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Personal Finances / Credit Cards and Consumer Debt


Subject:  Re: Credit Card for College Freshman Date:  5/29/2007  3:09 PM
Author:  alaskack Number:  253751 of 312187

Here's my past experience with college and credit cards. Son #1, opened a new account with my and his name on it. The idea was for him to have a card for emergencies. While he was in college, he received a cc application which he was accepted with a card in his own name. No problems with charging on either card and the joint card was closed a year or two later.

Son #2 received an offer after HS graduation. Applied and made the mistake of being a co-signer for the card. Son #2 used the card unwisely and it shows up on my credit report (may be off now since I received a letter saying they no longer offer that type of account). In any case, we forced him to close that account when he got a new card.

Son #3 also received an offer after HS, but this time no co-signer. He used his card wisely too. The only problem was the low limit. We wanted them to have a card in case they needed to fly home in an emergency. His limit was low enough that he could only do that if he had a near $0 balance. Had him apply for a second card which gave him a $1,500 limit (the first card later matched that limit, after hearing a recorded message they wern't increasing limits at that time).

So from experience, we've had mixed results, two good and one bad. The main thing is that you can't keep an eye on him financially if he doesn't want you to do it. First off, the college will not share information with you (unless you can get written permission from your son). Your son will get card offers in school so he can open a new account without your knowledge. Of our three, two were secretive on their finances. One planned well and let us know months in advance if he needed additional loan funds. The other let us know a week or two before tuition was due.

My suggestion would be to see if he gets any card offers after graduation and have him apply on his own. He should be working this summer so he can put that down a monthly income number. If he get no offers or is declined, open a joint account (not a co-signed account), so you can at least monitor that he pays on time. Once he builds a credit history, he should get offers for a card in his own name.

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