in the beginning are usually on a timer to be removed in a few months. Indexcreditcards.com reports an average credit card interest rate at more than 16 percent.
With that percentage expect $1.60 to be added to any bill of $10.
Some Creditors issue helpful tips for maintaining good credit. Experts at Visa suggest forming a realistic budget at the beginning of each month so that you can keep track of interest payments. Another suggestion is to know the minimum payment and always pay that or more each time.
There are an abundance of resources online.
Collegeboard.com, the same Web site for the SAT, has some tips and reminders for students going into college who might want to access credit.