Having Your Parents Cosign for Your Student Credit Card
By: Larry Goldberg
Part of college is about leaving home, establishing your independence, and getting away from your parents. Don’t be so quick to burn all of your bridges, though, because you may actually need your parents to cosign on that new student credit card application you just got in the mail.
Millions of new college students are targeted by credit card companies each year. In fact, during freshman orientation, you’re likely to receive at least ten credit card applications in the mail, and choosing a credit card is likely to be one of the first things you do when you finally hit the campus. There’s a good reason for that, too. Our society revolves around the use of plastic. Whether you’re just trying to download some new MP3s, you need to pay for your books online, or you’d like to send your mom some flowers, you need a credit card. Moreover, if you get stuck on the drive home over Christmas break, you may need that plastic to pay for the tow truck, the repair shop, and the associated motel room. A student credit card is just one of those things you’re probably going to need.
The real catch with student credit cards, though, is that most first time college students don’t have a credit history to speak of. That means card companies are more reluctant to offer you the kind of credit limit you may need to get going. The fast solution? Have your parents co-sign for your credit card. Cosigning is the process of one person guaranteeing that another pays his or her bills. In this case, your parents would be promising the credit card company that they would pay off your account should you ever find yourself unable to. The benefit of having a cosigner is, of course, getting the level of credit you need to establish a good credit history. The drawback of having a cosigner is that should you ever find yourself in a bit of a financial hard spot, you’ll not only have the credit card company to deal with, you’ll have your parents to deal with too.
If you do want to have your parents cosign for your first student credit card, start by doing your homework. Research the best student credit cards and options for you. Choose one with a low interest rate, and make sure that you set up a payment plan for any regular expenses you’ll be taking care of with the credit card. And, hey, grabbing a campus job to pay for the credit card couldn’t hurt in the process to convincing them. Keep in mind, though, that your parents may offer some other good alternatives. Prepaid student credit cards usually don’t require a cosigner, and they work just as well as a traditional credit card does. Debit cards are also a great idea, and they work much like a prepaid student credit card.
Having your parents cosign for that first student credit card is a great idea, but be sure to talk every aspect of the agreement over with them before any of you sign on the dotted line.
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