Student Lines of Credit
Many banks offer student lines of credit or bank loans. A line of credit gives you access to a specific amount of money that you can withdraw as you need it. Interest is paid only on the money you withdraw.
Drawbacks to bank student loans:
- Payments - Unlike government student loans, bank loans and lines of credit require you to start paying interest right away. These payments need to be built into your budget.
- Co-Signer - Unless you're a mature student, banks will require a co-signer for your application. By co-signing, they are agreeing to be responsible for paying back the loan if you are unable to.
Most Canadian banks have information web pages geared specifically to students and their banking needs. They contain information on their services, such as lines of credit and student banking packages. Some also include budgeting tools and information on planning for your education, ways to keep your banking costs down, and more. Here are a few to get you started:
- BMO - The Student Centre
- CIBC Student Life
- Credit Union Atlantic
- East Coast Credit Union
- RBC Student Banking
- Scotiabank Student Credit
- TD Canada Trust Student Service
Bank line of credit tips
If you decide to take out a bank line of credit:
- Shop around. Find the bank that offers the best package for you.
- Negotiate. Don't be shy. If you like one bank over another, but find a better offer at another bank, ask your preferred bank to match it. Banks want your business. By negotiating, a bank employee gets to know your name and face, which can prove helpful if you run into problems.
- Know what you're agreeing to. Ask for a detailed explanation of loan terms in language you can understand. You should know exactly what they are giving you and how and when you are expected to make payments.
Use credit cards wisely
Banks want to give you credit cards because they make money from them. A student credit card is a useful tool. They're convenient, useful in emergencies and you can't rent a car without one. But if you use your credit card to finance a lifestyle you can't afford, you could wind up in big trouble. Using a credit card feels like spending "free" money, but remember, you'll have to pay for it some day