When Is the Right Age to Have a Credit Card?
It’s a question many parents ask: When should your child get his or her first credit card? Of course, the answer isn’t always easy to come by, but it will likely involve some careful planning and preparation.
What is the average age to get a credit card?
The average age to get a credit card is 18, though it varies depending on the type of card and the institution giving it. As per SoFi, “To be eligible for a credit card, you must be at least 18 years in age.”
As you might imagine, the younger you are when you start using credit cards, the more likely you’ll struggle with spending responsibly. But there’s no need to panic—you can still enjoy the convenience and rewards offered by credit cards without becoming over-indebted. So there are certain steps that everyone should take before applying for a credit card.
What can you do in the meantime while you wait to get your credit card?
While you’re waiting to get your first credit card, there are some other options.
- Consider using a debit card instead of a credit card. A debit card is linked directly to your bank account, meaning any purchases you make will be subtracted from the balance in your checking account. This makes it easier to track how much money you have left in the bank and avoid overdraft charges.
- If you don’t want to use a debit card but do want access to financial tools like cash back and rewards programs, consider getting one of these:
- Banks also offer their own versions of these products; while they still require an existing relationship with the bank itself (and often come with fees), they can provide an alternative if none of the options above work out for you.
How can you help your kids build their credit before they get to college?
The best way to teach kids how to use credit cards responsibly is for them to have their own credit cards. This is why parents need to have their children start building good credit before they get to college.
How do you build good credit if you’re under 21?
The easiest way is with a debit card linked directly to your checking account or savings account. It sounds simple, but this strategy can be very effective in helping young people establish positive financial habits while they are still in high school and getting ready for college.
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The best way to teach kids how to use credit cards responsibly
The best way to teach kids how to use credit cards responsibly is for you and your child to sit down together and go over the following topics:
- The difference between a debit card and a credit card.
- How credit cards work.
- How to use a credit card responsibly, including when it’s okay or not okay to make purchases with one.
- Why avoiding debt is so important (for example, if you can’t pay off your debts, banks will send collection agencies after you).
A good rule of thumb for credit cards is that you should be able to pay off the balance every month. If you’re unsure whether or not now is a good time, wait until you feel more comfortable managing money and paying bills on time.
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