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Published on August 18th, 2007 | by Alex and Brett Harris

Giving Teens Credit

Giving Teens CreditMuchMusic teams up with MasterCard to launch a new payment card aimed at teenagers as young as 13. Andrea Gordon, family issues reporter for The Toronto Star, wonders whether prepaid cards and credit cards aimed at the youth market are really about conditioning kids to accumulate debt.

This article raises many important issues in the area of teens and financial responsibility and gives a glimpse into some of the traps our society has set for teens who don’t know how to manage money. There are big companies making big bucks off of a culture that encourages instant-gratification and self-indulgence in its young people — whether they can afford it or not.

Alex and I are planning to get credit cards soon, but we’re going to use them sparingly and strategically, paying them off in full every month, with the goal of building our credit rating. Hopefully the following article will help spark your thinking as you develop similar strategies of money management.

Giving teens credit – Andrea Gordon – 08/28/07

Meet Danny, a typical teen. Except when he first flashes across the TV screen, he’s kneeling in a playpen. A caption introduces him as “Recovering Momma’s Boy.” Seconds later, Danny is in a highchair, protesting, “I’m not a baby, mom!”

Switch to voiceover and Danny sums up his problem: “I really wasn’t in control of my life.” Enter the MuchMusic Prepaid MasterCard. The baby equipment disappears. Danny, now a big boy, tells us his new card means freedom. Money matters are “as easy as loading it and spending it.”

MuchMusic, which joined forces with MasterCard this spring to launch the new payment card aimed at teenagers as young as 13, sure knows its target market. The last thing adolescents want is to be treated like children. They are struggling to exert their independence. And they’re also bigger spenders than ever before, online and in malls. Both companies are hoping to cash in on that combination.

Not long ago, financial institutions didn’t much care about the under-18 set. But younger teens, now acknowledged as the driving force behind family spending decisions on items ranging from cars to fast food, have become a sought-after group in a card-saturated marketplace.

As well as being big consumers, today’s kids have been raised in an era when debt at a young age is considered inevitable rather than something to be avoided, especially for post-secondary students. So it’s not a surprise that lenders want to build brand loyalty early with these future borrowers.

Read the entire article »

Once you have read the entire article come back here and join the conversation. Below you will find some discussion questions to get you started.

We would also encourage you to have a discussion with your family about this issue. Ask your parents what they wished they’d known about money at your age and discuss what the Bible has to say about all this.

It is never too early to develop a biblical view towards money — especially in a culture that is coming after us early. If you have never really thought or read about this issue before, now would be a good time to start.

  • What is your financial situation? Do you have a steady income? Do you spend much? Do you save much? Have you ever invested your money?
  • Do you have a credit, debit, or prepaid card? If so, how have you used it? What do you think about teens using them?
  • How do you manage your money? Have you ever created a budget?
  • What do you think about going into debt?


About the Author

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.

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