What kinds of cards should recent graduates seek?Friday, May 25, 2012 at 2:36:47 PM
This spring, millions of students nationwide will graduate from high school or college and may be looking to open a credit card account in their own name. But doing so comes with many responsibilities, and there's a lot these young adults will need to know.
For high school grads
The first thing you will need to know about credit cards is that you probably won't be able to get one on your own. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 created rules that limit the availability of these accounts to consumers under the age of 21 unless they fit one of two criteria: either they must have an adult co-signer on the card, or they must be able to provide adequate proof that they can afford one on their own.
For many 18- and 19-year-olds, the latter will likely be difficult to accomplish, and for this reason, if you're looking for a credit card before you head off to college or start a job, you'll probably need an adult co-signer like a parent or older sibling. But this can cause other problems. Credit card offers require a co-signer because in addition to yourself, the co-signer is held just as responsible for any debt you accrue as you are. That means if you fall behind on payments, you're hurting their financial standing as well as your own.
For college grads
If you're graduating from college, the odds are pretty good that you already have at least one credit card in your name, and owe as much as thousands of dollars on that account. And because the job market can be tough for recent grads who are trying to gain their financial independence, it might be a good idea to think hard about the types of cards that are appropriate before you fill out a credit card application.
The best credit cards for recent college grads will likely be those that carry low introductory interest rates - such as balance transfer credit cards - or those that carry no annual fee, and are therefore less expensive to maintain.
If you find yourself seeking any type of new account, you should carefully review a number of credit cards offers to find the one that works best for you and your unique financial system, taking into account spending and repayment habits.