(NC) Heading off to college or university for the first time is exciting. And just like choosing classes, a student has important choices to make when it comes to their finances.

As a parent, you may be helping your children with money matters, whether it’s with financial support or looking over their budget and loans to make sure they’re on the right track. If a credit card is part of their plan, there are a few things to consider.

Many students get their first credit cards during university or college. And this is no accident. Banks often outsource the sale and promotion of credit cards on campuses to third-party sellers who may entice students with free giveaways and promotions.

You should know that these third-party companies must respect rules designed to protect consumers. For instance, they cannot issue a credit card without getting an explicit approval. Communications with consumers must be clear and must not mislead consumers to believe they are agreeing to a promotion or reward like a t-shirt or reward points, rather than a financial product or service.

Before signing up for any credit card, students should read the terms and conditions and ask questions. Here are some tips:

  • Ask about interest rates.
  • Ask about any other fees or charges.
  • Ask about cancelling the product or service.
  • Ask about the complaint process in the event of a problem.
  • Never feel pressured to say yes on the spot.
  • Shop around and compare options with different banks. You can use the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s online credit card comparison tool to do this.
  • Keep a copy of all documentation in case you need it to reference or to launch a complaint if there’s a problem.

There are advantages to young adults having a credit card, such as convenient access to funds, and learning important lessons about financial management. However, students need to know that applying for a credit product, increasing their credit limit, or failing to pay their balance can affect their credit score, which could impede their ability to rent an apartment or buy a car.

Find more information online at canada.ca/it-pays-to-know.