Financial Literacy: How Credit Cards Work

Paying with a credit card


If you use a charge card, the lender pays the seller or retailer for your benefit. The lender is relying upon you to cover it back without interest.

When you get a credit card, then your available credit will probably be very reduced. However, over time, because you establish yourself to become accountable and dependable about paying for your credit card invoice, banks will generally earn more credit available to you along with additional cardholder perks and benefits.

But simply because a financial institution supplies you with a charge card or raises your credit limit does not indicate you could afford to bill up your card to the max. If you’re late with payments or even conduct up your cards to the limit, then your credit rating will suffer.

Why College Students Must Get a Credit Card

Assembling your charge

While devoting consumer debt onto a student’s earnings is insecure, credit cards let college students construct a credit report, which may make life after school easier and less expensive. As stated by the 2016 Financial Services report by Student Monitor, pupils using a credit card in their name report with credit scores which are 50 points higher on average (679) than pupils who do not possess their own credit card (629).

Obtaining your first task

As stated by the Society for Human Resource Management, almost half of the companies surveyed conduct history credit checks on prospective hires. But, 11 says thus much have limited or prohibited companies from using credit history checks from the hiring procedure.

Obtaining insurance

In most states, insurance businesses examine credit reports when deciding whether to issue a car insurance plan. As an instance, based on Consumer Reports, only motorists who’d just ‘great scores’ compensated between $68 and $526 greater in auto insurance premiums annually compared to those with outstanding scores.

Obtaining a flat

A fantastic credit rating may also help you get qualified for a flat or be eligible for a lesser deposit. Based on TransUnion, among the three big consumer credit reporting agencies in the USA, 43 percent of taxpayers conduct credit checks to applicants as part of the screening procedure, and 48% believe that an applicant’s credit report to become among the best few factors they consider when it comes to apartment leasing software.

An established credit rating may help you qualify for a decrease deposit demand, without a deposit demand, when turning on gasoline, electrical and other utilities.


Banks provide an assortment of rewards programs developed to inspire you to utilize your card. By way of instance, some cards, such as the Capital One Credit Card (read more), provide cash back on purchases each month. Other folks provide miles or points for each dollar spent on the card, which might be redeemed for money, merchandise, travel, and much more.

Cardholder advantages

Virtually all credit cards arrive with quite a few fundamental advantages and rights for cardholders. These advantages commonly comprise these perks:

  • Free FICO credit rating along with your monthly invoice
  • Extended warranty protection on things purchased with a credit card
  • Roadside help
  • Limited/zero liability for fraudulent trades
  • Traveling Insurance Policy
  • Free or discounted crash insurance on rental cars
  • Extended guarantee and return coverage

Furthermore, many issuers are supplying access to quality financial instruction designed especially for first-time charge card consumers. JPMorgan Chase, Discover, and Capital Some have ever expanded their private finance education segment in their websites to help instruct younger clients. This is an especially important attribute, states Beverly Harzog, writer of “The Debt Escape Strategy: How to Free Yourself From Credit Card Balances, Boost Your credit score, also Live Debt-Free” and “Confessions of a Credit Score Junkie.” “Not everyone’s parents will tell their children this stuff in the home,” she states.


ALSO READ: Engaging Adults And The Youth Through Consumer Education


Protecting against theft and fraud

Both debit and credit cards help to lessen the demand for pupils to make money, which is a safety advantage. Furthermore, in case your card has been stolen and you’re a victim of fraud, then your liability is limited to 50 beneath the Fair Credit Billing Act, even provided that you report the fraud or theft within 2 days of detection. The obligation is limited to $500 in the event the cardholder reports the theft or fraudulent action within 60 days.

Along with those consumer protections demanded by national legislation, the four big credit card issuers (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover) have executed a zero liability coverage, and it will be a promise that the cardholder won’t be held accountable for any fraudulent charges, given the fraud has been documented in a timely way.

