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CollegeData - 5 Facts About Debit, Credit, and Prepaid Cards

5 Facts About Debit, Credit, and Prepaid Cards

Credit, debit and prepaid cards might all look the same, but are they? Here are some things to consider before choosing one of these cards to use while you're at college.

Whatever card you choose, you should make sure you understand how it works and whether there are any fees, other costs, and limitations on using the card.

1. Credit, debit, and prepaid cards each work differently.

2. Eligibility requirements are different.

You need to be of legal age (18 or 19 depending on your state of residence) to get your own credit, debit and some prepaid cards. In addition:

3. Fees can vary.

The fees associated with prepaid, debit, and credit cards vary widely from card to card. For example, late payment fees are often charged for late and missed credit card payments. A fee may be charged for using your debit card at an ATM outside your bank's network. Also, for prepaid cards, common fees include monthly usage fees, cash reload fees, and inactivity fees. For any card you plan to use, make sure you understand what fees may be charged.

4. Only a credit card can help to build a credit history.

It's important to make credit payments on time. Making payments on time and otherwise using a credit card responsibly may help you establish and maintain a good credit history in your own name, which in turn may one day help you get a job or qualify for a mortgage. Debit and prepaid cards do not have any impact on your credit history.

5. No card will save you from yourself.

It's no secret that if you're not careful, you can get into financial trouble using a credit card. While most student cards have low credit limits, it's still easy to charge more than you realize and find yourself paying interest on a balance that you can't afford to repay.

Some money-management experts consider debit and prepaid cards better for students because they limit spending to just what's on the card or in your account. But no card will stop you from overspending. Most debit cards, and even some prepaid cards, offer overdraft protection, which in some cases may permit you to make purchases that exceed your balance -- usually for a hefty fee.

A credit card can still be a wise choice for college students if you're careful to purchase only what you can afford to pay for. That way, the card can help you stick to a budget and help you begin to establish a solid credit history.

What's Next?

Information in this article is of a general nature. It is provided by CollegeData for educational purposes only and may not apply to you or your situation. Please consult a financial or legal advisor before acting on such information. CollegeData is a service of 1st Financial Bank USA.