*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated Apr 18, 2013, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
Teaching your son or daughter how to manage money is an increasingly important aspect of good parenting and, if you choose the right kind of credit card, you can get some help from your card company. That's because many credit card issuers offer special products in the form of credit cards that have built-in parental controls.
You get the peace of mind and confidence of knowing that your child will not be able to misuse or abuse the card – which could destroy your own credit rating and create havoc. You also get help teaching your kids how to use a credit card in the grown-up world of modern finance and commerce. They can learn safely and securely because even if they accidentally slip up and make an innocent mistake, like going over their spending limit, the automatic card controls will kick in and save the day. Here is a look at some of the many parental controls you can enjoy in the modern world.
These cards put your son or daughter on your own credit card account as another card user or cardholder, which makes it easy for them to get a card even if they are still too young to have a credit history or good credit score. Since you are being exposed to liability by having them on your account, the credit card features also offer various types of protection. You can set the limit for how much your child is able to withdraw at one time from an ATM machine, for example. If they go to the ATM and your imposed limit is $25 per day and they try to withdraw more than that, the transaction will be blocked. Just be sure you're aware of all the fees that can add up and be sure to pick the right card for your child.
You can also sign up for e-mail alerts, which are super cool. Let's say your child has a spending limit of $100 but they try to get access to $150. You will get an email within 24 hours informing you about it. If they try to use the credit card in designated places that are inappropriate, you also get notifications about that kind of activity by setting automatic limits. For example, if your 17-year-old teen tries to use the card to rent a car, a hotel room, or pay to get into a place where only adults are allowed, not only is the card placed on a hold, but you also get notified. Or, say, your teen tries to use the credit card in a restaurant to buy alcohol under age, you can choose to be alerted with a convenient e-mail. The features vary from card to card and you can choose to set your own personal preferences.
If you need to give your child money in the event of an emergency, you should be able to do so online. This may prevent you from making a long trip across town to fill up your kid's fuel, just because he left the $20 you gave him at home.
Online account management will also allow you to pull money out of your child's account, should he or she need some form of punishment. For instance, if Billy wrecked your car and "forgot" to pay for the new mirror you made him buy, you could just take the money out of his account. May be a bit of a shock when he goes to buy his Red Bull, but hey, that's the fun part of being a parent, right?
The ultimate form of parental control is being able to put a stop to "the madness." In this case, if you think your child is still not ready to handle a credit card or prepaid card, you should be able to cancel the account free of charge. This will depend on the card issuer though, so make sure you check with your provider before cancelling. There may be a small fee to worry about.
So instead of being afraid to let your child have a credit card, take advantage of these great features to help guide your child to be a more responsible and savvy consumer. It is a lesson that will reward them for the rest of their lives. Check out these top prepaid credit cards for 2013.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.