What You Need to Know about Getting Your First Credit Card

For students trying to build credit, credit cards can be a great option, but some risks come along with them that you need to be aware of.

The Credit Card Act of 2009 requires those under 21 to either have proof of income, or an adult cosigner in order to have a credit card. For many college students who have very little income or are under 21, this can leave you with few credit card options.

If you have enough income or can get a cosigner, which could be a parent or family member, a student credit card could be a good option for you.  Many student credit cards have no annuals fees, have reasonable interest rates, and offer rewards, such as cashback. Some credit card companies will even provide you with your credit score, which can be a great perk if you are trying to build credit. Many credit card companies also have apps for your phone that can help you track your spending and pay your bills. Most student credit cards have interest rates between 11.15% and 21.99%. Another option could be a credit card offered by your bank or credit union. Be aware of the interest rate, late fees, and any other fees for any credit card that you apply for. Always research any credit card that you are thinking about before you apply.

If you are not approved for a credit card, or have bad credit, there is another option: you can apply for a secured credit card. A secured credit card is for those who want to build or rebuild their credit. For a secured card, you are required to deposit money into a savings account to be used as collateral if you are late with your payments, and that deposit will then become your credit limit. A secured card works just like a credit card, and you will have monthly payments and be charged interest if you do not pay off your balance. Secured cards usually have an annual fee, and usually do not have the same benefits as many other credit cards. However, secured cards may be the only option to build credit for some.

Just remember that if you are not paying your balance in full every month for any credit card, you will be accruing interest, which will add up over time.


  • If possible, pay your balance in full every month to avoid the costs of interest.
  • At least make the minimum monthly payment.
  • Always pay on time.  Late payments stay on your credit report and score for 7 years.
  • Never exceed your credit limit and try to stay between 1-30% of your limit.
  • Use credit sparingly.
  • Explore your options before applying for a credit card on a website such as http://www.nerdwallet.com/ or http://www.bankrate.com/
  • Always read all terms and conditions before you apply for a credit card.


Heidi Hilton
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling

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If You’re Broke, FIX It with These Smartphone Apps

Phone app developers know your time and money is important, so they created some apps for on the go. If you want to track spending, check your bank account, organize your expenses, find the best deals, or get coupons, it is available on your cell phone.


With Fixx, it’s easier than ever to increase your savings for tomorrow by keeping track of what you earn and spend today. Whether you spend money on bills, food, your dog Toto, or a coffee, Fixx makes it easy to organize your expenses and income. You can track your expenses month to month and look at your spending habits over a few years. You can even see how much you could save by cutting back some of your spending fixes.  The Fixx app is available for free on Android and iOS.

Virtual Wallet

Life is busy and it’s hard to stay on top of everything, especially your money. Virtual Wallet dials down the pressure. It’s a simple way to keep all your financial stuff in order and track it in one place.  With Virtual Wallet, you can track your everyday spending, set up short term savings for that summer trip coming up, and save long-term. Some features include overdraft protection, paying bills online, quick transfer of funds, and a bill due date organizer, where you can pay them directly from the app.  The Virtual Wallet app is available for free on Android and iOS.

Anza Money

Anza is a bookkeeping and money tracking application for your phone. Set budgets, schedule transactions, protect your pin code, and set up screen widgets in this free app.  Anza Money is available only on Android.


Mint is a user friendly budgeting tool that makes sense of your spending today and sets you up for success tomorrow. Set financial goals of monthly spending and get alerts when you are close to those budgets. The app knows the difference between a restaurant and a gas station, so you don’t have to spend time sorting your transactions. You can even receive free money tips for savings. All of this is just at the reach of your fingertips.  The Mint app is available for free on Android, iOS, and Windows.


Out with friends and need to split the bill? Tab helps you do this by adding each person in, scanning the check, and allocating who ordered what. Tab even allows you to enter in and split up the tip!  The Tab app is available for free on Android and iOS.


