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Should College Students Have Credit Cards?

Jul 22, 2008
Many parents are not overly concerned about their teenage son or daughter obtaining a credit card. But when children leave home to attend college, is it really a good idea for them to have credit cards?

Children tend to do the opposite of whatever it may be that their parents suggest they do. When it comes to parents advice on credit cards, this rule definitely applies.

College students are the fastest growing untapped market. They are not fully adults but not children either. They represent millions of dollars in buying power. They qualify for loans to attend college and other financial aid.

Credit card companies often make deals with colleges to distribute applications to their students in exchange for credit cards that carry the college logo or school name. It's too bad that those applications are not accompanied by some literature or a course in money management. When the college students qualify for those high credit limits, they don't account for the fact that they don't have the income to repay their purchases.

The question is not whether college students should have credit cards but instead, who should give them one. They will acquire one whether parents want them to or not. To head off disaster, parents can be the one to supply the credit card for their college student.

Parents have several options. They can simply add their childs name to an existing credit card account. They can also help their kids obtain a credit card that allows parents to track their childrens spending habits. Kids who have been taught to make good decisions about money throughout their life will be more prepared to resist the temptation to over spend with a credit card.

When monthly statements for the card arrive, parents should discuss the purchases made on the account with their child. This can be done in person or over the phone, if necessary. Children will feel more accountable if parents continue communicating with them about their credit card.

A debit card can be used instead of a credit card. They work the same way, but they draw off of funds in a checking account. Parents can make sure that their children are ready to use a credit card by putting a set amount of money into the debit cards account every month and seeing if their children are able to use the card responsibly.

It is very likely that parents of college students are more aware of just how important a good credit score is than their kids are. Parents can help their children be ready to handle a credit card responsibly by preparing them for the dangers that such cards also present.
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