SCOTTSDALE, AZ--(Marketwire -08/24/11)- A May 2011 Consumer Reports survey shows 2011 college graduates had a rate of debt that is 47 percent higher than their counterparts a decade ago and up 8 percent from 2010.
Recent changes in credit card laws prevent companies from giving students T-shirts or pizza as an enticement to apply for credit. "Despite the changes implemented by new laws, it's still pretty easy for a college student to get a credit card," says Kristy Welsh, editor of CreditInfocenter.com. "According to a 2009 Sallie Mae study, 5 percent of students chose their first credit card from a vendor on campus; 38 percent said they chose their credit card from a mail offer; 19 percent got a referral from a parent."
Here are some things college freshmen should keep in mind when applying for credit:
1. Know what you're getting. Yes, this means reading all the fine print on the credit card application, either printed or online. Are you offered a low introductory rate for 6 months and then a sky-high interest rate after that? Don't set yourself up for a nasty surprise.
2. Only apply for the amount of credit you need. Don't apply for a credit card just because you can or worse, for emergencies. Studies show that once in your possession, the temptation to use a card can be overwhelming and you'll be in debt before you know it.
3. Pay your card off every month. Sounds like common sense, doesn't it? "Part of the trick of paying off your bills every month is not overusing the card in the first place," says Welsh.
4. Be afraid of credit cards bearing your school name. Many of these aren't issued by the big banks that back most credit cards. Finding information about them online can be difficult.
CreditInfocenter.com is a one-stop destination for consumers looking for free advice and tips on how to repair and rebuild bad credit and maintain good credit. CreditInfocenter.com founder Kristy Welsh is also the author of Good Credit Is Sexy, a tongue-in-cheek guide to managing your finances.
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