Credit Card Responsibility and Keeping Yourself Out of Debt

Shannon Andrade |

January 31, 2012

As people transition from high school into college or jobs, many things start changing. Students will have to adapt to a new way of a life when freshman year begins. They will be faced with the new and challenging world of finance management. Credit card companies love to offer services to those who have just reached the age where they can legally obtain credit of their own. It is important to know how to manage credit card use and keep credit card debt in line with income. It can be difficult to get out of credit card debt once you are in it so avoiding it in the first place is important.

Getting a credit card is not hard however getting a credit card with good terms can be. For students, it can be especially difficult because they have not had a chance to build up any good credit with banks or other financial institutions. This can be harder to overcome than having bad credit. A credit card should not be used for purchases you couldn't otherwise make with cash or a debit card. A credit card was not designed to help you pay for something you cannot afford. If you are unable to pay for it with cash, you will not be able to pay the credit card bill that comes. If you only pay the minimum payment due on the credit card, you pay more interest on your balance and it will take longer to pay off. You should always pay as much as possible on your credit card.

It is very important to make wise decisions about what you actually put on your credit card. Is the purchase necessary? Make sure the credit card company knows if you will not be able to make your payment on time. If something unexpected comes up and the payment cannot be made, they may have a program that can keep your credit card open. It may also prevent the account from going to a collection agency. A large portion of your credit score is based on how much available credit you have. Always leave at least thirty percent of your credit card open. If you have been staying current with credit card payments and other things that impact credit, be sure to negotiate for a lower interest rate periodically. You want to be certain you are getting the best rate possible.

Many credit card companies offer services specifically for those new to establishing credit and students. These programs may benefit those who are unfamiliar with credit and how to use it wisely. They can offer tips on maximizing credit while staying within your means. The credit card companies want you to sign up with them and spend money. They also want you to pay that money back responsibly and continue to do business with them. You may have more than one credit card over time. It can be very expensive to get in over your head with credit card debt. You could pay high interest rates and penalty fees just to break even each month. You have to pay down your balances. If you choose to be smart from day one with your credit cards a bright financial future lies ahead.

To find out more about credit card responsibility, check out:

  • Financial Literacy for Students: A list of Do’s and Don’ts that help students understand the importance of knowing what credit is and how to use it before getting started.

  • Tips for Using Credit Cards Responsibly: A handy guide to using a credit card responsibly and understanding why it is important.

  • Use Your Credit Cards Wisely: A long list of tips to help those new to credit cards get started on the right foot.

  • Using Credit Wisely: Tips on how to track your information and your purchases when using credit.

  • Using Credit Cards Wisely (PDF): A great tool for learning more about credit cards, using them responsibly, and how it can be easy (and dangerous) to get in over your head.

  • Staying out of Debt: The University of Nebraska has created a page providing information on staying out of debt. 

  • Repay and Stay Out of Debt (PDF): When starting out on your own, it's important to have an understanding of how credit works.

  • Money Management: Learning how to spend and save money wisely is important. This page can help.

  • Understanding Debt: Learn what debt is and how to avoid it on this web page.

  • Staying On Good Terms (PPT): Knowing how to manage debt and pull out of debt is important to maintaining a good credit score.

  • Sinking the Ship: Take a look at these ten thought patterns or perspectives that can potentially cause a lot of financial problems.

  • How to Get Out of Debt (PDF): Document explaining how people get into debt, and provides helpful information on getting out of debt. 

  • Credit Cards: This page provides a selection of things to take note of before applying for credit.

  • What is a Credit Card (PDF): Discusses credit cards and how they work.

  • Choosing a Credit Card: When deciding to apply for a credit card, choose the card that has the best rates and always read the fine print.

  • Facts about Credit Cards: It is important to know your credit terms and how to protect your credit card numbers.

  • Credit Suggestions: Understanding credit terms, annual fees, and what to do if you ever notice a billing error are important when applying for and using a credit card.

  • Credit Cards and Loans: This page has a selection of frequently asked questions about credit, credit cards and loans.