The life of a university student is so varied and unlike any other part of your life. For many people, it's their first time living out of home, which often requires learning any number of new life skills - laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills and budgeting.
We can't help you do your laundry or your dishes, but when it comes to your finances and setting a budget we've got you covered. From tracking your spending, setting limits and adding a credit card to your wallet, here are our tips for students and their finances.
Getting a student credit card
Let's cut to the chase. If you're a student living on a low income, a credit card is the simplest way to give yourself some flexibility. Credit cards allow you to manage your cash flow, grow your credit history and can help cover some common student costs:
- University supplies or additional fees
- Travel expenses
But a credit card shouldn't be your only life line. In fact, it should be used in conjunction with a well-prepared budget.
Tips for managing a student budget
- Pay your bills on time: Set up a direct debit for all of your recurring payments, including phone bills, gas and electricity or gym memberships.
- Change bank accounts: Take into consideration how much your bank charges in ATM fees. Because a $10 monthly account fee might also cover the cost of dinner for a week. If possible, look for a bank account offering low or no fees. Some institutions often student accounts, which often waive monthly account fees.
- Set a limit: The hardest part of managing a budget is setting a hard limit for some things and sticking to it. This doesn't mean you can't enjoy a meal out, go see a show or buy a cute outfit. It means exercising some self-restraint. Set up your credit card with a clear, well thought out limit that isn't going to put yourself in long term debt.
- Carry a valid student ID: Many places offer a discount to university students. Keep a valid copy of your student ID with you at all times, you never know when it will come in handy.
The InfoChoice online budget planner is a great tool to help you keep on track. It is an easy way to help you get an overall picture of where your money is going. Simply enter your income details and out-going expenses, and within a few seconds you can view your results. Learning how to budget is an essential part of managing a credit card.
Find the right student credit card for you
What makes a student credit card the best? Put simply, the cheapest credit card. You're on a budget, you don't want to spend any extra paying fees and paying off high interest charges, and you don't want to put yourself in long term debt. When comparing credit cards also keep an eye out for the following top features:
- Low interest - The interest rate is the amount of interest you'll pay on each charge on your credit card. The interest rate is usually per annum and you'll likely be charged each month. Remember the interest is only charged on outstanding balances.
- Interest-free periods - Some credit cards come with an interest-free period. You won't pay any interest on charges repaid within this time frame
- Low or no fees - Keep an eye out for the different fees and charges on your credit card. Aside from annual fees and interest charges, you might also be charged an insurance fee, a late repayment fee or a fee for going over your credit limit
- Complimentary rewards or extras - Some student credit cards come with additional benefits like insurance or reward points that may suit your lifestyle.
The best student credit cards
To make it easier for you to find the right credit card, click here to find the cheapest student credit cards available with InfoChoice at the moment. Once you've found the credit card that's right for you, applying is easy. Simply click the green 'Go to site' button. This will take you directly to the application on the bank's website. Compare credit cards with InfoChoice today. Not quite ready? Learn more about the different types of credit cards.