Take a pass on official college credit cards

Pencils with ABC blocks

No matter how much you love your school, don't pick a card with its mascot or logo on it for your first credit card.

Chances are, you'll be offered one. Credit card companies sign lucrative contracts with schools to push university-themed cards.

But those official school cards are almost always a poor choice because of their lousy terms and high interest rates.

It seems the colleges are more interested in making money from their credit card deals than protecting their students.

We think that's unconscionable with seniors graduating with an average credit card debt of $4,100 in 2009, up from $2,900 in 2004, according to the most recent study by Sallie Mae.

College students need a card that has:

You'll find cards that meet all of those criteria and charge as little as 10.24% APR after the 0% introductory rate expiresn our picks for the best credit cards for college students.

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