Some situations require different reactions in different circumstances and deciding when and if a child needs a credit card, is one of those. There are all kinds or reasons pro and con. Explore your reasons and what the situation demands and choose wisely. Like it or not, your child most likely will obtain some plastic at some time in her life. You may want to introduce these while you still have her under your influence to help navigate this potentially dangerous territory.
From the Foundation Up
In this day and time, it is nearly a foregone conclusion that at some time in a person’s life, he will get a credit card. Legally you must be 18 in order to open an account. Prior to that time, mom and dad may decide to put Junior on their account before then. Credit cards are a very necessary evil. Having credit is what builds a credit history, and having a credit history is important if young people ever wish to buy a house, and for other things too.
One reason for a child to have a credit card, especially away from home at college, is for emergencies. All sorts of things can come up when you are far from home, especially if your child has his car at college. At all times when teaching kids to be responsible with credit always emphasize paying the balance in full every month. In fact, this is how to teach your kids to be responsible with credit and how to build credit. Let’s say you have had your child apply for and get a student credit card. To build credit, have her buy gas or some other small items and pay on time. By the time she gets out of school, she will have an excellent credit rating.
Many people get into deep debt with credit cards and can make a mess of their credit score. It is essential to teach your kids what can happen if they pile up a big credit card balance that they are unable to pay off every month. Guide them through the terms on their credit card and how much interest they will have to pay if they don’t pay in full. Tell them how fast the debt can pile up and how they could wind up paying far more for an item charged in the long run.
On Your Own
At some point, usually once college is over, it’s time to launch your child into financial freedom. By this time, they should be ready to handle their credit alone. Mom and dad can’t be always looking over their shoulder. Discuss this in advance so they won’t be blind-sided, that when they graduate you will be allowing them to handle their own finances, including credit cards.
It is never too early to begin teaching children good spending habits and how to handle money. Any child can learn the basics of saving money, beginning with gifts of money. Set up a savings account and encourage children to save part and spend part. Once kids began to get an allowance, you can use the same strategy of saving part. If you want to start teaching kids about credit for some purchase they do not have the money for by either allowing them to purchase using your credit card or an advance on their allowance. When the statement comes, they will have to pay you out of their allowance. If they do not pay in full, add interest and penalties so they can see how fast credit can go wrong.
Give your kids a healthy relationship with money and credit. It’s never too early, or too late to start.