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Differentiating Between Credit Cards for College Students
Whether you are a college student or the parent of a college student, you may have started looking at various types of credit cards for college students. Having a credit card while in college is almost a necessity. Generally, college students do not have much money to spare since they are attending school. Therefore, they need to rely on their parent's financial support or they have to borrow money from a credit card while in school and then pay the borrowed money back later. To choose the right student credit card, however, it is important to understand the differences between different credit cards and the benefits and drawbacks to both.
Unsecured Student Credit Cards
Unsecured student credit cards are those that extend a line of credit to the cardholder. Therefore, you can spend money with the card as a loan and pay the money back later. Since college students tend to have very little credit history, it can be difficult to get a credit card. Obviously, most credit card companies prefer to extend a line of credit to someone with a proven history of paying back loans.
Fortunately, there are a number of credit cards that cater specifically to college students. These companies understand that a person attending college will not have a great deal of established credit history, yet need the help of a credit card to get through college. In addition, the fact that you are attending college gives the companies a reason to believe that you will be responsible about paying back your debt.
The greatest benefit to an unsecured student credit card is that you don't have to have money to use it. Therefore, college students that don't have the cash up front can take advantage of the borrowed money to by books, school supplies, and to help pay for living expenses. This can be a lifesaver to someone who is scraping by while in college. In addition, there are a number of unsecured student credit cards available that do not have annual fees or any other types of fees.
The biggest drawback to an unsecured student credit card is that it is possible to spend beyond your means and acquire a debt that you are unable to overcome. If this happens, or if you are unable to keep up with your payments, your credit can be destroyed. For someone who is working on just getting started in life as an adult, it is not good to get started with a major debt or a big black mark on your credit record. In addition, student credit cards tend to have a higher interest rate than traditional credit cards. Therefore, you may pay a great deal of money in finance charges when borrowing money in this way.
Secured Student Credit Cards
Secured student credit cards are cards that money is deposited onto ahead of time. In other words, if you don't put your own money on the card before spending the money, you can't use the card. Therefore, secured student credit cards are like a debit card. Secured student credit cards do not look any different from unsecured student credit cards.
The benefits of secured student credit cards are that you can still have the flexibility offered by carrying a credit card, but you don't have to worry about burying yourself in debt. For parents that are helping their college-age child through college, secured student credit cards are a great way to provide the student with an allowance to help pay for college expenses.
The major drawback to secured student credit cards is that these cards usually have a large number of fees. Often, there is a fee to set up the account in the first place. Then, there are usually annual fees and maybe even monthly fees. There are also fees associated with depositing, or "loading," money to the card. These fees can be quite expensive.
About the Author: For more information on how to differentiate between credit cards for college students, Kim Stevens recommends that you visit CreditCardAssist.com.