How to Pick a First Credit Card for Your Teen

Written by: Valencia Higuera

Maybe your teen has been begging for a credit card, but you’re not sure if he or she is ready. This is a dilemma faced by many parents. On one hand, you want your older teen to establish good credit habits. On the other hand, you know the dangers of credit cards. Your concerns are understandable, however, getting your teen his first credit card can work. Proper credit education can go a long way. But even if you’re dead set against your teen getting a credit card, your child may apply for an account once he’s 18-years-old. You might be unable to change his mind, but you can help him pick the right first credit card.

1. Does the credit card require a cosigner?

Credit cards have different requirements and rules. There are plenty of first-time credit cards for students and teenagers. But unfortunately, some of these credit cards require a cosigner. These cards can get your kid’s foot in the door with a creditor, but if he doesn’t pay the bill, you’re responsible for the charges. Explore different options and pick the one you’re most comfortable with. Carefully consider whether becoming a cosigner is in the best interest of your child and yourself. With you as a safety net, your kid might use the card irresponsibly, betting on the fact that you’ll bail him out. If you decide not to become a cosigner, there are other options such as a secured credit card.

2. What is the credit limit?

When picking a first credit card for teens, your child doesn’t need a credit card with a large credit limit. This is an invitation for problems, as most young adults can’t handle this type of leeway. Read the fine print of credit applications and check for information regarding credit limits. You can also contact credit card companies and request this information. Student credit cards and cards designed for first timers are best because they typically feature low credit limits – usually under $500. This gives your child the opportunity to demonstrate creditworthiness. Based on his habits, the credit card company may issue a higher limit at a later date.

3. What are the card features?

If picking a first credit card on their own, teens might select the worst kind of card. This can include a card with a high interest rate, no perks and a high annual fee. Give your kid a little guidance and show him how to compare different credit card offers. Granted, as a first-timer, his options may be limited. But this doesn’t suggest applying for a card with a 30% or higher interest rate. There are credit cards for teens that feature reasonable terms and much lower rates, such as the Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa for College Students and the Capital One Secured MasterCard.

Credit cards that feature a rewards program let your kid earn cash back, miles and points on every purchases. He’ll learn how to benefit the most from his credit cards, and save on future purchases, such as hotels, airfare, gas and dining out.


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How to Pick a First Credit Card for Your Teen

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