5 Reasons You May Want to Open a Credit Card in College

For many, college is usually a time of limited funds, so getting a credit card can help when you're short of cash. However, building a good credit profile that can help you later in life and learning how to manage credit should be the most important reasons to get a credit card while in college. Schools offering Finance degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Advantages of Getting a Credit Card While in College

Books to buy, supplies to get and hardly a cent to spare! With all this spending and lack of money going on, it might seem counter-intuitive to get yourself a credit card and risk getting into debt. So then what possible reason is there to get yourself a credit card? In fact, there are a number of reasons, and college is actually the perfect time to explore those reasons. A few of them just might surprise you.

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Build a Credit Score

You may not have learned this yet, but it's hard to buy anything big without someone checking your credit score. Where does this credit score come from? It comes from what you spend, how much credit you have available to you, when you make payments, how much debt you have left over and several other factors.

One way to get control of this score is to get a credit card. It will allow you to spend money and then pay it off, which you should always do right away. Doing this regularly, even with small purchases, will build you a history of being responsible paying off your debts. This translates to you having a good credit score. You might think that not spending at all gets you good credit, but it actually just means you have no history at all. Building a history now before you enter life after college means that you'll be more able to buy cars or rent apartments when the time comes.

Keep Track of Your Spending

Some credit card companies offer a spending analyzer tool that lets you track your spending. Mint.com also allows you to track your spending across multiple accounts if needed. Did you put too much money into late night pizza orders this month, or did you drop a few extra bucks on designer jeans that you really didn't need? You'll be able to track when and on what you spend money and use that knowledge to curb your buying habits. You can even set up a budget plan with fixed amounts and compare it against your spending report. Either way, tracking your spending will get you into good financial habits for later on in life.

For Emergencies

It never hurts to have extra money around for emergencies. Even though you don't have money in your checking account, a credit card still enables you to spend. That might not sound like a good thing because it works you into debt pretty quickly. But in a really bad scenario where you need to get a hotel room, book a plane ticket, pay some medical bills or even bail a friend out of jail, a little debt is an acceptable trade off. Even if you get a credit card and never use it for regular spending, it can still be a sort of financial safety net.


Most credit cards come with some sort of reward benefits attached. This can be anything from discounts on gas or groceries to airline miles or prizes for how many rewards points you earn with spending. Even if the rewards from points early on aren't very good, getting a credit card now while you're in college will allow you to save up those points over time until you have enough to get something really good. Banks also sometimes offer an initial reward or gift to a person when they sign up for a credit card. Look around to see who's offering the best reward for signing up when picking out a credit card company. You might even find a rewards plan that caters to your individual interests.

Learning Responsibility

College is all about learning and much of it doesn't happen in the classroom. What better time to learn about managing your own finances? Finding out about how to manage spending, your credit score and rewards points or emergency funds are valuable lessons you will probably need later in life. You will also have to learn restraint in your spending and get into the habit of paying off your credit card bills regularly. This will train you for making regular car or rent payments later on. You'll also have to keep track of the card itself and make sure that it doesn't get lost or stolen. In short, getting a credit card teaches you how to spend and pay bills like an adult, and learning to be an adult now before you really have to be is something every college student should strive for.

Trying to get some money to pay off that credit card bill? Learn how to make money without getting a job!

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