We’re probably as surprised as you that it’s already “back to school” time in so many places, for so many students. Aren’t we still a few weeks away from our Labor Day barbecues!?

Nonetheless, if you’ve seen the sales on binders, slide rules, calculators, pencils, and classic books like “Catch-22” and “Animal Farm,” and the requisite volumes of Shakespeare (it’s still summery enough for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”), then you know that the three R’s, as grammatically incorrect as they may be, are lurking close at hand.

“Back to school” also brings with it a lot of talk about money management, and “first credit cards,” if the student in question is going off to college for the first time. What are the best ways to get Susie to manage her money, and perhaps the first credit cards she has on her own, when she’s away from the nest?

As a “Money Management Tips for College-Bound Students” article on the Lowcards.com site notes, the first thing to recall is that getting credit cards (as opposed to debit cards, which a student could also have on her family’s bank accounts back home), is harder now for students.

“Three years ago, the CARD Act made it harder for college students to get credit cards,” the article says. “The legislation prohibited issuers from luring college students to apply for a credit card by offering free pizza or t-shirts. Today, a young adult under the age of 21 can get a student credit card if he or she has a co-signer, or has proof of enough income to make payments. Co-signing should only be an option if your student can use a credit card responsibly. Otherwise, a late payment by the student also shows up on the co-signer’s credit report.”

As an alternative, the article suggests debit cards, which can be issued to anyone with a checking account, but reminds readers that they can’t be used to build credit scores. There’s a third option, as well: “Some prepaid cards are now presented as alternatives to checking accounts with direct deposit, bill payment and ATM withdrawal.” And “Prepaid cards don’t charge interest rates,” but of course, card-buyers need to be mindful of fees.

Of course, as an article on the same subject in the Fremont Tribune has another good point about those aforementioned accounts: “College may be the first time many students have their own checking accounts. Teach them how to balance a checkbook; to understand the importance of writing down all checks, ATM withdrawals and debit card transactions; and help them to understand the difference between a debit card and a credit card.”

And of course, if the school year means you need to get ready for another influx of customers, or if it’s time to upgrade some of the payment services you offer — including offering prepaid cards — don’t hesitate to give your AVPS rep a call.

They’re here for you, whether it’s back-to-class time, spring break — or any other time!