Our View: Spend smart

DKS Editors

Summary: While credit cards can be scary, using them smartly is key to building a credit score and planning for your future.

You’ve seen the warnings. You know the implications of huge credit card debt. Still, students can be careless when it comes to finances.

The Credit Card Act of 2009 took some steps toward encouraging smarter choices, making it much more difficult for people under 21 to get a credit card. Credit card companies that often attracted students with free perks such as chances to win a vacation or free T-shirts can no longer come onto a college campus to sell credit cards to students.

Sure, these precautions force people to be smarter, but it’s still up to students to think about their financial choices and be smart when it comes to credit cards.

While the tempting solution may be to just not get a credit card, the reality is that people need to have a credit score upon entering the “real world.” So don’t fear credit cards — just be very, very careful.

Keep track of what you’re spending each month, and make sure you can pay it off in full when your bill comes. This probably shouldn’t need to be said, but not following this simple advice is exactly what results in mountains of credit card debt. It’s easy to think of that little plastic card like free money, but you know that it’s not — so don’t treat it like a money tree.

CBS Money Watch offers other tips to being a savvy credit card owner. Take advantage of services like signing up for autopay or setting your own due date. Understand the perks and features for all of your cards, and use the right card for the job. When you do build up rewards, use them wisely. Finally, use each card at least once a year to avoid potential cancellations and hits to your credit score.

After hearing all the horror stories of credit card use gone wrong, it is easy to just avoid the plastic altogether, but we recommend smartly building credit for your future.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.