If you haven’t given any thought to the idea of your kid using a credit card, you should. Because, whether you like the idea, or not, they will be offered credit cards once they enter college. So, if you don’t want to see your children drowning in debt, you should consider giving them some personal finance training wheels long before they head off to college.
Training should begin no later than their junior year in high school beginning with opening their own checking account and teaching them the basics of cash management and record keeping. You can get them used to carrying plastic by letting them use a debit card linked to the account.
You could then introduce them to credit cards. If they’re younger than 18 you will have to co-sign for the card. Be careful with this as you will be responsible for the debt. You could consider starting them out with a secured card until they demonstrate responsibility.
They need to be taught from the get-go that having a credit card is a privilege, and that its misuse will prevent them from obtaining one in the future. You could show them an interactive calculator that illustrates how 18% debt can grow out of control over a period of time. They need to clearly understand the realities of debt and its destructive power.
Once they’re off to college, they can sign for their own card, so you can only hope that their training leads to good decisions. But then, you’ve been preparing them all of their lives to do just that.