Generally speaking I’m no fan of age discrimination, but getting a credit card before you’re a technical “adult” is just asking for trouble and shouldn’t be allowed. Seriously, what good comes of giving a 17 year-old a credit line? Even if the teen is bringing in some income from his or her part-time job at Applebee’s, what would be the need?
A majority of the public agrees. We asked 1,000 people in a new Credit.com survey whether someone under the age of 18 should be entitled to a credit card on their own. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said no, absolutely not.
The current law goes even further to say that banks and card issuers cannot grant credit cards to anyone under the age of 21 without sufficient proof of income or a cosigner. I’m not saying that young adults are more likely to rack up debt than their parents. It’s more that I just don’t see the point in introducing them to a financial product that offers them little to no benefits. Sure, you can establish credit history at an exceptionally young age, which helps your credit score in the long run. But let’s be real: how many 17 year-olds even know what a credit score is? According to the JumpStart Coalition, a D.C.-based non-profit focused on improving financial education among students, the financial literacy of high school students has fallen to its lowest level ever, with a score of just 48.3 percent. On the exam most students answered many credit card-related questions incorrectly.
On a personal note – I opened my first credit card at age 19, only to abuse it for the next three years. I graduated from college with about $4,000 in debt and that’s WITH having very strict parents who told me only to use it for emergencies. I can just tell you from experience that having the ability to eat your pizza now and pay for it later is all-too irresistible when you’re a teen.
This national RDD Probability Sample telephone poll was conducted for Credit.com by GfK Custom Research North America from January 14-16, 2011. A total of 1,004 interviews were completed, with roughly 531 female adults and 473 male adults. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points for the full sample.
Image by kilcolman, via Flickr