College Credit Card Risks - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

College Credit Card Risks

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SALISBURY, Md. - Paper or plastic? Across the country, the cost of getting a college degree continues to rise for thousands of students, and many are turning to alternative ways to pay for extra cash.

"I use my credit card for all my school supplies and books," said Salisbury University student T.J. Schultz.

And when it comes to credit cards, college students are hitting some high scores. With tuition, expenses and the swag some creditors promise, the average senior will graduate with more than $4,000 in credit card debt.

"I think it's a big problem, I think it's a major problem," said SU Freshman Raven Green.

According to Credit.com, 91 percent of students have at least one card, and half of all students have four or more.

But do they really understand what they're signing up for?

"Many students are unsophisticated with respect to how to manage money," said Dr. Tylor Claggett, Associate Professor of Finance at SU.

"Student loans come in the form of a cash grant, and students may use the money for other purposes than paying for tuition and books. When it comes time to pay the
tuition or books, they use the credit cards because it's convenient."

He has offers tips on how to avoid a credit catastrophe.

"There are many credit cards on the market and I think it's important for students to shop around if they can but more importantly, read the fine print," Claggett said.

Because credit cards are borrowed money, experts say students should think ahead and have a plan for repaying it, and with smart phones attached to most college kids, apps can help manage bills, whether that's at the end of the month, or at the end of the transaction.

"You can transfer it from your account right over from your phone," Schultz said. "So it's pretty easy. I can do it right after I buy it. You should know that if you're swiping something you're going to have to pay for it."

Dr. Claggett reminds students to look for cards with low interest rates, and understand the repayment plans and penalties for accounts. And, when ever possible, pay the entire balance at the end of the month.

It's one lesson in finance that's best learned before the tassel is turned.
   

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