Archive | Finance RSS feed for this section

Credit Cards and Teens: A good or a bad idea?

15 Sep

Teens were described by one parent as “hormones in basketball shoes”. Indeed, teens can be wild and unpredictable. A popular old Beach Boys tune describes how a teenager skipped school to drive fast in her father’s T-Bird convertible car, and many parents know from personal experience that teens often “do their own thing” with or without parental permission. So when it comes to empowering them with a credit card, the controversy rages. Some say it is a terrible idea, because kids who lack financial smarts and fiscal discipline will abuse the credit card and create havoc with their parents’ good credit and household budget. Others support the teen point of view, however, and point to the fact that teens who are given responsibility at an early age often grow up to be more responsible adults.

The jury is still out on which point of view is correct, and many of us think that there is truth in both of those viewpoints. Yes, kids tend to be rather irresponsible as teenagers, especially with money. But on the other hand, those who learn to handle money wisely do evolve into more budget-minded grown-ups. The good news is that no matter which side you agree with, the credit card companies themselves have devised some awesome ways to make credit cards work just fine for teens.

For example, some credit card companies allow you to give your child his or her own credit card, and to put whatever amount of money on the card you decide is appropriate. For instance, you might send your kid on a long weekend with friends, and provide a credit card with a spending limit of $40, to help your child in case of an emergency. Once the $40 is spent, the card cannot be used. This kind of spending limit option gives you good control over your teen’s credit card budget and spending.

Other features available are designed to help you monitor your teen’s credit card use. For instance, some cards will automatically email you and alert you if your teen has used the card to purchase something in an adult establishment such as a bar or nightclub.

If you have teenagers and want to give them the security and convenience of a credit card without increased liability or potential for problems, visit your bank or call your credit card company. You may be pleasantly surprised at some of the cool features that card companies offer to help you support your teen without supporting misbehavior. In fact, judging from all the smart features now marketed by credit card companies, it would seem that the people who run those credit card companies also have teenagers.