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January 14, 2022

AmEx offers credit card application to three-year-old

They say building a good credit history early is wise financial sense.

1316485_mock_credit_card_1 So, even though you’re young and can’t fully realize the risks of high-interest debt, if you can make a big purchase – a TV, furniture set or monthly cable bill – and pay it off with your credit card, it might be smart to do so.

Still, such advice generally applies to consumers 18-years or older. American Express, it appears, wants to reach the world’s spenders sooner. They just offered a credit card application to a three-year-old.

Yes, in a story that’s getting some good online pub, a CNN Money writer’s three-year-old daughter recently received an AmEx card application in the mail.

The offer was a mistake, of course (though it says something about the state of consumerism that it took the CNN scribe’s calling American Express just to make sure), but it goofily brings up a time-honoured debate: when is too young to get a credit card?

Eighteen is the age when Canadians can legally sign up for a bank card, yet many issuers will allow kids to become authorized users for their parents’ cards as early as 13.

At this age, credit cards only come “for emergencies only” or in the form of prepaid. Many U.S. companies, CNN notes, give prepaid cards in the interest of early financial education, but parents are on the hook for all charges levied on the card.

I know many people that resist credit cards well into their 20s. Then, of course, there are those that sign up right as they turn 18. There’s no right answer.

When do you think is the right age to begin responsibly using a credit card?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...