Can your high school student have a credit card?

Most credit cards designed for students were created for college students – but can a high school student get a credit card? The short answer is yes. The long answer would involve a lot of talking!

In adolescence, many go out and get their first job, or earn income through benefits or childcare. This is the perfect time for parents to help them learn the basics of money management; what many families do not know; leaving high school graduates to go on to college or the “real world” with very little real financial knowledge.

Just a few years ago, not only was it impossible to give a teenager a credit card, you’d be considered a little crazy to do such a thing! Times have changed though, and there are various credit cards on the market for teens that parents can use to help them learn the basics of financial responsibility.

Teen credit cards include features like parental controls and digital “allowances.” Giving your teen a credit card may make you sweat, but it makes for a good educational financial experience for your child – before it’s too late for you to help them become financially responsible people:

Teach them about good credit. With so many adults currently struggling to repair their credit or increase their income so that it’s easier to meet their monthly payments, it’s never too early to teach teens how to manage their money. Teaching them at a younger age can prevent them from spending too much once they are on their own. Nellie Mae says the average freshman has over $1,500 in credit card debt; and once a student realizes how easy it is to “get what they want, now,” they become accustomed to using it to buy the things they want while in school. If the teenager enters the adult world with strong money management skills, they are less likely to go into debt.

Your choices. If you aren’t concerned about your teen building a credit history just yet and just want a way to teach the basics of money management, you can look into a prepaid debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo. Some of these cards may have annual fees or transaction fees, giving you another opportunity to show how using a credit card is not the same as buying cash. You can also register your teenager for a checking account with a debit card; or put them as an authorized user of an account you already have – or open a new credit card account with a low limit and put your teen as the cardholder.

Gives teens access to emergency money. When your kids become teenagers, chances are they’ll start spending more time away from you and alone or with their friends. Sometimes they may need money – if a car breaks down and they need to be towed off the highway, or for long distance phone calls, for example. Having a credit card in their pocket will allow them to handle an emergency that requires access to cash and can give you a bit more peace of mind.

If you decide you’re ready to teach your teen the basics of money and credit management, be sure to spend some time researching the different options available to you before deciding on an option. Whichever option you choose, you’ll want to make sure you’re spending enough time with your teen and not expecting them to figure out what to do with it on their own! Try using a service like Citibank’s Credit-Ed program:

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