On February 7th of this year, US news outlet CNBC put out an article explaining the importance of opening a credit card at 18 years old.
In light of that piece, we wanted to put together a list of tips and information that we believe will help your teenager properly adjust to having a credit card while they are in high school, should you choose to follow the guidance of that CNBC article or the plenty of other work suggesting that children should start their journey with credit-building and management earlier than you did as a young adult.
We've already given you some finance-related book recommendations for your child and now, here are four tips to help your child out with this big step towards financial responsibility.
1. Make Payments on Time
Payment history is a primary factor in your child’s credit score, as we’re sure you know from personal experience. Late or missed payments can lead to many problems, such as late fees, increased interest rates and credit score issues that can stay with your child if mismanaged severely. Whether you circumvent this by setting up automatic payments or reminders to pay off a credit card, on-time payments are crucial to the responsible use of a credit card.
2. Check Monthly Statements Carefully For Accuracy
We’ll discuss a little bit more about this below but there are obvious reasons that we are highlighting this tip. Mistakes happen. Fraud happens. Therefore, it is important that your child understands how imperative it is that they review monthly credit card statements in order to spot unauthorized charges, which they can then bring up with their credit card issuer to clarify and ensure that this does not hurt their credit or general financial standing.
3. Monitor Your Credit
Keeping track of your credit and credit score is a good way to assess and stay aware of your financial standing. Also, and maybe most importantly, keeping an eye on your credit can help you spot errors and monitor potential fraud occurring against you. Fraudulent activity could be a monumental detriment to your child’s credit score and their future ability to get loans and make bigger ticket purchases, so this is a crucial tip for them to understand right away.
4. Track Your Spending
Keeping track of the spending you do with your credit card allows you to ensure you stay under your credit limit. There are a lot of negative consequences that can come with exceeding the limit on a credit card, such as an increase on the interest rate of that particular card by the issuer. An increased interest rate can make it harder to pay off the credit card over time, so you’ll want to avoid that problem by tracking your spending carefully.
All told, credit cards are an undoubtedly big piece of the personal finance landscape for us all, a reality that is especially true for young teenagers and young adults who are towards the end of their high school journey.
To that end, we are sure that you would agree with us when we say that your child will be much better prepared for their financial future if they get an early head start on obtaining proper financial literacy skills and expertise.
We’ve got nationally and internationally-acclaimed programs in this area for children in grades one all the way to grade twelve, covering topics from the basics and history of money to the stock market and global finance, so we encourage you to check them out today and sign your child up as soon as possible!