This is a guest post from Beverly Harzog, who is a spokeswoman and contributing editor at credit card comparison website CardRatings.com.
When I first heard about Kim Kardashian’s new prepaid credit card targeted at teens, I wanted to scream. If you have a teenager, you understand why. As a parent, I’d rather Kim not get involved when it comes to teaching my kids about money.
Now, I’ll admit that part of my reaction comes from my own bias. I once wrote a story about Kim when she was being sued for unauthorized use of a credit card. Brandy Norwood’s mom had said she gave Kim her credit card and authorized one purchase. Kim allegedly used the card and racked up over $120,000 in purchases. Kim says she was given permission and the suit got settled. But still, how can anyone go out and put that much debt on a credit card? And on someone else’s credit card?
So my urge to scream is partly related to the role model issues here. I find it odd that Kim picked credit cards as a new way to make money and get media coverage. Doesn’t buying a shopping mall or maybe a small island in the Pacific seem like a better fit for her skill set?
Targeted at teens
Another thing that really bugs me is the fact that Kim’s card — excuse me, kard — is being marketed to teens as young as thirteen. This is, in my opinion, reprehensible. I believe in teaching teens who are at least sixteen how to handle plastic while they’re still living under your roof. When my daughter was sixteen, she got a debit card linked to her checking account. She was responsible for buying her gas and other personal items.
Yes, there were a few bumps in the road, but that’s why it’s good to introduce them to plastic while they’re still at home. So you can guide them through the process of responsible credit behavior. Over time, my daughter graduated to a prepaid debit card, which she uses while at college. Next, we might try a secured credit card when I think she’s ready. The important thing is that parents need to wait until their kids are mature enough for the hard lessons they will learn about plastic to sink in. And yes, there will be some hard lessons learned.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with a little “glamorizing” when it comes to finances, but the focus needs to stay on keeping teens and young adults informed and grounded in reality. And Kim is nowhere near reality. Reality TV, maybe. But that’s as close as she gets.
Let’s go shopping!
And here’s a perfect example of how Kim lives in a world far, far away from our own normal lives. This ABC News story reports that the Kardashian Kard was officially launched last night with a lavish party at a New York City night club complete with $15 cocktails and go-go dancers. Kim seems fairly oblivious that her target market would not be allowed to enter such an environment. From the party, she tweeted this to her 5 million-plus followers: “Thx 4 coming out 2 support our Kardashian MasterKard! Let’s go shopping!”
So what will I say if my teen asks for the Kardashian Kard? Sorry, Kim, but my teen isn’t going shopping with you. And when my daughter gets a secured credit card, it most definitely won’t have Kim’s face on it.
How about you? What will you say to your kid?
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