In the day and age that we live in today credit scores have a
great influence on our financial future and that is why many
parents nowadays are not only worried about their child’s health
and safety but also about how their kids can build a good
How soon should one start to build credit? The answer is that
the teenage years are the best time to start building a credit
history. This means that parents will have to take the lead in
explaining the basics of saving, earning and spending before
their kids become teenagers.
Follow these 5 steps and by the time your kids are flying solo,
they should be well on the way to a good credit score.
1. Help your child open savings and checking accounts:
A savings account is the basic building block to help children
understand the financial world. Parents should encourage kids to
deposit birthday money, allowances and cash from any odd jobs
they go into this account and also save up for something they
want to buy. This will help them to learn firsthand as to how
compound interest works.
When your kids are in the early teens help them open a checking
account and teach them how it works and about penalties if they
overdraw or if their checks bounce. This will not only limit them
to their checking account balance but also give them some
spending independence. It will also help show financial
institutions that your teen can handle money.
2. Encourage your teen to get a part- time job:
Working part-time will not only help teach children the value
of money but will also definitely go a long way in making your
child a responsible adult. The thrill of seeing savings grow and
the disappointment of watching money disappear when they
make bad decisions will be a precursor to understanding credit.
3. Make your child an authorized user of your credit card :
The most conventional way that people start building credit is by
taking on a credit card or loan, but one has to be at least 18 to
do this. However, you can build your child’s credit even before
the age of 18 by making your child an authorized user on your
credit card. The credit card company will issue a second card in
the child’s name. The child can use this card as a card of his
own but the only difference is that the primary holder (parent) is
responsible for the entire balance.
4. Co-signing a loan or credit card:
If you think that it is not a good idea to make your teen an
authorized user on your card, you can co-sign his or her first
credit card. This will pack more punch than authorized user-
ship as your child will be the primary borrower and it will do
more to help your child build a solid credit score. But
remember to educate your child how to use the card responsibly.
You should be comfortable with this possibility before moving
5. Obtain a secured credit card:
If you feel your child is not particularly responsible with money,
the best option is to help your child apply for a secured card
when he/she is 18 years old. These cards are normally fully
secured and require cardholders to deposit a few hundred dollars
which is usually equal to the credit limit. You can make the
initial deposit together. The advantage of such a card is that your
economic risk is just the amount of deposit and some credit
cards come with some additional attractive features like a
reasonable annual fee of about $29 which allow kids to monitor
their credit scores and use a credit simulator to see what the
consequences will be if they missed a payment or continue to
pay on time over an extended period of time.
If your child uses the credit card regularly for small purchases
and pays off the balances in time he/she can qualify for an
unsecured credit card after six months.
Building up a solid credit score will help your child qualify for
loans, auto insurance and even affect whether he/she can get a
job. Therefore, you should monitor your teen’s activities as
she/he gets into the credit habit and allow more flexibility as
responsibility is demonstrated.
Obtaining a reasonable of credit at an early age and using it
responsibly will definitely pay off in the long run. There are
tricks and techniques to build a good credit score a young age
but in the end, it boils down to being responsible.