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 Message from our Chairman 

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Starting college is a big moment in a young person's life. The beginning of a new chapter in life, getting a first taste of adulthood, assuming new responsibilities, are all part of it. Taking on debt that can affect an entire lifetime shouldn't be considered lightly.

That's why IBC Bank participates in the American Bankers Association Community Engagement Foundation's Get Smart About Credit program. Now in its 13th year, this national campaign of volunteer bankers helps people develop responsible credit habits. In 2014, IBC Bank delivered financial literacy training to nearly 3,000 people through the initiative. IBC Bank representatives held more than 80 training sessions at 32 locations throughout Texas and Oklahoma. We care about educating young people and teaching children from kindergarten through college on how to manage money. It’s important that we also show new college freshman how to safely build credit without creating debt that could haunt them for years.

The CARD Act of 2009 eliminated many of the financial landmines college students used to step on, but there are still some out there. No one under 18 can be pre-approved for a credit card anymore, and even 20-year-olds must have either proof of income or a co-signer. Even with those changes, it's easy for financially naive teenagers, fresh out of high school, to make mistakes with high-interest credit cards that could damage their credit standing in the future.

Young adults, just graduating from high school, aren't likely to have any credit history. Having no credit score is almost as bad as having a poor credit score. Because they are considered a higher risk, first-time, college-age credit card applicants are likely to pay retail-level interest rates of up to 21-24 percent. That's a very expensive way to learn a lesson about credit management.

That's why "pay it off" is the golden rule of credit card management. Don't let the convenience of a credit card turn into the money trap of only paying the minimum amount due. That's a sure way to end up over your head. For example, paying the minimum on a $1,000 balance on a card with a 21.4 percent APR will result in more than seven years of payments and an outlay of nearly $1,950 for the convenience of "borrowing" $1,000.

Almost everyone needs credit at some time. Someday getting a mortgage, or even financing a used car to get to class, is going generate a credit check. College is the time to build a financial foundation that can last a lifetime. One credit card, used sparingly and always kept at a zero balance, can create the positive credit history bankers and mortgage lenders love.

There are some expenses even the most conservative college student can't avoid like textbooks for example. Buying those books online can be a good idea. In that situation, a credit card can make the transaction possible.

Every credit decision is different. Signing up for a credit card is no exception. Young people taking that first step into the world of finances should do so carefully, with a basic understanding of how interest works and the discipline to use their credit responsibly and with an eye on the future. Stop by your local IBC bank to learn more about your credit options or visit our consumer credit card site online to compare options.