The simple action of swiping a card has become a part of everyday life for some college students, who have resorted to using their credit card, but there are advantages and disadvantages to relying on this purchasing method.
Dr. Adele Harrison, professor of finance, said there are positive and negative factors to consider regarding the ownership of a credit card.
“The advantages are you have a safety net if you run into an unexpected expense or if you have more month left than money when you get to the end,” Harrison said. “If managed well, it can help you to obtain a better FICO credit score so you find it easier to borrow in the future. The higher your credit scores, the lower the interest rates you pay.”
Valeria Gironas, junior sociology major, said she believes there can be many benefits to owning a credit card.
“It’s good to start building credit at a young age, so when I get older it will be easier to purchase a car or a house,” Gironas said. “I spend what I know I have because I don’t want my credit to be bad at a young age.”
Gironas said she understands keeping up with payments can be a difficult struggle for some, but tracking one’s finances can help simplify it in the future.
“I would tell other college students to start budgeting better because credit cards are no joke,” Gironas said. “I would advise them to start off making small purchases and gradually work your way up.”
Harrison mentioned those who turn to their credit card as their safety net tend to become comfortable with spending without a steady savings or a budget, serving as a disadvantage in the long run.
She said people spend 10 to 18 percent more when they use a card since there is less of an emotional attachment to the credit card.
“It allows you to make snap decisions,” Harrison said. “You might be better off staying back from the situation, waiting about 24 hours before making a purchase decision. Having that credit card allows you to make that decision in the moment.”
For those who may not be ready for the responsibility of owning credit cards, other alternatives may be used to make purchases.
Harrison also said having a friend or family member around to help the person be more accountable when considering buying a product or making a purchase will help a person stay on track to make wise financial choices.
If students own a credit card, Harrison said they should strive to be good stewards of their finances and thoughtfully approach any financial situation they encounter.
“When it comes to utilizing credit, it’s pretty much like everything else in life,” Harrison said. “God looks at the heart. He looks at the motivation for using it. If you’re using it for wanting to look better in peoples’ eyes or you’re lacking self-discipline and you’re not content with where you are right now, then that just grieves the Holy Spirit and it’s when it becomes a problem with debt.”