Before we know it, it will be time for students to head off to college and start the fall semester. This is an exciting, but stressful time when parents must decide on giving your college bound child a credit card.
College seems like the logical time to introduce a credit card. However, many young adults have little to no experience with budgeting. This can lead to too much credit card debt with the “freedom” that comes with a credit card. Even though it may be their first credit card, banks have absolutely no patience with those who cannot pay their bills on time.
Giving Your College Bound Child a Credit Card: The Options
Parents who decide to go with the credit card must then decide which credit card would best suit their child. There a few options:
- Cosign a new credit card
- Give access to the existing family account
- Give a secured card where limits are set in place
Many college students overlook their credit card and forget to pay off their balances. That makes getting rid of debt even harder. To avoid this, parents should set boundaries prior to giving your college bound child a credit card.
Do’s and Don’ts of Giving Your College Bound Child a Credit Card
- Cosign on the credit card – By cosigning on the credit card, parents have the opportunity to monitor their child’s spending to ensure they are being responsible and not going on spending sprees.
- Teach students about credit early – Provide your children with the tools they need to be financially successful early on so that you can feel confident that they will use the card responsibly.
- Shop around – Do your research and compare credit card options to make sure you are getting the best card to fulfill your child’s needs.
- Constantly pay off student’s debt – Limit your child to one ‘bail out’ to show them they need to learn how to become financially independent and responsible. If you cosigned with them, take the card away to prevent your credit from plummeting when you feel they have exceeded a reasonable limit.
- Use on-campus credit cards – Don’t let your student sign up for a credit card at an on-campus table that is giving away freebies. There are probably cheaper and better cards out there.
- Give students more than they can handle – Start off slow by giving them one credit card so they can learn to be financially responsible. By having too many credit cards, it is easy to forget which has been paid off and which has not.
Check out the Financial Workbook for pe-college and college students from American Consumer Credit Counseling for more useful personal finance tips!