Many people, especially teenagers and their parents, wonder on occasion whether or not credit cards are appropriate for high school students. In fact, the issue has become one of the most hotly debated issues involving teenagers in recent years. Some people say that high school student credit cards can help educate teens on money management skills while others say that they do just the opposite, that they make students used to paying for everything with plastic, with credit, with money that they might not have.
So what’s the real answer? When are high school student credit cards really appropriate? And when are they not appropriate? Well, as you can likely imagine, the answer is not at all straightforward. At best, it is a decision that families of teenagers need to make on their own, depending on their own particular conclusions, viewpoints, and beliefs.
However, an understanding of these credit cards, what they are, their uses, and how to find the best ones is of utmost importance when making an educated decision on the matter. And all of that information is what you will find below. Starting with what is a student credit card.
What Is a Student Credit Card?
High school student credit cards can actually be a number of different things. There are various options that you can go with when searching for a card for your teenager. A few of these different options are discussed below.
One of the most popular types of student credit cards is a “prepaid” card. These are very different from “actual” credit cards, like the kind you yourself probably use, because they are “secure” and do not have an open line of credit. They cannot be used to build credit but they can be used to give a teen an understanding of how credit cards work.
To use a prepaid credit card, you must first open an account with one of the credit card companies that provide such a program. Visa and MasterCard are two big names that run such programs. After setting up an account, you simply load your own money onto your teen’s new prepaid card. This is the limit to the amount of money that they can use it for. You can then either make monthly payments (to either add to the amount available on the card or pay off past purchases) or have your teen do the same.
While most parents go with the prepaid credit card for teenage children that are still in high school, at least initially, others opt to take another popular route. This route consists of actually adding your teenager to your actual credit card account as an “authorized user.” Your teen will then receive their very own credit card to use but it is in your name. This can help you see exactly where their money is going, what they are spending it on, but if your teen is irresponsible with their card, it can backfire fast. You really don’t want your teen to cause you to go into credit card debt with accidental misspending on their student card.
Whichever type of high school student credit card you opt for, whether it is one of the two discussed above or another type altogether, it is important to view the possession of the card as a learning experience, an opportunity for them to get first hand money management knowledge. You should set limits on the amount that your teen can spend each month and you should require them to pay back, at least in part, the money that they spend on the card.
High School Student Credit Cards
When do you know that your high school student is ready for their own credit card? Well, as mentioned above, it depends.
Before making a decision, you should sit down with your teen and have a discussion. Ask them why they want a credit card and what they will use it for. Ask them how much they are looking to spend on it per month and how they will meet the monthly payments. It is important to try to get a feel for your teen’s reasons behind getting a card and to gauge their responsibility and maturity towards using it properly. A teen credit card can be an excellent tool but it can also backfire in a hurry.
If your high school student is already 18 or over, then it might be time for them to get a credit card based on age alone. In fact, once a teen is over 18, even if they are still enrolled in high school, they are legally allowed to open a credit card for themselves. However, they are also required to meet the credit card issuer’s requirement including having a sufficient income to make monthly payments. So this means that your teen will need to have at least a part-time job before taking out their own credit card.
If your high school student isn’t yet 18, then you are going to have to go with one of the two credit card options discussed above. In many ways, these options are altogether safer and more secure as they give you greater control over your teen’s spending. They allow you to monitor their cards and make sure that they are using them in a responsible way.
So deciding whether your teenager is ready for a high school credit card depends largely upon their age, the year that they are in school, and whether or not they have a part-time job. It also depends on their maturity level and the trust you have in their money management skills.
Tips for Finding Free Student Credit Cards
At this point you might be wondering where you can find a high school student credit card for your teenager. You might also be wondering where you can find a free student credit card.
Free student credit cards are actually relatively easy to find. They can be found much like any other sort of credit card. The three easiest ways to find one are researching them online, talking to a financial advisor, or opening up an account with your own credit card provider.
It is important to note that not all high school student credit cards are free. In fact, even most “free” ones aren’t necessarily free. It is quite easy to find a card from a provider that doesn’t cost any money to set up. However, these cards, even the very best ones, often have severe penalties and fines for missed payments or overspending. This is why it is absolutely crucial that you make sure that both you and your teen are ready for them to have their own card.
At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide when a high school student credit card is appropriate for your teenager. Much of it depends on your particular situation and the type of credit card that you and your teen want to set up. Hopefully the information above has helped you clear up some of the confusion and has made your decision that much easier to make.
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