To the average commuter or resident, depending on Connect Cards and cash may not be enough to get by. Many students are turning to credit cards to cover any extra expenses.
Many banks today are making it difficult for students to get the credit cards. According to the president of Bridgewater Savings Bank, James Lively, the process of obtaining a student credit card has become harder since the recession. He said most banks now expect applicants to already have a credit score of 720, a score that’s nearly impossible to achieve without already having a credit card.
Despite the difficult requirements, eighty-four percent of undergraduates had at least one credit card in 2008, according to Sallie Mae’s National Study of Usage Rates and Trends 2009.
Due to the unrealistic credit score expectation and the fact that most parents will need to cosign due to the restrictions of the Credit Card Act of 2009, some people opt to instead receive credit cards through stores such as Macy’s and Walmart, Lively said.
However, Sarah Mullarkey, a Sophomore health studies major said that it was not difficult to get her credit card a year ago, but she was not anxious to get one.
“I actually didn’t want to get the credit card,” Mullarkey said in an email. “My mom signed me up for it in order to build my credit. By starting buying small things like my school books, I could build a good credit score for when I need to make bigger purchases such as a car and further down the road, loans for houses and what not.”
Mularkey is one of the more fortunate students, however, as Lively said that many grads are forced to depend on their parents to cosign for purchases such as cars, because they have not been able to build their credit while in school.
Victoria Sousa, a junior Management major chose to get a credit card from Kohl’s, so that her credit would increase enough for her to buy a car.
“I needed to build up my credit,” Sousa said. “Because I wasn’t able to get approved for a car loan on my own. It was convenient and it’s a place I shop at a lot, so it seemed like the right choice.”
Despite its many advantages, Mullarkey said she continues to have mixed feelings and some apprehension about owning a credit card so young. She fears it might get her into trouble with debt, but says she’s been careful about using the card too much.
“I never actually wanted the card, but I see the reason in getting one this young,” she said in the email. “I will have a solid credit basis and it is a great tool for emergencies.”