College credit: the good and the bad

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Many of us worry about our finances when we get older, but every year college students take the first steps toward possibly destroying their credit without even knowing it.

"My mom gives me a credit card for gas but I don't use it for anything besides that," said college student Jordan Coomer.

Every year college students across the country sign up for credit cards and many don't know a lot about them.;

"Honestly not very much.  I know that if you don't pay them you get into trouble," said Coomer.

Coomer is getting ready to start school at ASU.

"Things that you need for credit, I think about it.  But then, you know, other things are more important at the time so I just kind of bypass that.  We'll worry about it later," said Coomer.

Financial consultant Garry Patterson said students graduate high school knowing very little about money management.

"The world out there is just trying to get you to buy everything," said Karen Coomer.

Jordan's mom Karen does about her daughter and her finances.

"So often we forget the simple things in life that kids need to know," said Karen Coomer.

While most high schools offer some information many wish they did more.

"If I had my way then all kids would take a class in finance their senior year.  They would learn about car insurance, house insurance, and all the things you will do with your money for the rest of your life," said Karen Coomer.

Some see credit cards as free money, when it is not.  A recent Sallie Mae study finds, on average, college students have over $3,000 in credit card debt.  82% of them only pay the minimum.

Sometimes, Jordan said, she is tempted by some of the credit card offers.

"You sometimes think, 'Oh wow, lets do this', when you're walking around with your friends.  'Hey, let's get one of these', then you spend too much," said Jordan Coomer.

"I would just really prefer she didn't because I don't think the 10% you're going to get is going to be worth the trouble you may get into by over extending yourself," said Karen Coomer.

Part of a new credit card law recently passed requires those 21 and under to have a co-signer to get a credit card, proof they have some type of income, or attend a financial literacy course to teach them how to use the card.  Most of that law doesn't take effect until February of next year.

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