Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Student credit card offers; a nice helping hand or a road to ruin?

Thursday 16th August brought much joy to thousands of teenagers across the UK as they received their A Level results and found that their hard work had paid off and they now have the grades needed to get into the University of their choice.

But the distance between their new digs and their mum and dad’s abode may not be the biggest thing that students have to worry about.

Indeed, their biggest concern is likely to be money.

On top of tuition fees shooting through the roof this year, the cost of food, travel and accommodation has also skyrocketed and while loans and grants can be obtained from the government, they often don’t stretch enough.

Of course, there are some students out there who were born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths and don’t have to worry too much because their parents pay costs for them and even provide them with a weekly or monthly allowance.

However, in recent years a university education has become more and more desirable to those from working class backgrounds but without getting a part-time job, many of these people will find their life as a student is a struggle.

Banks and building societies at this stage may seem like they can come riding to the rescue like knights in shining armour and they offer products which can certainly improve a person’s financial situation.

Banks view students as bright young things who will one day go onto good jobs with promising incomes so will bombard them with offers in the hope that they can gain a customer for life.

These offers may include free travel cards and discount offers, which can really come in handy, but they will also offer things such as overdrafts and credit cards.

Both of these are great things providing they are used sensibly.

In terms of credit cards, the majority of banks will provide a limit of around £1,000 to students. This will be a nice helping hand when things get tough but can also create a problem if not used correctly.
Indeed, if a student can ensure they meet their monthly payments and only use their credit card when is absolutely necessary then a credit card is a good thing to have.

However, many students might be tempted to splurge the credit card on new outfits for nights out and other items which while helping to provide fun are not needed in the grand scheme of things.
Again this isn’t really an issue providing payments are made, but for students living from loan to loan with no other income, it will mean making payments at times when they simply do not have any money coming in.

Obviously, it is a prudent move for the student to save some of their last loan or grant payment for this but that requires an element of control which many people sadly are unable to carry out.
Looking at official figures it is easy to see why so many students feel they have to turn to overdrafts and credit cards as a means of getting by.

Statistics released this week by Lloyds TSB show that 16 per cent of students lack the money needed to get through a full month, while a further 40 per cent do it at a real stretch.
Jatin Patel, director of current accounts at Lloyds TSB, said: "For many, going to university is one of the biggest financial commitments they will have to face in their lifetime, and with the introduction of higher tuition fees it is perhaps more important than ever for students to stay in control of their finances.”

“With finances tight, many students turn to paid work to help cover their monthly outgoings. However, it is clear that even with extra income from employment, a lot of students are still struggling to make ends meet.”

If you’re a student and are struggling with debts from credit cards and short term loans you could seek out some much needed Debt Advice. Often this will help put things in perspective and make things much more manageable.

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