Credit cards & college kids

College life is not what it used to be. The explosion in consumer credit of the past several years has swamped college campuses with offers for easy credit. Even the recent financial crisis hasn't slowed the trend. If you're a young adult between the ages of 18 and 25 - college student or not - you are the prime target for credit card marketing ploys. So be careful. Credit cards can be a rough and tumble business.

If you want to know what credit cards are all about, watch this short video. It's funny, but very instructive. And while you watch, think about the following facts from a survey recently published by Sallie Mae titled How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards:

  • 84% of college students have credit cards.
  • Half of all undergraduates have four or more credit cards.
  • The average credit balance for undergraduate students is $3,173; the median is $1,645.
  • Almost 40% of incoming freshman already have a credit card before they arrive on campus.
  • Only 17% paid off their credit card balance each month; 1% had parents or spouses paying the bill; 82% carried balances from month-to-month.
  • 60% experienced surprise at how high their balance had grown.
  • 84% indicated they needed more education on financial management.