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Parental guidance: Teens and credit cards

There are many options if you'd like your

There are many options if you'd like your teen to have a credit card. Credit: AP/Elise Amendola

Q. Is it possible to get my teen a credit card to use during the summer so he doesn't have to carry cash?

A. If you think your teen is mature enough for a credit card, there are several options, says Erik Larson, president of NextAdvisor.com, a consumer information site.

"One way to go is to make your child an authorized user on your credit card," he says. The child's name is on his card, but it's linked to the parent's account. One benefit: Your child starts building a positive credit history, Larson says. Two drawbacks: If your credit limit is, for instance, $10,000, so is the child's. "You have to trust them to use the card responsibly," Larson says. And two, if the child loses the card, you have to cancel the whole account.

A second choice is a prepaid debit card. One designed specifically for teens is the BillMyParents prepaid MasterCard, with a minimum age of 13. Parents can load an allowance on weekly, or add a lump sum so kids can shop for their summer wardrobe, for instance. Parents are texted when the card is used and can lock the card remotely. "It gives you a lot of control and monitoring," Larson says. The drawback: A monthly fee of $3.95 as well as charges each time money is loaded. "There are a lot of little fees that add up," Larson says.

Your child also could open a bank account linked to a debit card. Check your local bank for options.

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