Retail Me Not saves you time and money when shopping. Find discounts in your area and get the best bang for your buck. Find coupons for most all stores and plan to save before you start shopping.  The RetailMeNot app is available for free on Android and iOS.


Scan the product’s bar code and instantly find the best deal around: it’s that easy. Use Redlaser to get the best deals. RedLaser partners with thousands of stores across the world to find you the best price so you can better allocate your money.  REDLaser is available for free on Android, iOS, and Windows.

Credit Karma

View your credit score along with what factors are determining it, how you can work towards improving it, and monitor for potential identity theft. This app lets you track your credit score so you can be proactive at making it the best it can be.  The Credit Karma app is available for free on Android and iOS.

In addition to the above-mentioned apps, you can also look to see if your bank, credit card companies, or student loan servicers have apps to use. This can aid you in knowing how much you have in your accounts at all times, deposit checks electronically, and pay your bills at the touch of your finger. Take back control of your finances from the convenience of your phone.

Saving money doesn’t have to be a hassle. With some user-friendly apps, you can be on your way towards better savings in no time.

Tyler Larson
Peer Counselor II
Powercat Financial Counseling

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Salt: K-State’s Free Financial Literacy Tool

SaltMoney.org is a free tool offered by K-State for its students and alumni. Powercat Financial Counseling has partnered with American Student Assistance to provide this service in order to enhance students’ understanding of finances such as student loans, credit, and budgeting, and to help with scholarship, internship, and job searches. Salt offers short online courses that can help you learn about various financial topics, a student loan repayment calculator, articles and blogs, and much more.

My Money 101

Do you know how to choose the right bank or how your credit score can keep you from getting hired at a job? Unfortunately most college classes don’t teach students about personal financial management. Luckily for K-State students, we all have access to Salt and its My Money 101 online interactive courses. These quick courses start with a pre-lesson survey, follow with an interactive lesson over a specific topic, and finish with an examination that awards you with a badge once you complete it. Topics range from budgeting to taxes to educational planning. My Money 101 courses aren’t just for people new to finances. Even if you have previous experience managing your money, there is definitely something you can learn through the online Salt courses.

Internship/Job Search

Salt also has a database with almost 50,000 internship and job positions from over 23,000 companies and the search tool lets you create custom searches based on criteria that matter to you. You are able to filter through searches and when you find something that interests you, Salt lets you upload your resume and apply for the position directly through their site. They even allow you to directly communicate with hiring managers. Additionally, students can also search for scholarships: nothing beats free money. Salt allows you another area to search for over 2.4 million scholarships totally over $14 billion dollars. Before you begin to search, Salt lets you plug information in that narrows the search down to scholarships that match your qualifications to help save you time. Salt’s search engines give you the opportunity to find even more opportunities to make you successful in college and beyond.

Student Loans

Salt is a great tool for understanding your student loan debt and how it will affect your finances in the future. First, you can upload your student loan information onto your account and even add in other debt from credit cards, car loans, etc… to be able to keep track of everything in one place. You can then pull your student loans into a repayment calculator that will show what your monthly payments will be based on the different repayment plans. There is a plethora of information regarding the different repayment plans, loan forgiveness, late payments, etc…  Another great perk of Salt is loan experts that students can call with questions they may have after graduation when they can no longer come into PFC.

Additionally, There are constantly articles and blogs being published on the site concerning anything related to financial management. However, it goes beyond money. There is plenty of help on interviewing, resumes, networking, and getting the most out of your internship. There is even a community area where you can post questions you have and peers can help answer. K-State has provided its students and alumni with a great tool to increase their financial literacy. It is easy and very quick to create a free account at saltmoney.org by putting Kansas State University as the school/organization.

If you’re looking through Salt and have any further questions or would like to meet with Powercat Financial Counseling concerning other financial topics, we would love to help out! You can schedule a free appointment on our website at www.k-state.edu/pfc/services.

Brady Heidrick
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling

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