The recession, tighter credit standards, and federal regulations -- namely the 2009 Credit Card Responsibility and Disclosure Act -- have fueled a decline in the number of college students using credit cards. Usage dropped to 35 percent last year from 40 percent in 2011 and 42 percent in 2010, according to a Sallie Mae survey. At the same time, more and more college students have turned to debit cards -- with twice as many taking this option over credit cards in 2012. Because they limit spending to what is available in the user's bank account, debit cards are viewed as a better alternative to unsecured credit line cards. However, students who have learned to handle their finances responsibly should consider opening up a credit card as a way to establish a positive credit history that will allow for favorable borrowing rates on other loans and products down the road.