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Be Smart About Campus Credit Card Solicitors

Next time someone offers you a free T-shirt on campus, say no thanks and buy one at the bookstore. In the end, the bookstore T-shirt will cost less. That's because the free T-shirt comes with a credit card bearing high interest rates and hefty annual fees.

Credit cards can help you build a positive credit history while providing security in emergencies and enhanced personal responsibility and independence. But experts say it's best to avoid credit card solicitors on campus.

Students who sign up for credit cards at campus tables typically carry higher unpaid balances than those who do not. To meet your cardholder agreement, you'll need to make a minimum monthly payment. But by paying only the minimum each month your debt will continue to grow.

Experts caution students that a $1,000 or $2,000 credit limit doesn't mean they can afford to carry that balance. According to a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Student Financing Survey, many students are turning to credit cards to pay for educational expenses.

These tips will help you avoid credit card trouble:

  • Look for a card with low interest rates or finance charges and low or no annual fees
  • Recognize that a credit limit of $1,000 is plenty for most students.
  • Use the card only for emergencies. If you can eat it, drink it, or wear it, it's not an emergency.
  • Be careful of carrying balances. Some credit cards charge 18% or more in interest

If you find yourself in trouble, don't panic. These tips will help you get out of debt:

  • Reduce your expenses for recreational activities.
  • Check with your credit card issuer to see if it can work out a repayment schedule with you.
  • Create a realistic budget to ensure you get out and stay out of debt.

The average college student will graduate with more than $12,000 in debt

And remember, we're here to provide the services and support you need, as you get started and as you move through your life.