How to Help Build Your Teenager’s Credit Score: 4 Tips

Mother and teen son check the teenager's credit score

When your teen finally reaches high school graduation, they’re going to need a solid credit score for their next steps in life: renting an apartment, getting a loan or finding a good deal on insurance. For that reason, it’s important that teens build up their credit scores before they move out.

There are a few ways you can help your teenager build his or her credit in the years leading up to their graduation.

Tip 1: Sign Your Teenager Up for a Debit or Credit Card

Getting your teen started with their own bank account is a significant step in building their credit score without ditching their safety net. A teenager under 18 years old can still sign up for a debit card; they just need a co-signer.

Since you are co-signing on the card, your personal account will be linked to your teen’s in case of an overdraft.

If you’re not comfortable signing your teen up for a debit card with your bank, consider a retail credit card.

Jean Folger, a contributor at Investopedia, recommends retail and gas credit cards since they are easier to get approval for.

“Be sure to ask if the card requires payment in full each month or if it allows minimum payments,” says Folger. “If the card must be paid in full each month, it may not be reported as revolving, and therefore will not help your teen’s credit.”

Folger also suggests that regardless of requirements, teens should be encouraged to pay off their debts in full each month.

Related: Six simple strategies to help you boost your credit score >>

Tip 2: Teach Your Teen Credit Card Basics

Credit cards are a bit more complex than debit cards, so it’s important to sit down with your teen and help them understand the basics.

Signing them up for their own credit card is a bigger step than signing up for a debit card, but it’s an additional step that will help boost their credit score — assuming they pay the bills on time and in full.

U.S. News & World Report contributor Amelia Granger says that the most critical skill a teen can learn is to pay their bills in full, even if that means starting with a smaller credit limit.

Make sure you are monitoring your teen’s bills to confirm they’re not damaging their credit score rather than building a good foundation for the years ahead.

Tip 3: Add Your Teen as a Joint User to Your Own Credit Card Account

If you’re not ready to sign your teen up for their own card just yet, consider adding them as a joint user to your own account. This will give them a card of their own with access to the account for emergencies, errands or other needs.

“If you want to be doubly careful, add them as an authorized user without actually giving them the card for use,” suggests Devishobha Ramanan, a writer for the Huffington Post.

However, keep in mind that if you are struggling with your own credit score, adding your teen to your account could end up damaging their score as well.

Related: See why college students Jenny and Joe Trzaska chose Minster Bank >>

Tip 4: Follow Up with Your Teenager to Build Their Credit Score

As a parent, it’s imperative that you keep an eye on your teen’s progress. Without understanding the ins and outs of credit and the implications of not paying your credit card bills, a teen could end up damaging their credit score significantly.

Follow up with your teen each month to make sure they pay their bill in full, understand their responsibilities and are comfortable with the process.

Help Your Teen Start Off on the Right Financial Foot

Teens don’t have to start building credit on their own. As a parent, you can help them start off on the right foot. Minster Bank offers a variety of options for teens just starting out, including:

Learn more about the credit card options your teen could apply for or reach out to your local Minster Bank location with any questions.

Learn more >>


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