It isn’t easy to stand up and say yes to an issue that can very well be precieved in a different manner then I intend. There is often an image that goes along with teens who have credit cards and it isn’t a good one. However, that image isn’t what I had in mind when I said yes the question, “Should teens have credit cards”. In order to understand completely you must read through my entire reasoning.
What I Am Not Saying Yes To.
I am not saying yes to a kid with a plastic addiction. I am not saying yes to the kid who uses his or her parent’s credit cards on a whim and charging it all to their parents bills. I am not saying yes for the emergency card that the teen then decides to use to buy a new dress, shoes, and make over for a party or dance because it is an “emergency”. All these things hurt a teen and don’t prepare them for the future and for dealing with their own credit.
Learning to Deal With Credit.
Often teens go out into the real world and get hit up by credit cards all over the place as they enter college. Many get the card thinking they will save it for an emergency or they will use it to build credit. Then something comes up and it becomes easier and easier to use the plastic card and pay the ten or fifteen dollar minimum, ignoring the fact that the high interest rates send the card balance through the roof. After all, they are building credit. Many of these same college kids find that they can’t pay the bill at some point, and instead of building good credit, they find that they have messed their credit up. However, if trained early and properly, they will be ready to deal with credit in a responsible and very well managed way. This can make a difference between those who build credit during college and their early adult years and those who ruin their credit in those years, having to wait a long time to try again.
Credit is often a mysterious thing. However, there are times when we need it and some of us find that we don’t have it. This is very true of young people who haven’t built that credit up. A credit card when you are a teenager can help as long as you are taught how to use it responsibly. Some of these cards can be gotten as young as 16 if the user has a job. Others require parental co-signing. This is fine, as long as the credit card holder is being taught how to use it and when. This is important because just as a credit card can be used to build credit, it can also destroy credit just as easily.
While many teens use the word emergency to frequently and not for things that others would consider to be an emergency (such as that dress for the dance!), real emergencies still happen. There are times when the car dies, you get lost, or there is some other need that has to be taken care of now and there is nothing easier then being able to take care of those things as they come up. Often this requires teaching the true meaning of the word to the teen, but it can be done and the credit card can become a viable tool at such times.
It is important that there be a few things established here. First of all, if a teen has a credit card, it should be one in their name, one that they get the bill for, and one that helps their credit (or hurts it). You aren’t teaching them the things they need to know by giving them your plastic so they always have money and they never mind spending it. It is also important that this responsibility comes with a great deal of information provided by you. You can include your experiences if you ended up with messed up credit (or have it now). You have to teach them to be responsible and to take care of their credit very carefully. After all, this could be a blessing or a curse, and it is your job as parent to make sure it is indeed a blessing.