Does Your Teen Need a Credit Card?

Do you have a teen who’s leaving for college soon? If you do, you may be facing the dilemma of whether or not they need a credit card for emergencies. Michelle Singletary, a financial writer for the Washington Post says no.

Parents gave her reasons for students needing a credit card like the following: the need to rent a motel room if they become stranded somewhere, the possibility of a car breaking down or just needing gas, the difficulty in getting a credit card after getting out of school, if they haven’t had one before. She addressed each of those issues separately, and gave good, solid reasons why students didn’t need credit cards for those things.

Some motels do rent rooms without a card. Get your student into an auto club for emergencies, instead of giving them a credit card. After graduation, a person can begin to build a credit history by starting out with a small retail account, and then moving on to a major credit card company. These are good, strong points involving not giving a teen a credit card. Then, there’s the major one-the fact that many, many college students will max out the card and there’ll be a huge debt for either you or them to pay!

My best friend is facing that dilemma with her daughter, who’s about to go away to college. She read all the good points, knew there were ways to get around using credit cards, and was worried about her daughter charging too much. In the end, she still gave her a credit card.

In a couple of years, when my daughter goes away to school, I’ll probably do the same. I think it’s something to do with the fanatical need, as a parent, to know that your child is safe. I’d rather give my daughter a credit card than think about her being stranded and having her out hunting around for a motel that rents rooms for cash. I’d rather my daughter have a credit card than think of her out stranded somewhere waiting for an auto club tow truck that might be a lot farther away than the nearest garage. And what if she has run out of cash, or has lost it?

Because of her good credit history, my best friend was able to get a card with a low interest rate that only her daughter will use. Since no one else will be using the account, it should be very simple to keep up with how much her daughter charges. And if she starts charging too much, or charging unnecessary things, the card can be taken away.

It’s up to the individual parents whether or not to give their teen a credit card. In my own case, my daughter may not really need a card. But I need her to have one for my own peace of mind! My paranoia’s showing!

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