I’m a student, should I get a credit card?

Q: I’m a student, should I get a credit card?

Answer: If you’re a student and considering applying for a credit card, then there are a number of things you need to weigh up before signing up.

What are the advantages of student credit cards?

Aside from some of the exclusive discounts they come with, there a number of other reasons why adding a credit card to your wallet might be a good idea.

At this stage it’s likely that you haven’t yet built up a credit rating which can make it harder later on in life to get accepted for credit cards, loans or mortgages. This is because the bank has no evidence of whether you will be a reliable customer or not.

Getting a credit card and using it correctly while you’re at university could be a great way to build up a respectable credit history. This will give you a greater advantage when you graduate and seek out the more competitive cards on the market.

Another advantage of using a credit card is that you will have more protection on your purchases than you would with a debit card. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if something goes wrong, your credit card provider will be jointly liable, and you should be able to get your money back. Read more about this protection in our handy guide.

What to watch out for

The key to student credit cards, just like with any other credit card, is to wipe out the balance in full every month and not to exceed your credit limit. If you don’t, not only could you be hit with crippling interest rates, but you could also damage your credit rating which will make it harder to apply for credit in the future.

Fortunately, credit cards for students have a low credit limit (usually around £500) so that you can’t get into too much debt.

Another thing to bear in mind if this is your first credit card is to never use it to withdraw cash. If you do you’ll be hit with a withdrawal fee and you’ll also learn the hard way that there is a higher rate on withdrawals than purchases.

Alternatives

If you’re not sure if a credit card is right for you during your studies, there are other options available that might be a better fit. There are a range of current accounts specifically aimed at the needs of students.

Benefits such as interest free overdrafts, exclusive discounts, free gifts and dedicated student finance advisors might be what you’re after. If you want to learn more about student current accounts, then head over to our dedicated guide.

Read more…
Student credit cards – Read our guide on student credit cards to learn more
Student bank accounts – Struggling to choose a student bank account? Learn what to look out for here
Credit cards: the uSwitch guide – All you need to know about credit cards and how to make the most of them