Student Service Center

Credit Cards

Applying for a Credit Card

  • Review your credit score to determine if you qualify for credit. The amount of credit you qualify for will affect the interest rate you will be charged.
  • Research to apply for the right card for YOU. Compare different cards, checking fees, and interest rates.
  • Apply. As a beginner, always look to apply for a card meant for a beginner. Avoid applying to several credit issuers. Each application will show up on your credit report, making it appear you are desperate for credit. This can have a negative impact on your credit score. Be CAUTIOUS of credit card offers that “guarantee” approval regardless of your credit history. They are usually scams that end up costing you!
  • Fees: Different type of fees can be charged. Annual fees are charged yearly for having the card. Application fees can be charged when you first apply. Cash advance and balance transfer fees are also possible.
  • Reporting: Make sure your credit card reports to all three major credit bureaus.

Maintaining Your Credit Card

Now you’ve got a card…..What do you do next?

  • Study all information provided with the card, including benefits and fraud protection, interest rates, fees, and your credit limit.
  • Get online access and sign up for alerts, which gives you a running balance, alerts you when payments are due, and warns you of any unusual transactions.
  • ALWAYS pay your balance in full. The minimum payment provided on statement is typically 2–3% of your total balance. If you pay just the minimum, you will deal with much greater interest payments, which may lead to more debt.
  • Set up an automatic payment system. Make sure you confirm that they go through each month.
  • Realize your card is not a toy. Its purpose should be limited to:
  1. Building Credit: making purchases and paying off the bill each month can help you establish credit
  2. Emergencies: situations where you need to make large purchases, such as car repairs
  3. Online Purchases: many companies or businesses do not accept another form of payment

Once you've made a few purchases (and paid your bill on time), you'll reap these benefits when you make future major purchases:

  • Qualify for lower rates on auto loans and mortgages after you graduate
  • Reduce your insurance premiums, since many insurers use credit score information to determine their prices
  • Many landlords check credit scores when renting out apartments