Taking the Plunge: It’s a good time to get that Credit Card

Christine Colleran

Money burns a hole in my pocket. And, seeing as it would be irresponsible to be so careless with money (letting it fall through the burnt hole and such), I usually think it appropriate to spend my money whenever possible. Unfortunately, that line of thought needs to change- because it’s time to get a credit card.

I have been fighting the good fight against becoming a “real person” for a while now, but the fact of the matter is that I have no credit score. With graduation looming in the not-so-distant future, it is time to turn in that trusty debit for a sexier model- credit.

It’s an upgrade you should think about making, whether you are a freshman or a fifth year senior on that victory lap.

Why do you need a credit card? Well, these days everyone and their brother, grandpa, and sister-wife need to see your credit score before you can do “real people” things without parents or guardians co-signing for you.

Our credit score tells people if they should trust us and if we are financially responsible (yikes). It can affect how much you pay for insurance, or what interest rate you get on a loan. Need a used car or a cell phone? A good credit score will make those purchases easier. My lack of credit score meant I couldn’t set up my cable bill this year without paying a $100 deposit first.

Even future employers can run a credit check if they so desire; which, if nothing else, should light a credit fire under your butt.

Important as it is for me to start building credit, making that upgrade is terrifying. Most of that terror stems from my admitted lack of self-control when it comes to spending (yes, I do need Dairy Queen almost every night). With debit cards, it is hard to really exceed your financial means, but with credit cards- it seems the sky is your limit.

However, there are a few ways to make credit a little less scary. First, find a student card if you can. Banks often offer low, sometimes 0%, interest rates for students and set limits on your card so that you can’t go buy that industrial deep fryer on a whim. Second, attempt to make thoughtful purchases on your credit card with the knowledge that you will be able to pay them off as soon as you get the bill. Avoid paying only the minimum if you can. Paying only minimums is linked to a slippery slope of overspending and debt.

In such a social and accessible world, it is getting more and more difficult to make it through without following certain social norms. Getting a credit card and developing a credit score is just one of those things. Building credit is something to think about, especially while we are at school and can get student cards. Just remember, no matter how good deep fried Oreos may sound, there are some things not worth going into debt over.

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