Host: At what age should my children get a credit card?
Janet Bodnar: I am really hard on the subject of kids and credit cards. I really think that kids should wait until they are at least juniors or seniors in college before they get a credit card and again, I really think that they need to learn how to manage cash before they can become really good managers of credit. So, if they learn how to do this in High School they get their first ATM card perhaps, they get a debit card.
Certainly, when they go away to college they are going to have a check in account with a debit card attached and I have had three kids go away to college and I am here to tell you that is all they need, that's plenty, they can certainly manage their money with a check in account and with a debit card and you and they for the first couple of years of college can get confidence that they do know how to manage their money. They are not going to run out of money half way through the semester. They are not going to overdraw their check in account. Then once you have that confidence that they can manage cash money then they can move on to a credit card. Again, my two older children both applied for credit card when they were seniors in college and now they are out of college, they have very good credit ratings, they pay their credits bills in full and on time every month, they are paying back their students loans. Credit card issuers love them. Everyday in the mail they get more offers for credit cards.
So, the point is if they learn how to manage cash early and then for apply for a credit card perhaps, before they leave college when they are juniors or seniors they will be able to have credit but they will also know how to manage it.