Credit card users beware of pitfalls

Before making purchases using credit cards, there are some basic guidelines students need to follow concerning the proper usage of credit cards before even applying for one.

With the spring semester coming to an end, students will be hitting the malls purchasing the latest summer fashions, buying plane tickets home and planning for summer vacation trips.

Many of the purchases made will be with credit cards. At Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Florida and the Florida Gulf Coast Inc. “10 to 15 percent of calls received from credit counselors are from college students,” said Amy Huff, an operator at CCCS.

Huff said the numbers are low in regard to the amount of students seeking aid.

She said the areas where there is a lager number of college students has a slightly higher percentage of calls.

Some of the students who are seeking counseling services from CCCS have fallen into trouble because they do have credit, and they see this as a pass to open as many credit card accounts as they are allowed, Huff said.

“Before a student applies for a credit card, they need to first establish a line of credit,” said Greg Kiefer, the manager of counseling at CCCS.

Kiefer said the easiest way to establish credit for someone that does not have any is to become a joint card holder with a parent who has good credit.

“Once a line of credit is established it is up to the consumer to use responsibility in the usage of their credit cards,” Kiefer said.

He said a student, who has established a good line of credit should only have a maximum of two cards, and they should avoid having multiple lines of credit.

“The best approach for students is to have one major credit card and one leisure credit card,” Kiefer said.

“Waiting six months to apply for a credit card after you have been declined is typically what I tell my customers,” said Nikki Clark, sales associate at Old Navy.

Many students who have a line of credit make mistakes when they want to open up accounts with all the credit card offers they receive in the mail.

“Having a credit card is a major responsibility,” Huff said. “At CCCS we deal with clients who let their credit card usage get out of hand, and it is up to us to help them find a payment plan to get their credit back on track.”

“I have six credit cards, and I maintain my bills,” said Allison Hill, 24, a FAMU alumna.

“Just because you’re offered a credit card doesn’t mean you can afford it,” Kiefer said.

“I was advised to close out all of my credit cards because I was trying to by a house,” said Lanica Parker, a credit card owner.

“I had no idea having credit cards could affect my credit score for something like that,” Parker said.