get your child a credit card for college

Pros and Cons of getting your child a credit card for college

Helping your child to manage finances and build credit is the responsibility of every parent. A credit card is often the first step toward making college-going students accountable for their decisions. 

Should a parent give their child a credit card for college or not is a dilemma because there are both pros and cons attached to the situation.

Advantages of giving your child a credit card for college 

1. Handle emergency

A credit card will come in handy during emergencies. Suppose the student has a car breakdown on their way to college or has to pay for something unexpectedly, then they can withdraw the necessary funds from a bank or use the credit card directly to make the payment. 

2. Establish good financial habits

A credit card helps the student to build life-long skills and establish good financial habits. Managing the money and paying the credit card balance each month will ensure that the student becomes financially responsible from an early age.

3. Build credit history

Proper use of a credit card will have a positive impact on the credit score and credit history. Giving your child a credit card for college will help them to build a credit history that they can use later on to make important purchases or to get a much-needed loan.

Should you get your child a credit card for college

Disadvantages of giving your child a credit card for college 

1. Unnecessary burden 

Going to college is a landmark for a child as they generally leave their comfortable surroundings for the first time and start taking ownership of their actions.

A credit card is a responsibility that has to be handled with care as its misuse can prove harmful. Using and managing the credit card and tracking balances may add stress on the student who already has other challenges to consider. 

2. Risk to the credit

If the child is unable to act responsibly, then it can have long-term damage to the credit score. If a parent has co-signed the card, then their credit can also be at risk.

Additional read: Expenses covered under education loan

How to decide whether your college-going child is ready for a credit card

Ask yourself some tough questions to determine whether you should get your child a credit card for college or not.

Can your child follow the rules? Is the child capable of handling the additional responsibility of a credit card, or are they likely to go on a spending spree?

Do they understand the concept of a credit card? Will they be able to make payments every month, or will they forget to do so?

Every child is different and so are their actions. A parent knows their child the best. Look at past actions and determine whether the child is capable of handling the responsibility of a credit card.

1. Preventive measures for safe use of credit card

If you are still concerned about your child using a credit card in college, then take some precautionary measures so that the child can benefit from the experience and come out stronger. 

2. Explain the fine print

Explain the fine print and walk your child through every small detail. The card user should be aware of the fee schedule, the terms of repayment, interest rates, late penalties, and the importance of paying the balance of each month on time. 

3. Give a detailed explanation of the use of a credit card 

Make sure the child understands the concept of the credit card and both the pros and cons of the credit card scheme. Emphasize the point that any misuse will have consequences, and proper handling will reap life-long rewards. 

4. Set some ground rules 

Your child will be using the credit card for the first time, hence set some ground rules at the onset to avoid any unpleasant surprises down the line.

Be specific about what the card can be used for and what purchases are out of bounds. Focus on the responsibility of paying the credit card amount and how it will be reimbursed. 

5. Put a limit on the available funds

Put a limit on the available funds so that the child is not tempted to spend beyond their means. 

6. Make sure the child follows the rules

Keep a check on the credit card statement and make sure that the child follows the set rules. 


Giving a credit card for college can be a wise choice if the parents can communicate both the pros and cons of its use to their child effectively.

Do not set them free so that they can do as they please; instead, establish boundaries and show them the ways to build a financial future.

Consult an expert advisor to get the right plan

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