How to Get Your Parents to Get You a Credit Card
Some parents are quick to place a credit card in their teen’s possession, perhaps out of an eagerness to help them build up credit, or simple leniency. If your parents aren’t so keen on the idea of getting you a credit card of your own, however, there are things you can do to help convince them. By demonstrating your responsibility with money, awareness of credit card details and potential pitfalls, and flexibility in the type of card you desire, you can only improve your chances of walking away with some plastic in your pocket.
Making Your Case
Prove you can handle money responsibly.If you can’t show that you have the maturity and self-control to be sensible with your money, you have very little chance of convincing your parents to let you have your own credit card. Used irresponsibly, credit cards can have lasting negative financial effects for teens as well as adults.
- Keep your spending under control. If you repeatedly blow your allowance on frivolous items, you will have a difficult time justifying being given access to even more money. Show that you can be thoughtful in your purchases, and can control your buying impulses.
- Start keeping records. Even if you don’t have a checking account yet, you can keep a simple logbook of your income and expenditures. Showing an interest in keeping track of your money may signal to your parents that you have the maturity to handle a credit card.
- Make your own money. If you are old enough to hold a part-time job, use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your responsibility with money. Many parents will want proof that you know that “money doesn’t grow on trees,” but instead requires hard work.
Do your homework on credit cards.Instead of whining that you need a credit card because “all my friends have one,” take the initiative to learn about the particulars of credit card ownership and the options available to you. This will also be taken as a sign of maturity.
- If, for instance, you show an awareness of how compounding interest and/or late fees can make an unpaid balance skyrocket quickly, you may ease your parents’ minds about your likelihood of maxing out a card.
- See the relevant section of this article for information on the types of cards available to teens.
Discuss the benefits of establishing and building a credit score.Some parents may already believe that it’s never too early to start building up good credit, but others may need some convincing. Research the subject and present a good case on why you should be building up yours already.
- Your credit score basically reflects your ability to utilize credit and pay it off on time and in full. The higher your score, the more credit-worthy you will be judged by potential lenders.
- While only a small percentage of your overall credit score is affected by the amount of time you have utilized credit,even small increases in your credit score can make securing loans and purchasing cars and a home easier in your future.
- Most parents love to hear that their teens are thinking about their future, so demonstrating knowledge and interest about your credit score may help get them to relent on a credit card.
Understand the limits if you are under 18, or even 21.In the U.S., it is much more difficult for teens and young adults to secure their own credit cards than it was even ten years ago. The federal CARD Act of 2009 is intended to protect consumers, including those under age 21.
- If you are under 18, it is virtually impossible for you to secure a credit card in your own name. Your best bet is to consider debit / prepaid card options, or to become an authorized user on your parents’ card. See the relevant section of this article for more on these options.
- If you are between 18 and 21, you now need to either have an adult co-signer or be able to prove that you have the income to pay the minimum monthly balance. In practice, unless you have a steady job, it will be difficult for you to secure a credit card on your own.
Considering Card Options
Start with a prepaid debit card.If your parents show an interest in letting you have a credit card, but want to be able to supervise and (when necessary) limit your spending, a prepaid debit card can be a good “starter” card. It is also good practice for you before possibly moving onto other options.
- There are several prepaid debit cards marketed towards teens, such as the Visa Buxx card.
- Prepaid debit cards require your parents to deposit funds in your account, and your spending ability is limited to that amount. Cards marketed for teens usually allow both you and your parents to easily track your spending and receive spending alerts.
- Such cards have no impact on your credit score (if you have one yet), but they work like a credit card at retailers and offer good practice in using a card and tracking spending.
Establish your own checking account with a linked debit card.Especially if you are old enough to have a part-time job, it will be much more convenient come paycheck time for you to have a bank account. Linking a debit card to this account will give you some spending freedom, but still establish limits.
- Depending upon your age and the bank you use, you may need to open a joint account with your parent(s).
- Look for accounts with overdraft protection, especially if you or your parents are concerned about your ability to keep track of the money in your account. You don’t want to get hit with big fees for spending money you don’t have.
Become an authorized user on your parents’ credit card.As an authorized user, you will receive a card with your name on it, and be free to use it wherever cards are accepted. All charges will be directed to the single account in your parents’ names.
- According to the 2009 CARD Act, this is your only real option to get a fully-functional credit card with your name on it if you are under 18.
- This is the point when the “trust factor” really has to kick in. As an authorized user, you are legally free to spend up to the credit limit on the card, and the primary account holder (your parent[s]) is liable for the charges.
- This is also when you can start building up your own credit. Credit reporting agencies typically include authorized user accounts when determining a credit score. However, they have methods in place to exclude “piggybacking” — that is, adding your name to an account strictly to improve your own credit score.
- Expect and accept that your parent(s) will set strict spending limits except in cases of real emergencies (like a broken down car, not a sale at your favorite store!). They may also expect you to be able to pay your share of the bill each month.
- If they are a bit wary, your parents may want to open a new card with a low credit limit to provide a cap on your possible spending.
Consider a secured credit card.Secured cards are another option as an authorized user, or if you are over 18 and meet the income requirements for your own card. These cards require you to provide cash collateral in order to receive credit.
- With secured credit cards, you deposit a small amount into a bank account — often 0 or 0 — and this becomes your credit limit. If you can’t pay your monthly balance, the amount is taken out of this account.
- So, similar to a debit card, your spending is connected to existing funds in an account. Unlike a debit card, however, you are incurring monthly credit charges and are expected to pay them off in full.
- In order to build a good credit score with a secured card, you need to be able to pay off your balance in full and on time each month. You don’t want to have to dip into your collateral funds.
Move on to a student credit card between ages 18 and 21.If you have sufficient income to satisfy the requirements of the CARD Act, this is the point when you can truly have a credit card of your own. Look first at cards that are designed with students and young adults in mind.
Video: 5 Ways to Get Your Parents to say YES!
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