MASON CITY, IA – The new school year is just around the corner and for some schools, it has already arrived.
College students around the country will heading to their college campuses being welcomed back to school with orientations, events and familiar fliers promoting credit cards around their campus and in their mailboxes.
Credit card promotions are being mailed out across the country and Financial Aid Director at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC), Mary Bloomingdale says that students are among the easiest targets for these types of offers.
“I would say most of our students here get some kind of mail solicitation or maybe even your bank or a lending institution will send out opportunities for young students to get credit cards,” Bloomingdale said.
Students can be pulled into the credit world without a concrete understanding of how to use a credit card, which can be harmful to their credit score later down the road.
“It’s kind of a catch 22,” Bloomingdale said. ”If you don’t do anything, then when you get out of school, you might wind up in a mess, however, if you do do it, and abuse it, again that’s a worse problem for you so it’s a great time for parents to sit down with their students and educate them.”
Experts in the field say that education is the key to understanding how to properly use credit cards and Kathye Gaines, Branch Manager from Consumer Credit Counseling is trained to help people learn how to use their cards.
“Don’t just go ahead and sign up because it came to you,” Gaines said. “They automatically know that you can afford to pay for it? They really don’t know it. Your name comes up on a list and the paperwork goes out.”
She also said that something that might look appealing on paper but could be harmful to you in the long run when it comes to your credit score.
“You want look at, what are you actually going be able to pay? So don’t be pushed into, well it sounds good. The old adage of if it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” Gaines said.
Different companies offer different options for opening a credit card so understanding all of the expectations and limitations that come with that responsibility will help you in the long run.