As more and more adults struggle with mounting credit card debt, a new debate has erupted throughout the country on whether kids and teens should be allowed to use credit cards before maturing into adulthood. Many experts and financial commentators on television seem to have taken the position that these cards should not be placed in the hands of children; however, there are two sides to every argument.
The other side of the debate is that kids and teens need to be educated on the proper uses and potential dangers of credit. According to one news source, the average college student carries approximately $3,200 in credit card debt while they are in school. In many cases, the amount of debt that a graduate carries only grows with time as he tries to payback student loans and juggle credit card interest. If these kids were taught how to be responsible with credit at an early age, they may be more reluctant to run up a large credit card bill when they leave home for the first time.
It is unlikely that anyone would argue that kids need to be educated about finances and credit, but is handing over a credit card really the best way to teach these lessons? Numerous theories have been tossed around regarding which educational strategies are best.
Some parents believe in giving their children credit cards with low limits and closely monitoring their usage of the card. This strategy gives parents an opportunity to sit down with their kids and talk about how APR works and how responsible management can increase your credit score.
Other parents and commentators believe that giving kids credit cards is like introducing them to a financial drug that they could potentially become addicted to and dependent upon. However, regardless of the particular strategy that is used, one this is for certain: kids need to be educated on personal finances.
Source: MSNBC (The Red Tape Chronicles): “Is it a good idea to give a kid a credit card?” Bob Sullivan, June 17, 2011