Credit cards, credit scores topic of discussion at Carter County Library

Many college students struggle with student debt immediately after graduating college, and for many Americans, these troubles can impact the rest of their lives, often with disastrous results.

As part of the Elizabethton/Carter County Library’s series of financial literacy programs, Kathy Campbell of the Northeast Community Credit Union will be coming to the library Thursday to discuss debt and understanding credit scores.

Adult Services and Outreach Coordinator Maryann Owen said the series of programs is a nation-wide program many local libraries take part in.

“We decided to do three events this month,” Owen said.

“Understanding your Credit Score” is the third of these events, preceded by Legal Aid of East Tennessee’s presentation on debt management on April 3 and the library’s program about fraud on April 6.

In this week’s program, Owen said Campbell will be discussing common misconceptions about credit card debt, particularly about the usefulness of debt in the first place.

“You have to have debt,” she said. “[Credit cards] can certainly get you in trouble, but they can float you through tough situations, too.”

She said understanding the difference between a score of 600 and 800 can sometimes make a sizable difference in the amount of interest on a loan payment, or even if you can take out a loan at all.

“It impacts everything you buy,” Owen said.

This can extend even into opening and closing credit cards entirely, as Owen said she had to think about how her score would be affected before she decided to close one of her cards she no longer used.

On the flip-side, excess spending on a card can be just as bad.

“It is easy to open a credit card without realizing you are responsible for paying it,” Owen said.

She said some of these misconceptions come from the amount of credit card offers college students get in the mail.

“I know a few people who finally gave in, and they regretted it,” she said.

The informational program will take place Thursday, April 11, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the library, located at 201 N. Sycamore St.

She said she wanted to stress the event is 100 percent free and open to the public.

“I always advise people to come,” Owen said. “Last year, I thought I pretty much knew all about debt, and I had lots of ‘Ah-ha!’ moments.”

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