As you are about to head abroad for studies, did you take into consideration how you would cover your expenses? Of what use is a degree abroad if all you ever got to do was study and work part-time and never quite experience the flavor of the place in your study life? Sure it helps to have a part-time job to take care of your basic expenses but the best possible option for an international student is an international credit card.
Now many universities offer students various options of international student credit cards and even otherwise, if you had to take your own pick, all you need to do is choose wisely. Credit cards prove easy for shopping and saves you from the bother of carrying around money at all times. However, splurgers be warned: they could turn out to be quite a disaster and push you into an ocean of debt if you let your credit card usage spiral out of control.
Here are a few pointers that you should keep in mind during the selection of your credit card.
Policies and Fees
The thing that you must be most aware of as an international credit card user is if the card charges you for foreign currency conversion or not. Even if they have a small percentage, usually around 3%, for the conversion of foreign currency, it could turn out to be a bomb in case you just made a big purchase with your card. This is why you must take the time out to go through your credit card agreement well. You must read the policies that they have in place, the fees they charge for transactions and delays, the annual percentage rate, and credit limits.
The most important factor to help you determine which credit card you want to opt for is the interest rate it has. It goes without saying that the lower the interest, the more appealing the credit card proves to be. An APR or annual percentage rate of less than 12% is what international students should be looking at. Anything higher than that is not advisable and would mean you having to pay back far more than what you swiped the card for.
Students would be well-advised to go for a credit card with a PIN or a Personal Identification Number as many countries worldwide don’t accept credit cards with just the magnetic strip. In the absence of the PIN number, there is no way of punching in the credit card’s number into the machine manually.
Don’t get lured into getting a credit card just because of all the fancy rewards it offers! It’s always safest to go for a basic international credit card and try and build a good credit history. Make sure your credit reports are well managed and when you know you can handle your credit well, go for the higher version credit cards that promise you gifts and rewards. The basic logic behind usage of the credit card is: if you can’t afford it with your debit card, then you probably shouldn’t even be swiping your credit card for it in the first place!
Managing Your Budget
The ideal way to use the credit card is by having a clear plan of what circumstances you are going to use it under and stick to it. If you’ve decided to use it only in case of emergencies, make sure you don’t make too many impulsive purchases because once these start piling up, the interest rates will compound the initial value to a much higher one and finally affect your credit report as well.
All credit cards come with a credit limit and this means that you take your credit card shopping seriously. Make sure you don’t cross your limit, for every time you do, it will reflect badly on your credit score. Refrain from withdrawing money from the credit card, which is a possibility in many cases, as this will come with a payback of a ridiculously high interest rate!
Sign Up For Free!
When there are more than a hundred credit cards that let you sign up for free, why go for one that charges you for setting up of an account and for maintenance? Consider first the ones that have no other charges besides the ones you have to pay for, for having used it. In all the haste to get a good one, you might overlook this simple factor!
Popular Credit cards for international students in the USA:
• Citi Platinum Select MasterCard
• Citi mtvU Platinum Select Visa Card for College Students
• Citi Dividend Platinum Select Card for College Students
• Discover Student Card
Some picks for students in the UK:
• Saga Platinum
• Nationwide Select Credit Card
• Halifax Rewards Clarity Credit Card
• Metro Bank Personal Credit Card
International students in Australia should consider these:
• ANZ First Visa Credit Card
• Commonwealth Bank Low Fee Credit Card
• St. George Vertigo
Make your pick after thorough exploration. As long as you are the type that knows how to exercise control over your budget and plans well, you have no worries about drowning in credit card debts! You are in the best place to decide whether you need one or not; once you have one, make sure you swipe wisely!
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