GREENSBORO, NC -- Stories about tight budgets and debt are everywhere and yet financial experts say college students SHOULD have credit cards. No, not so they can run up big bills. But so they can prepare themselves for life! The general manager of banking and finances for Nerd Wallet Jelena Ewart talked with 2WTK by Skype.
"Very few students think about getting a card at 18 and that's a mistake because the longer you have your accounts and the older accounts you have the better your credit score later on in life."
Ewart went on to explain while the student doesn't necessarily need credit now, they will in a few years when they need an auto loan or a mortgage. All too often, students graduate with a degree but no credit history to help them with the next life step.
Most 18-year-olds can't get a card on their own so there are usually two options. First, mom or dad, you can make the student an authorized user and set a limit of what they can spend. Or second, you will need to co-sign on the student's card. And yes, that does make you liable for their spending
Nerd Wallet researched the credit cards out there and came up with a list of their top three for students. Some of the cards reward you or give cash back for how much you spend, others rewards the student only when they pay off the balance in full.
"Some of them really try you to get used to using rewards and that really works for people who never ever carry debt. But remember, rewards are never worth the debt.."
The Discover card gives cash back and has a no penalty interest rate and waives the first late payment fee. That sounds really good. Maybe too good.
"I don't think students should be lulled into thinking they can sweet talk their way out of every fine and every fee. When they start incurring those late fees no amount of sweet talking will help them. So, I think it's actually better NOT to rely on features like that.as the parent."
The Journey card gives you cash back on everything and if you are responsible gives you an extra 25% more on top of that . "So you start off a little bit lower and you build it up. It doesn't give you 0% APR from the beginning so it doesn't coddle you, it has a high APR but the slap on the wrist really hurts. I think it's a really great option for parents who are a little on the stricter side."
Ewart adds you need to recognize what kind of spender your child might be o you can help them choose the right credit card to help them build credit. not debt.