Students, or any first-time credit card user, know that it’s a fact of life that sometimes a new credit card will get lost or misplaced. To that end, many student credit cards have an added zero liability protection feature for any unauthorized purchases made on the card. While it’s not a perfect solution to the problem of lost or stolen credit cards, it does make student credit cards that much more attractive as a financial option for young people concerned about the problem.
Any teacher knows that students have a tendency to lose things. Students misplace their books, clothes, keys, iPods and just about anything they lay claim to. Even homework has been known to go missing. Credit cards for students tend to get misplaced, lost or stolen as well.
According to a recent study on student credit card use, students are now carrying credit cards in record numbers. Up to 83% of all college students as of 2001 carry a credit card. This fact certainly won’t change any time soon. Given the current availability of online shopping opportunities for students and young people from textbooks on Amazon to music on iTunes, along with the convenience of paying with a credit card, it’s unlikely that student credit card use will subside any time soon.
But understanding how widespread student credit card use is leads to the unavoidable conclusion that lost credit cards, particularly by students, are inevitable. And with all of the concern recently regarding identity theft and ever-more prevalent financial fraud, a lost credit card can potentially become a very big issue.
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Fortunately, most student credit cards currently available offer a decent solution. Often times, students do not have much experience with independent finances and real-world financial decision making. So putting a credit card in the inexperienced hands of someone with a wide variety of expenses that might include school books, clothes, food, gas, pizza, and entertainment may not seem like a wise idea, even considering the number of seemingly attractive options offered by some of the best student credit cards. Nevertheless, before you apply for a student credit card, either for yourself or for your favorite student, it’s best to ensure that the cardholder has a firm grasp of some simple principles of budgeting and financial responsibility. But there’s one feature built into student credit cards that can provide protection and peace of mind, which is zero financial liability in the case of unauthorized use.
According to the Electronic Protection Act, credit card companies are allowed to charge liability fees on unauthorized charges made on any credit card up to fifty dollars. This holds true as long as you notify the credit card company within 30 days that the card is either missing or stolen. Once you notify the company, you can’t be assessed any more penalties for charges made on your card, but all charges up to $50 made before you let the card issuer know that your card is missing will have to come out of your pocket.
Many of the top student credit cards, however, will not apply that minimum liability charge, assuming that you report the card lost or stolen within thirty days. Admittedly, this isn’t a perfect solution to the problem of identity theft or unauthorized card use, and you may still face non-financial repercussions in the future for any purchases made on your card. But before you or your favorite student gets used to carrying a credit card for the first time (as many student credit cards are), there are bound to be a few careless misplacements. And it’s nice to know that credit card issuers have taken this fact of life into account regarding student credit cards.
So yes, students may lose things, and unscrupulous people on campus just might try to take advantage of this fact. But with a good student credit card (and, of course, a dose of financial realism to temper it), unauthorized charges and identity theft becomes much less of a problem to worry about — although you’ll still have to find your homework.
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