It’s All About the Debit Card, Baby

Birthday wish list for a 16-year-old: new car, new cell phone, later curfew, debit card? Not just for shopaholics, debit cards can serve as a transition into the world of grown-up finance, something that all teenagers should be prepared for.

Having a debit card teaches lessons of money management, responsibility and self-control, all three of which are beneficial qualities to have for the future.

While some believe credit card are the way to go, debit cards are more suitable for “new cardholders.”

According to, one in three teenagers use debit cards and half are in their own names.

They are handier because money is subtracted from the account immediately and there are no extra charges. Credit cards are less suitable due to bank fees and interests.

Many do understand the temptations and dangers credit cards could lead to.

“I like the debit card better because credit cards can be dangerous,” senior Stacey Elder said. “I could see myself charging everything and then not having enough money to pay the bill when it came.”

If a student has their own card, they avoid the possibility of not having money with them at all  times.

“If I forget money at home, I know I can just put it on my card and it won’t be that big a deal,” senior Alyssa Biondi said.

Students do not have to rely on constantly asking their parents for money for every single item. Whether it is their own money or money allocated by their parents, students have the convenience of having quick and easy access to money.

Another benefit of having a debit card is independence.

“I had a little more freedom,” junior Maddie Freeman said. “I didn’t always have to ask my mom, ‘Can I have 20 bucks … again?”

The main lessons learned are responsibility and money management. Having a debit card in one’s wallet teaches teens to make smart choice about when and where to use it and to learn the importance of saving. They know that they will run out of money if they use their cards excessively.

Admittedly, things seem much more tempting to buy when one has their own debit card to pay for it. However, it’s important to know the right times to use it.

“By [16] you should know what is right and wrong, if you should buy it or not,” Alyssa said. “It’s a lot of maturity that you have to use when you have a card.”

Many students understood this lesson and did not use their debit card for really expensive things.

“I just bought simple things — Starbucks lattes, other food or small purchases like a book,” Maddie said.

With students spending money, it is important that they learn how to manage what they have and become more responsible.

“Every month, I see how much I have spent and I have to always remind myself that I need to make sure I save my money,” Alyssa said. “I can’t just go and spend it on anything that I want.”

By keeping track of what they’re spending and when they are spending, teens develop money skills. Money doesn’t last forever, especially in the hands of a teen, so the sooner teens learn this, the sooner they will be ready for the real world, especially college.

Many feel having a debit card at this stage will teaching important lessons at the right time.

“It is good to start trying to keep track of your own finances … to try and learn how to manage your money when you are younger rather than when you get older,” Stacey said.

With the characteristics and lessons that teens will develop, having a debit card will be more beneficial than hurtful.