With graduate debt averaging over ?12,000, the ability to spread the cost of further education using a student credit card is obviously attractive. Adding to their appeal is the fact that these cards are relatively easy to obtain. Unlike many standard credit cards, they are available to people who do not have a regular, minimum income and credit history. They often come with tempting offers including low rates for an introductory period, shopping discounts and free CDs. Flexing student plastic has the additional benefit of creating a credit history that can be used to support future loan and mortgage applications.
So, with no regular income and credit history, what exactly is the attraction of students for the credit card companies? Well, the fact that graduates can expect to earn, on average, ?400,000 more over their lifetime than the national average, means that financial institutions are eager to attract this extra earning potential. Banks and credit card providers know that the general public are reluctant to go through the hassle of changing accounts, so by attracting students early in their career, they are likely to stay with them for life.
Student credit cards can have drawbacks. If balances are not paid off in full each month, most cards aimed at students notch up higher interest charges than their regular counterparts. These additional charges often cancel out the benefits of store discounts or free CDs. Credit cards aimed at those in further education may not attract the useful bonuses that regular plastic does, for example air miles, cash back on purchases and interest-free periods.
For details on the latest offers available to students, please visit: http://www.1st-uk-credit-cards.co.uk/student_cards.html
Credit cards aren't free money. Flashing plastic creates a debt that must be managed alongside the repayment of tuition fees, bank overdraft and student loan repayments. Handled well, a student will benefit in the future from a good credit rating. Managed poorly, students may end up with a bad history that will adversely affect subsequent credit applications.
It's also important to note that some standard credit cards do not require the holder to have a minimum regular income or credit history. Students working part time and holiday jobs may earn enough to apply for a range of standard cards. So, it is important for students to check out all suitable credit card deals, not just the ones aimed at people in further education.
A little research before signing on the dotted line can really pay off. By taking the time to compare the deals available on all suitable credit cards, interest repayments can be minimised and the benefits of holding a card maximised. And that really is good news for students.
Phil Edwards is a Business analyst in the city of London, freelance writer for several finance magazines and websites and co-owner of http://www.1st-uk-credit-cards.co.uk and http://www.1st-uk-loans.co.uk.