Opening a credit card in college may be helpful in many ways, both now and later on. Credit cards can unlock a future of financial possibilities — from renting cars to securing your first apartment. Not only that, having access to credit can help students learn about fiscal responsibility and money management.

Used responsibly, credit cards can help set you up for financial success in the long term. College can be a time of growing into an independent, responsible adult and proper credit card management can be a part of that growth. Students interested in getting their own credit cards may want to consider these benefits:

1. You Can Build a Credit History

While you can build a credit history relatively quickly, it may take three to six months after you open a credit card before a credit score can be calculated, according to Experian. It’s commonplace to want to only use your student credit card for smaller expenses in the beginning, but understand that you are building a relationship with your credit card company that shows other credit issuers that you are reliable and responsible. It can be a good idea to pay your bills on time and in full, and keep your balance low. That way, when you’re ready to apply for a higher credit limit or a card with different benefits, you’ll already have a track record as a good credit card customer.

2. You Can Get on a Budget

Having a credit card as a student can teach you powerful lessons about paying your bills on time and creating a budget. Some credit cards allow you to track what you spend and organize transactions by type on their websites and mobile apps; that way, you can easily see where your money is going. Learning the skills of budgeting and scheduling bill payments may help you later in life when you’re managing bigger dreams and likely, more money.

3. You Can Enjoy Rewards and Cash Back

Certain credit cards allow you to earn rewards, points or cash back for a variety of things. For example, The Discover it Chrome card for students allows you to earn 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically, plus unlimited 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. Another option includes the Discover it Student Cash Back card, which allows you to earn 5 percent cash back at different places each quarter, like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or wholesale clubs (up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate, plus unlimited 1 percent cash back on all other purchases). While it might take a while to establish credit and get on a budget, earning credit card rewards is something that can have a quick payoff.

4. You Can Handle Emergencies

Cars need repairs. Computers need fixing. Smartphones get dropped. Life happens. It’s reassuring to know that in the event of a real emergency, a credit card can cover expenses. This benefit might help you — and your parents — feel a little more secure when you’re far from home.

5. You Can Get Help Renting Your First Apartment

Most rental applications require a credit check, and a student credit card with a strong track record of repayment can help identify you as a responsible young adult and potential good tenant. It may bolster your rental application and help ensure that you snag the apartment of your dreams.

6. You Can Travel Abroad More Easily

Chances are, you’ll need a credit card to book a hotel, but even if that’s not the case, it might be a good idea while traveling to have more than one way to pay for food, souvenirs and whatever Hawaiian snorkeling adventure or city bus tour your heart desires. And earning rewards like airlines miles can make those trips even more enjoyable.

7. You Can Track Your Credit Score

One of the things you’ll need to do as an adult is track and manage your credit score. Some student credit cards give you access to your credit score for free, providing you a simple way of keeping tabs on your credit standing. Discover’s Free Credit Scorecard shows you an overview of your credit in seconds.** And bonus: There’s no cost or “ding” to your credit.

8. You Can Help Avoid Fraud and Identity Theft

Worried about some scammer stealing your hard-earned cash and trashing your good name? Well, paying with a credit card makes it easier to avoid fraud and monitor unauthorized purchases. According to the Federal Trade Commission, regularly checking your bills online may help catch and prevent fraud, so it can be a good habit to start early.

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