If you ask most 18 - 24 year olds what their life's most pressing worries are, chances are most of them will cite student debt somewhere near the top. However, while students continue to depend on large student loans to get them through their higher education, their rates of credit card usage are considerably lower than the national average: while 66% of Britian's population own a credit card, only 24% of 18-24 year olds do, and even fewer use their credit cards actively.
APACS, the UK Payments Association, has recently launched a credit card advice guide for students, called “Cards and Students", which aims to provide them with key facts and tips on how to manage responsible borrowing whilst at university. Along with full financial advice for new students, “Cards and Students" provides tips towards achieving good financial management; advice on protecting against fraud; and a list of ten questions to ask before choosing a credit card.
APACS initiative seems to have met a certain need in the student market; as the cost of living continues to spiral and the advent of top of fees this year causes even more financial pressure building up, this kind of scheme of financial advice targeted at a social group who sorely needs it is definitely a breakthrough. Sarah Quinn, APACS’ Director of Communications comments:
"This advice guide is designed as a quick and easy checklist for students. It provides information they need to make informed decisions about their personal finances and clearly explains the various card payment options available to them.
“Nowadays, most students expect to be in debt when they graduate and whilst it might be impossible to avoid student loan debt, getting a handle on managing your finances can make the world of difference. We have an important role to play in educating all people, not just students, about responsible borrowing and the benefits and risks of using plastic cards. "
While the rate of student debt is growing rapidly, students in Britain may perhaps be thankful that the national average student credit card usage in the UK is much smaller than that in the United States; a survey by Young Money magazine in 2002 concluded that the average American student owned three credit cards: at least 78% had at least one, and nearly 32% had four or more credit cards. Although the average British student's credit card debt is not quite this staggering, it does indicate the general direction in which credit card usage can spiral unless brakes are imposed.
While APACS guide gives much needed advice, a large number of credit card search and credit card comparison , such as Moneynet exist to provide consumers with enough data to make an informed choice about which credit card will be best for them. Britain's leading credit card companies, like Barclaycard also offer special student credit card packages, which often include deals that are designed to ease their financial burden, such as favourable payment plans on laptops and discount vouchers from a variety of high street shops.
Michael is a keen writer living in Edinburgh. Michael's Website: Taxis Belfast