Credit Cards

Credit is money available for a person to borrow.  Credit plays an important role in our lives. We may want to make future large purchases, such as a home or vehicle, and may not have the available cash.  In addition, renting an apartment, obtaining insurance or applying for a job may require your credit history to be pulled.  Without credit, it can make some basic things more difficult.  Credit cards are one way of building good credit, if used correctly.

What is a credit card?
A credit card is pre-approved credit which can be used to purchase items now and defer payment until later. The longer you carry a balance, the more you pay for the total price of the goods or services. The terms and conditions of the credit card affect your overall cost.

Should I have a credit card?
Credit cards can assist you with money management and can help you to establish a credit history.  Having a credit card can come in handy if you have an emergency. You can buy a necessary item you now and pay for it later.  But be very careful! Acquiring a large amount of credit card debt while you are in school can have huge consequences for the rest of your life.

What should I know before getting a credit card?
It is important to compare terms, fees, APR and total finance costs before you agree to open a credit or charge card account. Know there is a strong urge to spend more when it comes to using credit cards.  Be cautious of spending more than you can pay back by month's end.

Get Money Smarts can help you choose a credit card

What should I know before making a purchase on a credit card?
You should know exactly which items you need to purchase with a credit card, and plan in advance for  the  purchase. You should be aware of the interest rate your credit card company will charge you for the purchase.  You must always know the balance due on your credit card, your monthly payment and have a plan in your budget for paying your balance in full.

Try the Get Money Smarts Credit Card Calculator to see how long it takes to pay off your card balance.

What can happen if I make poor choice while using a credit card?
If a credit card is used improperly, it can cost you huge sums of money. Most college students are dumbfounded by how fast their balance becomes ridiculously large. Add in penalties and fees and soon, a large amount of debt has accumulated.  Credit card debt can lead to a poor credit rating, which can haunt you forever.  Imagine losing out on your dream job/home/car because you had poor credit due to poor choices with credit cards.

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