We hear lots of stories about how credit cards ruin people’s lives in college, and how companies trick naïve students into debt. But having credit is very important in the real world, and some kids are better with money than others and could really benefit from having a card. Here are some pros and cons of college credit cards.
- Building up a good credit score can be essential for future major financial moves, such as real estate, automobiles, and bank loans; no credit history can be just as bad as bad credit.
- With a card, there will be less need for carrying cash, and it will be easier to track where the money is going.
- Kids can use computers, often better than their parents, and with credit cards they can keep track of their money and maybe even teach some parents a few tricks.
- Credit cards are good for emergencies.
- Credit cards will teach your kid how to handle money. If they can’t handle money, it will reflect, and if they can, they will reap the benefits.
- Amassing a bad credit score can take decades to get out of, and can hinder major financial moves.
- A lack of guidance with a co-signed credit card can teach your kids the wrong money lessons, which may cause them to buy things they cannot afford later down the line. Make sure you have the time and know-how to help them with their credit.
- If you don’t have the time or know-how, it is not a good idea to give your kid their own card either. This can land them in debt that they will have to pay their own way out of.
- Having a credit card may inspire your kid to spend more, and may lead to a cycle of working to pay back money rather than to save it.
- Getting the wrong kind of credit card can have some nasty consequences. Interest rates and predetermined spending limits might catch your kid off-guard if they don’t know about it.
Basically, the key is to educate your kid and yourself about plastic before getting it. All of the cons can be avoided with a thrifty attitude and some well-defined basic ground rules. Don’t let the horror stories scare you away, just stay informed and research before you sign up with a card.