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Can Your High School Student Have a Credit Card?
Most credit cards for students are designed for college students—but can high school students get them? The short answer is: yes. The long answer would involve a lot of discussion!
As teenagers, many went out and found their first job, or otherwise earned income from stipends or babysitting. Now is an opportune time for parents to help them learn the basics of money management; something many families ignore; sending graduating high school students on to college or into the “real world” with little real-world financial literacy.
Just a few short years ago, not only was it almost impossible to get a credit card for a teenager, but it would have been considered a little crazy to do so! Times have changed though, and there are a variety of teen-friendly credit cards on the market that parents can use to help them learn the basics of financial responsibility.
Teen credit cards include features like parental controls and digital “perks”. Giving your child a credit card might be a sweaty experience, but it’s a great educational financial experience for your child—before it’s too late, you help them become financially responsible:
Teach them good credit. With so many adults currently struggling to rebuild their credit or increase their income to make it easier to keep up with their monthly payments, it’s never too early to teach teens how to manage their money. Teaching them when they are young can prevent them from overspending after independence. Nellie Mae claims that the average college student has over $1,500 in credit card debt; once students realize how easy it is to “get what they want now,” they will make a habit of using them to buy what they want while in college. If teens enter the adult world with solid money management skills, they are less likely to end up in debt.
your choice. If you’re not worried about your teen building a credit history at this point and just want a way to teach the basics of money management, you can look for prepaid debit cards with the Visa or MasterCard logo. Some of these cards may have an annual fee or transaction fee – this just gives you another chance to show how using a credit card is different than buying with cash. You can also register your child for a checking account with a debit card; or make them an authorized user of your existing account – or open a new low limit credit card account and make your child the cardholder.
Get teens access to emergency funds. When your child becomes a teenager, chances are they will start spending more time away from you, alone or with friends. Sometimes they may need cash – if the car breaks down, they need to be towed off the highway, or make a long-distance call. Having a credit card in their pocket will allow them to handle emergencies that require money, and it can provide you with added peace of mind.
If you decide you’re ready to teach your teen the basics of money management and credit, be sure to spend some time investigating the various options available to you before choosing one. No matter which path you choose, you want to make sure you spend enough time with your child and not expect them to know what to do! Try using a service like Citibank’s Credit-Ed program: http://www.citi.com/us/cards/cm/student/index.htm
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