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SAIT students beware, take care with credit cards

The Financial Consumer Agency (FCAC) recently launched a campaign to inform Canadians about their financial rights and responsibilities, with a focus on students.

FCAC is a federal agency established in 2001 that is responsible for protecting consumers of financial services and products.

FCAC has launched a campaign to improve Canadians’ lending literacy, motivated by a national survey conducted by marketing research and consulting firm Ipsos, indicating that nearly a quarter of young Canadians are unaware that they must agree clearly before a bank can issue them a credit card.

Lucie Tedesco, FCAC commissioner, published a blog post, as part of the FCAC campaign, in which he advised students to read the terms and conditions, and ask questions before they agree to a credit card offer.

“No matter how you receive an offer, you need to be informed and savvy,” Tedesco wrote.

When considering a credit card, one should ask about interest rates, fees or charges, and cancellation policies, according to federal recommendations.

If you are offered a credit card, never feel pressured to say yes on the spot, and instead shop around and compare options with different banks. If you do sign up, keep a copy of all documentation in case there’s a problem in the future.

The FCAC also provides a variety of resources for budgeting for student life, working to pay for education, and paying back student debt, available on their website.

There are various funding options available for students, and getting a credit card is often not advised, said Aura Quintanilla, financial advising team lead with the Lamb Learner Success Centre at SAIT.

“[Students] need to realize that they are going to be poor for the time that they are in school,” said Quintanilla.

When students need access to funds, a line of credit often has a lower interest rate than a traditional credit card, but the best option for students is to learn to budget their money, she said.

“That is the biggest problem we see, when students don’t have a good sense of how to save and keep the money, and divide it for the entire semester,” Quintanilla said.

Students often spend all their loan money on unnecessary trips and eating out without a sense of their monthly expenses, but if they learn to spend wisely and make informed decisions about credit cards, they can pay back their debt, said Quintanilla.

Samantha Fixter, a student in the SAIT Railway Conductor program, said she has a credit card as well as a student loan to help pay for her education and other expenses.

“I got [a credit card] by using my parents credit score from their credit card, since we have the same bank that we used for the credit card,” said Fixter.

Fixter said she went into the program with a budget plan and follows it by limiting what she spends on other than tuition and course material, and relies on her parents’ support.

“My parents help me with the payments,” she added.

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