College can be a time of learning, a time of adventure, and a time of stress. Many of those stresses spring from bills. From student loans to textbooks, college life is expensive. Many students sign up for student credit cards during college.
Student credit cards are granted to any member of the academic community regardless of whether a student is part time or full time, undergraduate or graduate, international students who are visiting, working or studying in the US, school staffs either full time or part time faculty and administrators who are ages 16 year old and above. For those students who are less than 18 years of age consent from the parents or the guardian is required.
Applying for a student credit card is advised since it can help students in creating their credit history which they will need in the future especially in obtaining loans including car, housing or even cash loans. A great number of international students and scholars find it really difficult to obtain a credit card since they lack a credit card history. In order for them to build a credit card history they should have a credit card or at least have a history in paying off debts of whatever type. It is actually a frustrating situation especially if you are badly in need of financial assistance. Many international students who applied for a credit card have been rejected.
How can I obtain a student credit card?
Before applying for your credit card, keep in mind that this should not be a free pass to buy anything you want. Make sure you will be able to make your monthly payments!
1. It always better to obtain a secured credit card to help you in building your credit history. Inquire in your bank whether they are offering secured credit card. A secured credit card is a type of credit card with a deposit. The deposit becomes your credit line. This means that when you reach your credit line you need to pay off or else your credit card is going to be suspended. If you can religiously pay your monthly credit bills then you will be able to build a more reliable credit history.
2. Student credit cards are open to students who have lived in the United States before or for some time so an international student will still have the chance to obtain credit card.
3. For full time student you may contact your bank in order to apply for a student credit card. Your bank will handle your credit card request.
4. There are cases when your application for a student credit card is denied; when this happens you need to find someone who has a good credit standing to act as your guarantor.
Benefits derived from obtaining a student credit card:
Student credit cards help students to learn how to become responsible, especially in terms of handling money. By wisely using these cards students are able to start boosting their credit scores. A student credit card is also a great way of teaching students about interest and debt. With correct and proper guidance, students will be able to gain more benefits from obtaining a student credit card.
The disadvantages of student credit cards:
A student credit card when not used responsibly can result to a great amount of debt that follows a student even after he or she graduated from college. The reason for this is that often times students max out their cards especially those without any money managing skills have the trouble understanding that a credit card is not „FREE MONEY“. It is a debt that needs to be repaid.
Sometimes students have very little income which makes it difficult to pay on these credit card bills. Each month, the bill continues to rise and become more overwhelming. Often, late payments and interest begins to accumulate, making it harder for students to repay the debt. The minimum payment just isn’t enough to put a dent in the problem.
In signing up for a student credit card remember that you and you alone are responsible for paying your bills so be responsible in your expenses. Control yourself from overspending on things that you don’t need.
Reading your merchant statement and finding the rates and fees you're being charged can be like playing "Where's Waldo?". One reason is because there are nearly as many different statement formats as there are merchant acquiring companies. Also, because of how competitive the industry has become, many monthly statements don't completely disclose the rates being charged. And sometimes they are completely hidden.
I know of banks that don't even send a statement out. If a merchant wants details of what they paid they have to logon to an online account to find it.
It's War Out There!
One reason for this is the competitiveness. You have to remember that credit and debit cards make up part of a 2 trillion dollar industry. Money is like a magnet - it attracts Most merchants are being contacted continually by competing processors trying to get them to switch processors, by promising "lower rates", etc.
So, to prevent a sales agent from another processing company from taking a merchant away - some processors make it as hard as possible for a competitor's sales rep to walk in to a business, analyze a merchant statement, and do an 'apples for apples' comparison.
That being said, there are still some basic keys to look for when reading your statement. Here's what I look for in analyzing a merchant statement, in order:
- One: The pricing structure - how has the account been set up? Which pricing model does it employ? Is it using tiers (e.g. 3-tier; 4-tier, etc.) or - is it using "Interchange Plus"? (NOTE: most merchants are on a tier pricing model, which, in my opinion guarantees they're being overcharged. Also, there are other pricing structures but tier pricing is by far the most common)
- Two: The monthly fees (sometimes called "Other") - next, I look to see what the monthly fees are. This can include: a statement fee; monthly service fee; account maintenance fee (normally, you'd only see one of these although I've seen two - or, you may see the equivalent fee but using a different term); PCI fee; batch fee; and gateway or access fees. Any miscellaneous, but not monthly fees can also show up here - e.g., an annual fee or semi-quarterly.
- Three: Processing Fees - this is where the discount rates will be listed. If you are on tier pricing the best statements will print an itemized list showing the "qualified", "mid-qualified", and "non-qualified" (the 3 tiers) rate. If you are on Interchange Plus, you'll see a list showing all the different cards you took, followed by the actual interchange rate for the card, the "dpi" (discount per item), plus the processors mark-up expressed as basis points and a transaction fee (or per item, depending on the term used to list it).
- Four: Authorization Fees - here's where you'll find fees that go to VISA and MC. They'll show up listed as access, authorization, and /or WATTS fees. You could also find here AVS fees (address verification); assessment fees; brand usage fee; risk fee; settlement fees, IAS fee (Issuer Access & Settlement).
- Five: Third Party Fees - 3rd parties means networks other than VISA & MC that are included in your statement. This would include American Express, Discover, and the debit networks if you are using pin debit
Part of the problem in reading a merchant statement is different processors use different category names and different terms to identify charges. That's why I began by saying it can be like playing "Where's Waldo?" While there are common terms used for certain fees there is also a wide variation used, depending on the acquirer (the company you signed a merchant agreement with).
Again, part of this is due to an attempt to hide what's being charged and make it difficult for a competitor to analyze a statement. While that's 'somewhat' understandable - in my opinion it's a disservice to the merchant. Integrity demands transparency. Maybe if processors were more merchant oriented they'd have a lower turnover and would not have to worry about competition so much. At least that's my opinion.