A: The answer is different for each child. First weigh the pros and cons.


Pros: The opportunity for your child to build a good credit history and learn financial responsibility.

Cons: The potential for trouble — unwise spending, the amassing of debt, the consequences of missed or late payments that can affect his or her credit report for years to come.

True, there is the risk around novice, irresponsible behavior related to a credit card, but there can also be downside when students opt out entirely from taking on the responsibility and, by extension, benefits of building credit.  Graduating with little or no credit history can make it difficult to obtain a loan for larger purchases when you may feel like it’s time to be on your own and secure rent or purchase a car.

If your child decides to apply for a credit card, steer them toward finding one with low rates and no fees, and discuss best practices and responsible spending. Many companies offer cards specifically designed for students. You can check out bankrate.com1  to comparison shop.


1 TIAA-CREF and its affiliates are providing bankrate.com as an example of a resource for credit card information.  We are not responsible for the information or services it provides.