Getting Your First Credit Card

When submitting an application for a card, then the card-issuing bank will study your credit report to determine whether you’re a fantastic risk for that specific card. The issuer buys your own credit report from at least one of the 3 leading U.S. credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian. The issuer would think about:

  • Your present credit report
  • The entire amount you owe to several lenders who report to the agencies, such as credit card issuers, utility providers, mobile and online carriers, automobile financing businesses, and much more
  • Your repayment tracklisting
  • Your charge use ratio: This is the sum you owe, divided by your total credit. A reduced usage ratio is much significantly better for the credit rating.
  • Your credit rating

Typically, the credit rating lenders will consider is the FICO score. FICO stands for “Fair, Isaac Corporation,” which is a private firm that functions as a credit score data clearinghouse. The 3 big consumer credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, get info from FICO, which also developed the algorithm which credit agencies use to make your credit rating.

Your FICO score signifies the odds you will cover your debts in time. Scores range from 300 to 850, with a greater number indicating a much better score. When there are additional credit scores available for customers, the FICO score is utilized by the majority of lenders.

Your FICO score is determined by these variables:

  • Payment background: 35 percentage
  • Lending: 30 percentage
  • Length of credit rating: 15 percentage
  • New credit and queries: 10 percentage
  • Credit blend: 10 percentage

In case your program, credit, and income history fulfill your bank’s credit standards, which is typically comparatively lax for student credit cards, and then your program is accepted and you’ll get a new credit card in the mail from seven to 14 times, generally. Based on Student Monitor, the typical credit limitation for all school students is 1,315 as of spring 2016.

If you use the card, then the lender pays the retailer or seller, and the lender sends you an invoice at the end of the payment cycle. You’re responsible for earning at least minimum payment due from the due date to the invoice, which by law should be no greater than 21 days from the date that the invoice is sent. All these 21 times will be the interest-free grace period for purchases, so in the event that you repay all of your purchases for this month from the due date in your invoice, you won’t confront any interest fees on such purchases.

Credit cards for individuals younger than 21

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009limits the capability of banks to issue credit cards to people younger than 21. But, you are still able to be eligible for a credit card in case you are younger than 21 if you’re able to demonstrate the capability to settle credit card payments. Be ready to supply written evidence of revenue. You will likely also have established a credit score history, like creating student loan payments, rent, telephone bills, or utilities punctually. Those younger than 21 should either use online or via the mail.

Become a licensed user

You could have the ability to acquire a card issued in your own parents’ or guardians’ account should they add you as a licensed user. The lender will issue your card to the principal cardholder’s account should they ask it, however also you and your buddy will be collectively accountable for paying all fees. This means in the event that you do not pay, your own parents or guardians will be legally accountable for making good on the debt. Most important credit card issuing banks may include a licensed user if the consumer is more than 18. The account holder might need to pay a commission to bring a licensed user.


You can also think about requesting a parent or other responsible person to cosign on your charge card by accepting responsibility for those fees if you do not refund them. In case the borrower does not repay the loan or pay off the invoice in time, or defaults, then the two parties’ credit reports are going to take a hit. In case the debtor defaults, the cosigner should pay or possibly face exactly the identical assortment actions as the debtor, such as suits, judgments, garnishments, and levies.

Many card issuers, including American Express not take cosigners for charge cards.

Recognizing Your Card Characteristics

Your charge card issuer will email or email you an invoice each month. You could even view your invoice online anytime by making an internet account and logging in to your card issuer’s web site.

Here are the most important things you should understand on your invoice:

  • Complete balance: Here is the entire amount you owe at the time that the announcement is issued.
  • Activity outline: This outlines the fees and credits into your account throughout the month. Here you will locate the aggregate rates of each of the credits, payments, purchases, interest rates, fees, balance transfers, and cash advances to your date range to the charging cycle.
  • APR: Your yearly percentage rate is the attention you pay to borrow cash from your credit card issuer. Purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers could each have another APR.
  • Minimum payment due: Here is the cheapest payment you’ll be able to send to maintain the accounts current and prevent delinquency in your credit score. You have to cover this to prevent a late fee plus a punishment APR.
  • Payment date: Here is the conclusion of the grace period, and also the date on which the lender must get your payment so as to remain present and prevent any interest rates on the equilibrium.
  • Charge line: That is the general credit limit or the maximum you’re approved to charge to a credit card.
  • Charge available: Here is how much charge you’ve left until you reach your borrowing limit.
  • Rewards: This segment will explain to you just how much you’ve earned rewards if the money back on purchases or in the shape of miles or points.
  • Your FICO score: it’s typical for student credit card issuers to supply your present credit rating from a number of the significant credit agencies at no cost on your announcement.