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Life Stages

12 Steps for Students to Use Credit Cards Wisely

Establishing good credit habits is essential in understanding how to manage personal and business finances.

College students use credit cards for everything from books and food to tuition and supplies. Research shows that 74 % of college students use credit cards for school supplies, 71 % for textbooks and for food, and 24 % for tuition.

Credit cards are a convenience and must be used properly. Consider the following 12 tips for using credit cards wisely:

  1. Set up and follow a budget that includes paying off a credit card balance. “Maxing out” or charging up to your card’s credit limit can make sticking to your budget more difficult.
  2. Cash advances – unlike purchases – generally have finance charges and fees that apply immediately.
  3. Pay on time, every month.
  4. Keep records of your account number, expiration date, and the phone number of your card issuer in a safe place so you contact the issuer quickly if your card is ever lost or stolen.
  5. Keep your account information confidential.
  6. Never give out your credit card information, including account number, expiration date or CVV/CVC over the phone, unless you initiated the call and know who you’re dealing with.
  7. Elect to receive your statement information online and consider making your credit card payment online to ensure it is received by the monthly due date. Many bank Web sites offer account alerts for unusual transactions and reminders of when your bill is due.
  8. Routinely access your account information online to track your spending and stay within your budget. If you see a transaction that is not yours or if there’s an error on your account, notify your card issuer immediately. Look for complete instructions on your monthly statement and follow them carefully to protect your rights.
  9. Keep a copy of your sales receipts so you can compare what you bought with the charges on your statement.
  10. When making online transactions, be sure the Web site is secure. Don’t let others see you enter card information and avoid using public access PCs for online purchases.
  11. Don’t lend your credit card to anyone, not even a friend. Ever.
  12. If you move, notify your card issuer immediately.
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