Students need not rely on mom or dad’s credit cards to purchase school supplies or go out on weekends. Through USF’s Alumni Association, students can apply for one of their own and start building a line of credit.
Having and using the card, according to Alumni Association President Lisa Lewis, helps support alumni programs such as the Student Ambassador Program, the Legislative Internship program, scholarships, the Great Books Series and Homecoming.
“By helping the Alumni Association, it helps USF. Students benefit from the internships ad programs such as the Ambassador program. It helps us fulfill our mission. The institution is helped through a strong Alumni Association,” Lewis said.
The Alumni Association credit card has been helping the Alumni Association since 1987, when it was first introduced. A new version of the credit card has been provided now that banking company MBNA handles the account. Chase Bank handled the account until July 2005, when the contract expired. Jim Donahue, spokesman for MBNA, said that the large student base and number of alumni, as well as the entrance of USF into the Big East, were factors in the decision to take over the account.
According to Donahue, the Alumni Association earns royalties based on the number of people holding and using the card.Professor of finance Ken Wieand cautioned that students should research the card and bank policies before applying, especially those relating to credit card and identity theft.
“Do research. If someone is knowledgeable and astute about credit cards, they can use them for a lot of things such as receiving flier miles, reward points and rebates. Some people do come out ahead,” Wieand said.He also recommends spending a significant amount of time working out a budget before applying for a card.
In order to help students learn how to use credit wisely, MBNA provides resources such as Smartcredittips.com. Among other features, the site discusses what credit is, why it’s necessary and what a credit report is. There are also links to sites for national student discounts and coupons to use.
“Responsible use of credit can help individuals build a strong credit rating, which will help them achieve other life goals down the road such as buying a car and a home,” Lewis said.
Wieand agreed, but urged moderation and smart spending.
“The idea of establishing credit is reasonable, but if you overspend on the card and don’t make payments on time, you end up undoing what you wanted to do. It’s all about choices. If people are ignorant about credit cards they can get themselves in a lot of trouble. You have to evaluate what you’re doing and what’s involved.”
More information on the card can be found at the Alumni Association Web site, USFalumni.net.