Cut to the chase! Is the offer hot or not?!
Credit Card Basics and Background 

Are you feeling inundated with offers? Like most college students your mailbox is filled with solicitations. Card companies desperately want new business because the traditional adult market is saturated. As you know, credit cards make money charging high interest rates, but what you may not know is that companies also make money from the merchant that you use the card at! Typically, merchants are charged between 2.5 to 4.0% which really adds up for card companies. 

The best way to wade through the offers is to go straight to the disclosure box. It tells you annual fees, your interest rate, grace period, penalty fees and more! It's required by law and it looks like this: 

Annual Fee    None
Annual Percentage Rate   17.9% variable
Grace Period   25 Days
Balance Calculation Method   Average Daily Balance
Other Fees   $15 late payment fee
  $15 over the limit fee
  2% cash advance fee

Most of the terms are self-explanatory. What is somewhat tricky is "grace period". The 25 days only applies if you do not have a balance on your account. Basically, that means that if you have a balance, you have to pay interest on new purchases right away. 

In the next few sections, you will learn how to minimize interest expenses, qualify yourself for a lower interest rate card, and avoid common pitfalls students fall into. 

Next, we'll explain what good credit is EXACTLY...