Visa: It’s everywhere it shouldn’t be

DKS Editorial Board

Most students who earn a higher education also earn a mountain of debt.

As reported last week in the Stater, 66 percent of Kent State graduates in 2003 entered the professional world in debt. Their average debt? A whopping $19,439.

According to a Stater article printed just a day earlier, not all student debt is based on student loans. Credit card debt is another culprit — and it can be a dangerous one at that.

With credit card solicitors calling residence hall rooms in universities across the country and also sending mailing after mailing to students, many get involved with credit cards without realizing how quickly they can become burdensome. Each university — including Kent State — has an obligation to keep its students’ financial well-being in mind and keep student information to itself.

But, the interest on the purchases any credit card holder makes can add up — and can do so rapidly. Here’s a quick lowdown on how credit cards work:

A student applies for a credit card and is accepted.

That credit card is sent via snail mail to

the student.

Student calls to activate the credit card and is now able to make purchases with that card up to a set limit — often called a credit line or limit. Thus, if one’s credit limit is $3,000, that person may spend up to that amount.

Student gets credit card bills and either a) chooses to pay off his or her monthly balances every month, b) chooses to wait to pay in full or c) cannot pay off his or her balance and must wait to pay in full. The last two options incur interest charges. So, if a student has charged $100 on his or her credit card, has a 20 percent interest rate and does not pay off the entire amount, he or she will be charged 20 percent of that which they do not pay off.

It is a costly venture, and it is not one that should be taken lightly. Not paying one’s bill off every month costs money, and not paying one’s bill period can be sheer disaster for a student’s barely-there credit history.

For those students who do have credit cards, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has a few tips for managing them:

n Ask questions if you are puzzled about an aspect of your credit card because answers may help you make better financial choices.

n If possible, pay your balance in full every month.

n Make early payments between statements. Interest is typically charged from the date you make a purchase until you pay it in full so making an early payment saves you interest charges.

n Take cash advances only when necessary in short-term or emergency situations only. Interest of cash advances is charged from the time you borrow until the time you pay the advance in full, and those daily interest charges add up in a hurry.

n Allow time for your payment to reach your credit card company because if you don’t, you may end up making a late payment that could negatively affect your credit history.

The moral seems to be: take caution. Student loans cost enough as it is, and no one wants to be 30 years old and still paying for a pair of shoes or an XBox game they bought on their Visa card when they were an undergrad.

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