Credit cards and kids

Just because your children are too young to be cardholders doesn’t mean they are too young to get an education in the how’s and why’s of credit cards. Experts advise sharing the rules of credit cards early with your kids, before they ever have a credit card.   

Credit card offers addressed to a son or daughter may come well before they turn 18. Once your kids begin to receive credit card offers in the mail, it’s a good time to speak to your children about them. Going over a credit card statement with your offspring can allow you to explain things like an interest rate, a card’s fees, and what happens if you go over the limit or are late with a payment. You can help them to understand that what they charge with a credit card will have to be paid back and that they should always make more than the minimum monthly payments.   

Additionally, it is important to stress that a credit card should be used as a convenience, such as when you don’t carry much cash or for emergencies.  It’s good to tell your kids that credit cards are not for small, regular expenses like paying for pizza or movies.   

Teach your kids that they should try not charge more than can be paid back at the end of the month, with very few exceptions such as vacations, which should be paid back within 12 months.   

With your helpful guidance, by the time your children turn 18, provided they are responsible enough, start them on a credit card with a low line of credit.  Experts suggest that it is better for kids to learn the ins-and-out of credit cards and money management with a low limit card while living at home (with their parents around to step in if necessary) rather than later on when they are struggling with the demand of college or their first job.  There are a number of credit card options to help young people establish and build credit available from  And, if your child will be attending an accredited four-year college or university, the options for student credit cards are many. 

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Updated: 03-24-2019