Agency: Credit Counselling Service of Sault Ste. Marie & District
Topic: Students and Credit Cards
Credit: A Powerful Tool
With summer (and graduation) just around the corner, you have probably received your first (of many) credit card applications. YAHOO!!! Before you go wild and max out your limit, take a moment to plan. The credit decisions you make now will have a lasting impact on your credit rating in the future.
Credit Education - The Key to Your Financial Future
We all live in a world that is pretty overwhelming, especially when it comes to personal finances. Fact is, it costs a lot of money to cover even basic living expenses: rent or mortgage, car payments, insurance, food and student loans. Sometimes, the size of these bills or your debts is bigger than expected. Learning how to manage money is a necessary step in preparing for life after graduation, whether you will be continuing your education or entering the work force. Building and maintaining a good credit record is part of securing a sound financial future.
Your Credit Rating
Your credit rating is based on the facts of how you have handled your debt obligation, including any judgements, garnishment, bankruptcies or unpaid loans. Most information regarding your credit history remains on your file for seven years. It will show, even if you are a couple of months late with a payment; so, it is important settle your obligations to your creditors. However, positive information is also recorded on your credit file. Making payments on time and having no late payments, judgements or bankruptcies on your file can help you with future credit, accommodations or employment applications.
Be credit wise.
You will find that credit offers vary widely. Each offer of credit includes different features and payment plans. Be sure to study these different options and choose the one that is right for you. Creating a budget helps you keep within limits, make tough choices and helps you say no. Turn what you can't afford today into a goal for what you can afford in the future.
When you finally decide which option is right for you, here are a few tips to help lower your credit card costs:
pay the full balance each month -- Paying the entire balance each month will cost you nothing in interest. Paying the minimum prolongs the time it will take you to pay off your balance and will cost you a lot in interest. If you owe $2,000 on a retail card with a 28.8% interest rate and you only make the minimum monthly payment of 4% it will take you 14 years to pay off your debt and you will pay back $4,700! And that is only if you never make another purchase on the card.
choose a card with a low interest rate -- If you owe $1,000 on your 18% credit card, it will cost you more than $180 in interest over the year. If you switch to a lower rate card, you will save money on interest owed.
use savings to pay credit card bills -- If you have $100 in a savings account at 3% interest, you will earn a little over $3.00 in one year. That $100, used to pay off $100 on an 18% card will save you $18…six times the interest you would have earned in the account.
Another choice is the use of debit cards versus credit cards. Misunderstanding about the difference between a credit card and a debit card can also cause problems for the uneducated consumer. Debit cards can offer many advantages to consumers over cash, credit and cheques; however, it is important to remember that when using your debit card, most banks charge transaction fees that can add up quickly. It’s is also important that you keep in mind that although no cash actually changes hands, debit cards mean you are paying now, so always be aware of your bank balance.
Seek professional help.
If you find that you are over your head, there is help close at hand. Credit Counselling Service of Sault Ste. Marie has been helping people with debt and money management problems for 30 years. We are a non-profit, charitable organization and member agency of the United Way. Our professional credit counsellors help clients find appropriate solutions to their financial difficulties and provide clients with budgeting, money management and education on the uses of consumer credit.
Remember, credit is a privilege that can enhance the quality of life. Proper money management is the responsibility of every Ontario consumer to be aware of his or her current economic situation and practice smart credit management. When used wisely, credit is a very valuable tool.
So now…go wild, with restraint!!!
"Helping you manage your debt"is a series of articles provided by member agencies of the Ontario Association of Credit Counseling Services. All agencies provide a range of no or low cost services to help people solve their financial problems and improve their consumer and money management skills. For more information contact Credit Counselling Services of Sault Ste. Marie & District, 298 Queen Street East, Suite 2, Sault Ste. Marie, ON, P6A 1Y7 or visit our website at www.soonet.ca/ccs.