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Applying For Your First Credit Card: What Every Student Should Know

By: Larry Goldberg

Headed to college? Thinking about a student credit card as a symbol of your independence? Before you fill out that credit card application, there are certainly some things you want to keep in mind. 


The first step in applying for the student credit card to fit your needs is to choose the right card, of course. There are lots of different kinds of credit cards out there, and choosing the right one is essential to meeting your needs. Take a look at some of the different cards you’ll be asked to choose from:

  • Prepaid Cards
  • Secured Credit Cards
  • Rewards Credit Cards
  • Airline Miles Credit Cards
  • Cash Back Credit Cards
  • Savings Account Credit Cards
  • Zero Percent APR Credit Cards
  • Balance Transfer Credit Cards

It’s best to find out a little about each before you make your selection. For example, why choose an airline miles rewards card if you never fly? Make your choice wisely so the student credit card company you choose is the right one for you. 


Once you’ve decided on a card that’s right for you, the next task is to carefully read the fine print in the application. While this can be an undertaking of monumental proportions, do not depend on the card company to just “highlight” the information for you. At the very least, you need to understand what your APR is for balance transfers, cash advances, and normal purchase, and you need to understand how it is computed, and how it will be added to your balance. You also need to be aware of any special fees surrounding late payments, cash advances, and credit card checks. Moreover, make sure that you understand whether or not the company you’ve chosen has a grace period, and how that can affect you. Also, understand whether or not the card you’ll be carrying comes with any type of annual fee, as those can be a bit of a surprise each year if you’re not prepared. 


The last step in this process is to actually apply for the card itself. If you hate waiting, look for a card that comes with an instant online approval. This means you’ll just have a few days until your card arrives, and by the time you log off the computer, you’ll know if you have an account, and what your credit limit is. Should you choose to apply online for a student credit card, be sure that you’re using a secured interent connection. If you must apply in one of the campus computer labs, be sure to clear your temporary internet files and your cookies when you’re done so others can’t access that information after you’ve logged off. 

While you’re filling out the actual application, be sure that you’re honest with the company. Should they find out that you don’t make a hundred grand a year or that you’re not actually a brain surgeon, it could have serious repercussions.  

Applying for your first student credit card is a huge step to financial freedom. Following these steps may help in taking that first step.


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