We’ve all probably had (and still have) trepidation when it comes to using credit cards. For me, credit cards and using them were never discussed too much in my household and the only thing I associated with credit cards was debt. That was definitely not a great place to start. It was not until the fall of my junior year of college that I got my first credit card. It was one of the best financial decisions I made while at school and here are some reasons why.
1. Getting a credit card helped with budgeting
There were many times during my time at school where I needed to buy notebooks, toiletries, or wanted to go out with friends but lacked the money in my bank account to do so. I knew I was going to get paid by my campus job, but not in time for the things I needed and wanted to do, which was frustrating. Bugging my parents or friends every time I needed some cash also wasn’t the most appealing option either. Getting a credit card allowed me to purchase the items I needed and have the experience I wanted to have without worrying if I had money on hand. Now if I didn’t have a job and was using my credit card, that would have been a whole different story but knowing that I had a job that could cover my bill allowed me to strategize differently when I was budgeting.
2. Building up credit
This point is suuuuper important. I think one of the reasons why I did not get a credit card was because I didn’t understand the long term benefits that would come with using it. Whether it’s getting better deals on car insurance or getting better rates on renting apartments, I realized the benefits of having a credit card were great. Although I could co-sign with one of my parents on an apartment, for example, I found that learning to establish my own credit and independence helped my learning process.
3. Overcoming my own fear and helping others do the same
This is perhaps the most important thing for me. There tends to be a lot of fear and anxiety when it comes to topics such as using credit cards. We’re not born with the anxiety of using credit cards but learn and experience it through unfortunate stories we hear, our experience with family and friends, and other sources. It was important to me to get past that barrier because I knew that it would help me get in control of my financial livelihood and mindset and also show fellow peers that you can get a credit card without racking up a lot of debt.
Josh Collins graduated from Swarthmore College in 2020. He was the Co-Founder of the personal finance organization SWIFT - Swarthmore, Wealth, Investment, Finance and Trade.