As tempting as it may be to accept an on-campus credit card offer (it's convenient, after all!), here are four good reasons not to accept the first offer that comes along.

1- You have not shopped around to find the best credit card

Not all credit cards are alike or offer the same benefits, terms or interest rates. By accepting an on-campus credit card offer, you deny yourself the chance to choose the best card in view of your needs, ability to pay and lifestyle.

Insight

Solution: Take the time to comparison-shop several credit cards before making a decision. You can also use the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Credit Card Selector Tool This link will open in a new window.

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2- You still haven't prepared a budget

When you have a credit card, it’s very tempting to immediately go out and buy a new cell phone or a nice dinner out. You won’t be billed for it until the start of the following month, after all. But will you have enough savings or money in your budget (your income minus your current expenses) to pay the bill or make the necessary payments when the time comes?

Insight

Solution: At least go through the exercise of preparing a typical one-month budget. See if there’s any room in the budget to pay for the extra purchases you would like to put on your credit card. Use a calculator to find out how much an item would actually cost after you tack on interest.

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3- You already owe money on one or more credit cards

Don’t put yourself further into debt. Instead, adopt a strategy of paying back what you owe as quickly as possible.

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Solution: There are many organizations that can help you with this. Ask the student aid office at your educational institution, the Carrefour jeunesse emploi for your area, an association coopérative d'économie familiale (ACEF) or a service budgétaire populaire.

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4- I don't know if I’ve got a good credit report

Your credit report is like your financial report card. It shows your financial habits over an average of seven years. If you’ve ever been late on any payments, applied for several credit cards or left accounts unpaid, your credit card application could be denied, which would also end up on your credit report.

Insight

Solution: Request to see your credit report. It's free! Reviewing your credit report every two years to check your credit status, make certain it doesn’t contain any errors and be sure no one has tried to steal your identity is a good habit to get into. The next step is to take control of the situation: ask one of the organizations in point 3 to help you put your finances in order.

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