Just how much do you really know about life with a student credit card? If you think the average student credit card is used for nothing but textbooks, calculators and pens, you may want to think twice. What some students use their credit cards for might just surprise (and even shock) you. If you want to make sure a student credit card doesn’t lead to the demise of your student, you need to keep the following in mind…
1. Understand that Parents Need To be Teachers
We send our kids off to school for an education and many of us forget that a good portion of our children’s learning needs to start at home. Yes, the schools will teach our children the fundamentals of finance; but we, as parents, need to teach our kids the basics of responsible spending and proper use of a student credit card.
2. Know the Facts
Knowledge is power, and knowing the facts about student credit card use is like taking a set of blinders off. A student credit card study was conducted by a professor named Manning. What Manning discovered should be a wakeup call to parents everywhere.
Perhaps one of the most disheartening findings of Manning’s study is that three out of five students with a student credit card maxed out that card during their freshman year. This means that kids aren’t even halfway through school and they’re maxing out their plastic. Not a good start in the financial life of a soon-to-be adult.
Another upsetting fact that Manning’s study uncovered was that some students were using their student loans to pay their student credit card bills. I’m betting it wasn’t educational expenses that racked up that credit card debt in the first place.
Add the above issues to the fact that the average number of credit cards per student is 2.8, that almost half of college students carry a balance of $3,000 or more on their cards and that the drop out rate at colleges due to financial pressure is 8.5 percent (higher than the rate for academic failure), and the situation becomes even uglier.
3. Keep It In Perspective
So what can we do about all of this?
First, we have to understand that the student credit card is not the enemy. In fact, student credit cards are valuable tools that can help students build the credit history they’ll need to survive when they graduate.
That being said, we do have to teach our kids about responsible credit card spending. If our child gets a student credit card, we have to be sure they understand that it is not a ticket for a spending spree nor is it a way to finance a bar-hopping binge.
Student credit cards should not be banned, nor should they be avoided. A student credit card should, however, be used for emergencies only. Then, and only then, can we be sure that the card will do our students more good than harm.