The smart way to help your child get a credit card

Anyone who wants a credit card before they turn 21 needs to have a cosigner or prove they have the means to pay the bills. That's one of the provisions of the CARD Act of 2009.

Congress did this to protect kids who might get into financial trouble early in life. But many financial experts say its OK for a responsible teen to have a credit card.

"Teaching someone how to use credit is best done at home in a controlled environment," said John Ulzheimer, consumer credit expert at"

He suggests adding your teen as an "authorized user" to your account. He calls it "a credit card with training wheels." Your son or daughter has a card with its own number, but all the charges show up on your statement, so you stay in control.

"Not only are you helping them to build and establish a credit history, but you're also giving them the means and the capacity to use a card if they have an emergency or if they want to use something on campus or if you're giving them permission to use it for certain types of expenses," Ulzheimer explained.

If your child abuses the privilege and act irresponsibly, you can cancel the card and kick them off the account at any time.

More Info: Surprise: Kids more responsible with credit than assumed