Should teens have a credit card?

Should teens have a credit card?

Long gone are the days when kids would stash their savings away in a beloved piggy bank in their bedroom. Nowadays, even the cash that used to rattle reassuringly inside them has largely disappeared in an economy dominated by the use of debit and credit cards.


According to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in 2020, only 19% of all transactions were paid in cash. Digital technology has changed the financial landscape forever, not only for parents but for their kids too.


So does this mean that teens should now have their own credit cards to manage their finances? Well, as attractive as this might seem to an enthusiastic teen consumer, it is in fact still illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to have their own credit card account, although they can be an authorized user on an adult’s account.




The pros of a teenager having their own credit card

There are some advantages for a teenager to have their own credit card:

  • They can get used to being responsible with money: According to GoHenry’s 2022 Youth Economy Report, over 70% of US and UK teens believe that earning their own money is important. So, giving a teen their own credit card to manage can be an empowering experience that helps them understand the value of money and how to budget.
  • They don’t have to ask for cash: This can be really handy if they want to buy something online or in a store. They can just use their card and not have to worry about having the correct amount of cash on them.
  • You can have visibility of what your child is spending money on: If you are the primary cardholder, you can see what your child is spending money on and help them to understand why it might be better to save up for something rather than buying it on credit.
  • They can use it in emergencies: There are also added advantages to a teen with a credit card in an emergency when neither cash nor parents are available.

The cons of a teenager having their own credit card

For any parent supporting a teenager with their own credit card, the road can be as daunting as when teaching them to drive. Here are some of the disadvantages parents may have to deal with along the line:

  • Some teens may be irresponsible with their spending: While of course, every individual is different, the enthusiasm of youth combined with the huge responsibility of managing a credit card can be a heady combination. The lure of the latest sneakers, a smartphone upgrade, or an online subscription can often seem far more important than maxing out their parent’s credit limit or paying their contribution to their parent’s monthly bill.
  • Lots of credit cards don’t have instant spending notifications: This means you may not see what teens are spending until you get your statement. This can lead to unexpected surprises, particularly if your child is using their credit card to shop online where it’s easy to spend without really thinking about it.
  • Lack of parental controls: The lack of controls means that parents may then be faced with the prospect of a hefty and very unwelcome monthly bill. Credit cards for teens, without clear education and a back-stop, can be a minefield that affects the whole family.
  • Easy for teens to rack up debt, spending money they don’t have: One of the main dangers of credit cards is that it can be easy to spend money you don’t have. This can quickly lead to debt, which can have a long-term impact on your child’s financial future.
  • You’re responsible for your teen's credit card debt: As the primary cardholder, you’re ultimately responsible for any debt your teen racks up. This means that if they can’t or don’t pay their bill, it will affect your credit score and could lead to you having to pay their debts.



The alternatives to a teen having their own credit card

There are clear advantages and disadvantages to teenagers having their own credit cards, but there are fortunately real alternatives to consider. Every parent wants their offspring to enjoy a secure financial future and so educating them in financial responsibility is a worthy endeavor.


Prepaid debit cards specifically designed for children and teens, with parental controls, is one way of beginning this journey. Limiting your teenagers' spending in this way, whilst at the same time giving them some responsibility, is a good starting point. 

GoHenry offers real solutions

GoHenry offers not only peace of mind for a parent but also the chance for your teen to be more money confident. 92% of parents say their teens are more money confident, thanks to GoHenry.


The prepaid debit card is available for kids from 6-18 years old, evolving with them as their income grows and their spending power increases.

Apps are here to stay and the functionality, accessibility and educational value of GoHenry, make it the perfect financial accessory for any teen.


Wages from employers and/or allowance from parents and gifts from friends and family can all be paid into the account. Engaging, bite-sized educational tips on spending and saving promote healthy financial management skills, and to top it all there is no risk of debt or overdraft, with its pre-paid function. 


Fingerprint and facial recognition, cyber security, and parental control to block spending in specified areas all point to a prepaid debit card where parents and kids can step more confidently into the world of finance.

How can I prepare my teen to manage their money better?

GoHenry’s Money Missions makes finance fun. Using video quizzes and a point system, kids can learn about basic budgeting, savings and borrowing, how to make a charitable donation, and even the first steps into financial investments.


It is no surprise to discover that Money Missions has been developed with financial education experts to national financial education guidelines.


Find out more about the GoHenry teen debit card.

Written by GoHenry Published Oct 21, 2022 ● 5 min. read