Nowadays teenagers want everything that adults have: iPhones, cars and credit cards. They consider plastics as a symbol of long-wanted maturity and unlimited purchasing power. But the lack of credit card management skills can lead them into financial troubles. Trying to protect their kids, many parents hold out on helping their children apply for a credit card. However, many financial experts say that one of the smartest things you can do as a parent is to assist your kids in obtaining a credit card in the late teenage years, and then help them understand how to use it wisely.
Trying to find proper educational tools, many parents offer their kids less "harmless" types of plastics - debit or prepaid credit cards. On the one hand, it can be a smart decision if you want your teen to stay debt free. On the other hand, how will you teach your kids to use a computer by giving them a typewriter?
Debit or prepaid credit cards can be tricky. Kids may think that they can spend all the money on the card and never pay it back. Moreover, these plastics don't require teens to make timely payments and don't accumulate interest. So when the kids get older, they won't know better about real credit cards.
If you want your child get prepared to the world we live in, getting a credit card is necessary. However, if you just hand it to your kid and see what happens, it's a bad idea. Parental guidance is necessary for teens to avoid costly mistakes and manage their finances responsibly. Experts recommend sharing the rules of credit card management with your children before they obtain their first plastic. The teens who have discussed credit card features and options with their parents are more likely to select the best credit card offers for their situation and use them appropriately.
The main guideline to teach your kids financial responsibility is to tell them basic how's and why's of credit cards. If you don't know what to start from, just show them your credit card statement. It will help you explain things like interest rates, fees, and what happens if you max out your credit card limit or miss a payment.
The next step is to explain kids that credit cards are not free money. They have to pay back their credit card balance. So it is important not to spend more than can be paid back at the end of the month. Large charges, for example travel expenses, should be covered within a calendar year. Kids need always make more than the minimum monthly payments if they want to eliminate their debt sooner.
Explain your child what FICO score means and how it is calculated. The kids should understand that their first credit card provides an opportunity to build a positive credit history and ensure their successful financial life.
With your helpful guidance, the children will be ready to get their first credit card and put the new knowledge into practice. It's better for kids to learn the ins-and-out of credit cards and money management while they are under your roof. You will be able to step in if it is necessary and give advice.