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Credit Card eZine - News and Articles about Credit Cards

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How To Help Your College Student Make Smart Credit Decisions

[July 13th, 2016]

If you’re the parent of a college student, or a soon-to-be college student, you might be wondering how best to help him or her make smart decisions about money while away at school. And primary among your concerns might be credit cards—namely, how to ensure your child doesn’t get in debt up to his or her sweet little eyeballs and have a terrible credit score right out of the gate.

Have no fear, though. There are a few simple steps to take to ensure that your little darling starts off on the right foot when it comes to credit cards, credit scores, and all things credit-related. Read on to find out how you can help shape your child’s financial future, and keep your sanity during this turbulent time.

1. Talk to your kid about credit. The first thing to do is sit down with your child and have a realistic talk about credit. Does you child understand what a credit card is? Go over how you apply for one, who pays for what’s charged on the card, the importance of paying the minimum due by the due date, and even more important, that the goal is to pay the entire amount due each month, not just the minimum. A credit card is not something to use in order to get things for free when you can’t afford them. Money spent on a credit card is money you will need to pay back later. Of course, you understand this—but make sure your child does, as well.

2. Talk to your child about credit scores. Make sure your kid knows how important it is to build a good credit score, and how to get one. Go over the factors that go into a credit score: payment history, credit to debt ratio, new credit, length of credit history, and mix of credit types. If you don’t know about these things already, then educate yourself so you can educate your child. The best way to have a great credit score is to build one right from the beginning. Your college kid has a fresh clean slate. Emphasize how important it is to keep it spotless. It’s easier to maintain good credit than to rebuild bad credit.

3. Go over smart budgeting and spending.Talk about how much money your child will have to spend, who will be in charge of paying bills and other necessities, and where the money will come from and be kept. Download an app to help your child keep track of what money is coming and going from his or her account. A great thing to do is get your child a prepaid credit card, so you can load it with cash for an allowance, and then keep track of where the money is going. This helps your child get used to using something that’s like a credit card, but doesn’t allow him or her to actually accrue any debt. It’s a safe way to dip a toe into the credit card world, without really having a credit card.

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