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Credit Card Laws for Students to Know

Credit Card Laws for Students to Know

Credit card laws that students need to know.

By Kathryn Knight Randolph

In 2009, Sallie Mae released a study that the average college graduate leaves school with as much as $3,173 in credit card debt. And that’s in addition to the nearly $23,000 in student loan debt.

That same year, in response to the faltering economy and as one of his first acts in office, President Obama signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 – more informally known as the Credit CARD Act. This law established tighter restrictions on the way credit card companies could market to students under the age of 21.

Hopefully, these stricter guidelines will prevent students from amassing so much credit card debt as the amount borrowed in student loans no doubt raises along with increasing tuition costs.

So what can you expect to find from credit card companies as a student?

Required Co-Signer or Legitimate Income

Gone are the days when you could just get a credit card because you filled out a form. If you are under 21, you are required to have a cosigner who is just as reliable for that credit card debt as you are. And guess what? All of the experts are telling your parents it’s a bad idea to cosign on your credit card.

If you can prove that you have a legitimate income that provides the means to pay your credit card monthly, you may qualify for a card.

So what should you do if you can’t get a card? Live frugally with a debit card.

Just Say “No” to Free Stuff

Back in the day, credit card companies courted card-vying students with free pizza, t-shirts and sub sandwiches just for filling out an application. Under the Credit CARD Act, companies can no longer hand out free stuff to entice students to apply.

Fewer Preapproved Cards

Good news. If you’re under 21, you will get much less junk mail from credit card companies saying you were pre-approved for a credit card. That’s because credit card companies can only access your credit report if you give them permission.

Recommendations for Colleges & Universities

While credit card companies are required to give college campuses advanced notice of being on campus to advertise their cards, colleges and universities are required to educate students on being a responsible credit card holder.


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