Credit cards demand responsibility, students say

Some days the credit card offers seem to flood the mailbox. The envelopes offer various rates and rewards for using the card. What the offers don’t say, however, is how easy it is to quickly get into debt and how important it is to build good credit.Barbara Wood, assistant professor of professional practice, said she thinks it’s good for students to have a credit card for emergencies, but, before they get a credit card, they should also have the income to pay off what they charge.

“I think one is sufficient,” Wood said. “Particularly if you’re looking to build credit.”

Wood warned that with credit cards comes responsibility to avoid the temptation of running up the balance. She said she believes the credit card should be paid off each month.

“I believe you should never carry a balance on it,” Wood said.

By not paying off the balance every month, Wood said, it will only continue to grow from month to month.

“Distinguish between what you need and what you want,” Wood said.

Building good credit is important, Wood said, because it will not only be considered when buying cars and houses, but it will also be pulled up by future employers and insurance companies. Having bad credit also makes life more expensive, as credit card and loan rates go up.

Junior marketing and entrepreneurial management major Kyle Citrano said he got his first credit card on his own in January.

“I wanted to start establishing my own credit,” Citrano said.

Citrano said he knew it was important to have a good credit score because it will be with him for life.

Paola Solis, a freshman biology major, said she hasn’t thought very much about building up credit but knows it will be important as she starts looking to buy a new car.

Good credit can be built not just by paying credit card bills on time but also by paying rent and utility bills promptly.

Though it may take a while, Wood said, it is possible to start making a bad credit history better.

“If you have multiple credit cards, start paying off the smallest balances first,” Wood said.

She also said to pay off any bill that has gone unpaid. It’s better to have bills paid late than not at all.

Wood said some Web sites offer free credit reports. She said checking this annually will give students a clear picture of where they stand with credit.