A new bill is making it hard for people under the age of 21 to get a credit card.
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act — signed into law by President Barack Obama on May 22 — requires those under 21 who wish to obtain a credit card to prove they can repay the money or have a parent or guardian signed on to be responsible for the debt.
While the bill has good points, such as eliminating surprise fees and interest rate increases by credit card companies, it restricts the independence of young adults.
Teenagers are infamous for their poor spending habits, but after they turn 18, it is their right as adults to have a credit card without their parents’ approval.
Parents’ role in their children’s credit-card management should end when they reach adulthood.
There are numerous things parents can do to prepare their children for the responsibility, including getting the child a prepaid, debit or low-limit credit card, according to a MSN Money personal finance column by Liz Pulliam Weston.
College is an ideal time to build credit. A college student should apply for a credit card in his or her own name since credit is harder to establish once a student graduates, probably because lenders realize that graduates are less likely to be bailed out by their parents, said Dara Duguay, author of Please Send Money, A Financial Survival Guide for Young Adults on Their Own, to MSN.
If a student’s parent or guardian won’t co-sign for a credit card, then the student must show “independent means of repaying any obligation,” or that they earn enough money regularly.
This can be a significant problem for students, many of whom work odd jobs or get money from scholarships or loans, rather than a regular paycheck.
The right to have one’s own credit card should come at 18. Going over the card’s limit and suffering the consequences provides a life lesson on the value of money that can’t be learned from a book or a lecture from parents. Such an event can be the wake-up call that helps a young person make the transition from reckless teen to responsible adult.
The sort of coddling this bill represents inhibits the development of responsibility for those who need it and is an insult to those teenagers who have proven themselves able to manage their money.