Think twice when sifting through the credit card offers

Danielle Howard

From Visa, MasterCard and Discover to countless other credit cards, the swiping options seem endless when trying to pick one.

However, that doesn’t stop college students from opening accounts. According to, “the average undergraduate has $2,200 in credit card debt. That figure jumps to $5,800 for graduate students.”

Like countless others, freshman speech pathology major Danielle Herbe has a credit card.

“It’s like free money — you just swipe without thinking you are using it,” she said.

However, credit cards are not free money; rather, they’re loans with high interest rates. Choosing the right card, with good rates, can be difficult. According to Bank of America, founded in 1929, there are several factors to consider when choosing the right card:

Think of your needs. Decide what you are going to use the card for. For example, use it for emergencies only, gas only or impulse shopping.

Narrow your search. Find out the benefits and downfalls of each individual card. For example, one card may offer cash-back bonuses to use toward gas, but may also have high interest rates. Another card may have no reward program, but may offer low interest rates. Choose which is more important.

Always read the fine print: The fine print disclosures provide the details you need and they are required by law.

Along with choosing the right card, paying the bill on time and in full is key to keeping credit in top shape.

According to, big finance charges and increasing interest often result from not paying off the entire amount each month.

“I used to (pay the minimum),” said Jonathan Boncimino, senior human development and family studies major. “But I got sick of paying interest so I pay more … I remind myself that if I can’t pay for it in full when the bill comes, I don’t need it anyway.”

Contact features reporter Danielle Howard at [email protected].