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What are some important credit card basics that kids should understand?


All of the choices are important basics that can help kids learn to use credit cards responsibly.

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What can make children and teens attractive targets to identity thieves?


Children and teens can be enticing targets for identity theft because they often share personal information on social media, have spotless credit histories — and they may not notice the theft for years, until they themselves apply for credit, a car loan or a driver's license.

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Key Takeaways

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When you help your children understand the basics of credit and debt, as well as the importance of protecting against identity theft, you get them closer to a more secure and responsible financial future.

  • Review your teen’s checking account with them so that they understand their responsibilities and how they can avoid bounced checks, overdraft penalties, declined transactions, or minimum balance fees
  • Help your teen treat a new debit card as an opportunity to learn how to use it responsibly; for example, by keeping track of “third-party” ATM fees, and not allowing account balances to run too low 
  • Help your child avoid some potentially painful credit mistakes by explaining the basics of how credit cards function — such as the fact that, if the balance isn’t paid off each month, they have to pay a fee (interest based on a percentage of the loan)
  • Make sure that your child knows how important it is to protect personal information, by never over-sharing on social media, by keeping their Social Security number private, and by maintaining strong passwords on sensitive accounts
  • Know that children can be choice targets for identity thieves; be on the lookout for red flags that indicate their information may be compromised, such as suddenly receiving pre-approved credit card offers in the mail