Managing a credit card in college

College is a great time for many people. Unfortunately, it is also a time when a lot of people build up a huge amount of debt which they struggle to get out of. People are managing their own finances for the first time and credit is made available to them, often in larger amounts than it probably should be. It is, of course, possible to get through college without too much debt. You can even do that and have a good time. Here are seven tips for college students to keep their credit card debt under control.

Talk to your parents. I know that that is the last thing a college student wants to do. Your parents have used a credit card for years, though. They will know what to do and what to avoid. Let them help you with a budget. Benefit from their expertise.

Don’t fall for the prizes. Credit card companies will offer your t-shirts, radios and all sorts of other gifts just for signing up. Don’t fall for it. If you have the card you will be tempted to use it. That is where you will get in trouble.

Shop around. Don’t take the first card that you are offered. Look around for the best rate, the best terms and the fairest fees and penalties.

Understand your card’s rules. Read the fine print on your card agreement before you get into trouble. They may have rules which, if you break them, cause your rates to go up or cause you to incur fees. Know what might happen so that you can avoid it.

Set rules for yourself. Before you start using your card, decide what you will use it for and what is not appropriate. Stick to your rules.

Read your statement. Mistakes can happen. As soon as you get the statement in the mail, look over it to see if you actually made the purchases that you are being charged for, that your balance is accurate and that you understand any fees you have been charged.

Make more than the minimum payment. It is tempting to run up a bill now and then pay it off when you have a job. Don’t fall into that trap. You never know what might happen. By building up a balance you are limiting your options and creating pressure for yourself when you graduate. The interest will add up. It just isn’t worth it.