As minors cannot sign a contract until they are 18 they cannot be involved as a co-signer on a card. A parent cannot cosign for their kids as the kids cannot sign on to the card with them. Cosigning for your kids is a relatively straightforward process, both of you will be on the application and both will sign. The parent’s credit will be evaluated for approval. If it is approved, the proper management of the card and the parent’s credit background will elevate their adult child’s credit score. Of course, if the card is not managed well or the parents have a lapse in managing their credit, that can be detrimental to the young person’s credit score.
However, being younger than 18 does not lock a young person out of having a credit card. They can be placed on an established credit card as an authorized signer. This gives them all the rights of usage without the responsibility. But it will start to build their score for them provided the parent has a good score to start with. Yes, the minor can start building that FICO score while they are a minor. The best option: Parents can remove the minor from the account anytime they wish!
This is especially helpful when the card has been misused.
The major disadvantage of minors with credit cards is their occasional lack of responsibility. They might use the card for parentally unauthorized usages like a Miley Cyrus concert or go hog wild buying MP3’s on iTunes or Amazon. There are a variety of opportunities for minors to misuse a card. It is up to the parent to ensure the child understands the limitations and responsibilities related to managing the card and teach them how their current authorized usage will benefit them in their adult life.
One option that families have in training their kids to manage money is the Meriwest Credit Union Flow Card. The Flow Card is an electronic checking account (no checks allowed) that is managed by a parent and their child. Flow Cards come with free online banking, online bill pay, and mobile banking options. Your child cannot overdraft a Flow Card! The account is ideal for those students who are aged 13-24 years old. It gives parents an opportunity to teach their kids about managing money with a debit card as the parent and the kid will both have access to the account information. This is good training for eventually managing a credit card.
Meriwest Credit Union is an Equal Housing Lender. All accounts are insured by the NCUA to $250,000.