College Finance 101: How to make it to graduation without student debt

  • Apply for a Student Credit Card (But Use Caution). A line of credit is a great way to continue building your credit history so that you have a good to excellent credit score upon graduation. This card can also be used for emergencies, should one arise. If you already have some history of credit established, you can apply for your own credit card without help from your parents. However, you will need to make sure that you have a high enough credit score to meet the requirements necessary to get approved for the card you want before you apply. You can check your credit score for free using CompareCards’ Credit Concierge.

    Determining which student credit card is best for you will depend on factors such as your credit score and what kind of perks or benefits you want. Check out our guide for the First Time Credit Card Owner when you think you’re ready for your first credit card.

    These cards usually come with free tools to help you manage and monitor your credit card use, such as free text and e-mail alerts. You can also use online tools to alert you if you approach your credit limit and get access to free calculators that help you figure out how to pay off your balances faster and cheaper.

Quick Tips:

  • Make sure that you qualify for the card you are applying for.
  • Only apply for one credit card. Applying for multiple lines of credit will have a negative impact on your credit score.
  • Use your new credit card to make small purchases and pay the balance off in full each month.


Do not use credit cards as an additional source of funds while you’re in school. It’s easy to rack up a large amount of debt, but not so easy to pay it off, especially if you carry a balance. After graduation, when payments on student loans begin, a credit card payment can be an unnecessary burden that can take many years to pay off.

Remember that it is crucial to make smart financial decisions while still in school to limit the financial burden as much as possible, as this will have a direct and lasting impact on your financial health for the rest of your life.

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