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Can my son use MY credit card while he's studying abroad?

Can my son use MY credit card while he's studying abroad?

Nov 24th, 2006, 12:30 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2004
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Can my son use MY credit card while he's studying abroad?

My son will be studying in London next semester, and traveling throughout Europe. He's new to the world of credit, and has a credit limit of only $500 on his student Visa card. Can I get a credit card in MY name and then let him take that card to Europe? (Of course my son thinks this is a great idea--he can rack up the charges while mom stays home and pays the bills!) I also plan to open a joint bank account with him and he'll take the ATM card. I'll deposit money as needed, but will keep the balance pretty low in case the card gets stolen and the account hacked. Thanks for any ideas.
lesliec1 is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 01:01 AM
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The simple answer to your first question has to be a flat no.

A foreign, presumably steam-age, card can't go through the Chip and Pin system. So it'll have to be authorised by signature, so the clerk will - in most cases - instantly notice he's not you. And that might lead to rather less pleasant consequences than just having his purchase of a bottle of Chardonnay rejected.

There will doubtless be people who'll tell you they've used other people's cards in Europe. No doubt: but it's not a reliable way of operating.

If he's got a credit card anyway, what on earth does he need another one for?Most of us managed to study and travel for a lot longer than a term without any at all. If he's got a bank card, that's more than enough.
flanneruk is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 01:09 AM
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Notify your credit card company that you want to add your son as an authorized user. They will send you a card with his name on it. As an authorized user, you (the cardholder)will be held liable for all charges unlike a joint account where the company can hold both card holders responsible. Also notify the security department of your C.C. company and your bank that these cards (ATM) will be used in Europe and for how long. If you do not notify them they may flag the accounts as fraud and block them. Just like an adult, your son may be asked to show a picture ID when using the card. This is a dying practice but merchants still have a right to ask.
parisnow is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 01:12 AM
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If you already have a credit card account, you should be able to get a second card issued with your son's name on it. When my then 18 yr old daughter was traveling around the world, I got Amex and Visa to issue a second card in her name. Charges appeared on my account, and were listed separately from my own charges.

So, it is possible, but is it wise? I made it clear to my daughter that the cards were for emergency use only. I am happy to say she did not betray my trust. If you can rely on your son not to go on a spending spree, then go ahead.
Heimdall is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 01:21 AM
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Or you can go with flan's response. Just monitor his student visa balance on line. Have it set up where you can pay his visa with funds from your bank account on line. This will allow you to cut him off if he is being irresponsible.
You may want to check out some short cell phone contracts. I use T-Mobile when traveling abroad. 99 cents a minute or 35 cents per t-message. Alot cheaper than calling parents the old fashion way.
parisnow is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 01:53 AM
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You might also ask if his credit limit can be temporarily increased while he is in Europe.
Heimdall is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 02:49 AM
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Even if your son is a very responsible young man you are courting disaster here. Both of our sons traveled in Europe. One lost a wallet, one lost a camera.......
I think the best way to help him but also limit the risk is to; first, pay off the Visa so he has the full credit line, second, monitor the account and keep it current. Ideally, you can monitor this account on the internet and do electronic transfers as needed.

Keep in mind that it may also be possible to increase the $500 limit he has with Visa by prepaying more than is owed. For instance, if he has to buy a $600 airfare you may be able to cover that by prepaying at least $100 more than he is likely to owe. This, although complicated, has the advantage of affording some protection because your/his responsibility for fraudulent charges or lost cards, etc. is limited to $50.

I think your plan of a joint account with an ATM card for him is very risky. While in theory an ATM withdrawal would not be approved for an amount greater than the current balance, things happen, and if they do, you have no limit on your responsibility to pay it. At least, put the account in his name alone. You can still make deposits or transfers to it.
GBC is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 03:13 AM
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What everyone said--get a card on your account in HIS name.
And an ATM card.
And tell him to keep HIS limited amount card as a backup in case there is a glitch in the other two. Getting that limit increased to $1000 would be good, and probably very possible.
Hacking the ATM is pretty remote and would be refundable.
Establish a link to these on the internet and keep track daily of what is going on.
What you DON'T want to have happen is him be stranded with no means to get out.
Gretchen is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 03:37 AM
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Hi L,

I suggest that the safest way would be to monitor the activity on his CC and add funds as needed - or not.

You can also open a bank account in both your names and give him an ATM card.

You don't want to expose yourself to theft of your funds.

ira is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 04:10 AM
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Get a credit card in YOUR name, and ask for an additional card in your Son's name.

I noticed during my last two trips to Europe that merchants took extra care in checking/matching signatures/names on the card.
Budman is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 04:31 AM
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Hopefully, rather than just adding him to an account, etc., etc...you'll use this opportunity to let him learn how to manage a certain number of funds.

Indulgence isn't going to lead to responsibility. It might even help if he learned how to live on a limited amount of money and knew that Mom is not coming to the rescue...the results may surprise both of you.
Dukey is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 04:59 AM
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Ever since our two daughters have been driving, we've had them carry credit cards on one of our accounts with their own name. They have the funds available in emergencies or if they need something they can't otherwise afford. Never once has either of them abused this or seen it as a source of free funds. I can not imagine preferring that they be stranded in an emergency or go without the ability to pay for something they need if we are not around.

I don't agree with the comment that this is courting disaster. If a card is lost or stolen, they need to know to report it immediately just as we would do. And the credit card limits what you have to pay in such circumstances. The time my husband's wallet was pinched in the Naples train station, a phone call to the bank from Pompeii was all it took to prevent any liability for the amount charged by the thief.
Nikki is online now  
Nov 24th, 2006, 06:03 AM
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Totally agree with Nikki. I would add that if carrying two cards (and no companion) carry them in different "locations" on the body/"purse" so they both don't go with one mishap. That IS courting disaster. AND a $100 traveller's check tucked "somewhere" accessible--the ONE use for TC's.
Gretchen is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 06:31 AM
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If you want another credit card, it seems safer (not to distrust your son, for all kinds of reasons) so open another seperate account. I don't see any benefit to having him tied to your primary account, and I do see many opportunities for problems.

What about a pre-loaded travel type debit cards instead? I know there are fees involved and it is not generally the most economical, but in this situation would serve to cover emergencies.
suze is online now  
Nov 24th, 2006, 06:52 AM
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Thank you for your excellent input on this. The reason I'm planning on getting a new credit card account rather than just getting an extra card in my son's name on my current acct. is that my credit card has 3% fees on overseas transactions. I can get a credit card through the NEA with only 1% fees. This will be good for his trip, and also if I manage to scrape up enough money to visit him while he's abroad. I know it sounds like I'm bankrolling a possibly spoiled and potentially irresponsible young man on his European jaunt, but my son has grown up fully aware of the tight financial constraints that I--as a single mom of 2, and now putting both of them through college at the same time--have. And I certainly have shown him BUDGET travel during his formative years! (See our now ancient trip report "Trip Report: Mom and Teens Back From Fabulous European Vacation..." threadselect.jsp?fid=2&tid=34513204
--sorry I don't know how to make it link). My thinking on the separate bank account with ATM was for the sake of safety to keep it apart from other savings. The account probably should be in my name because mostly it will be my money going into it, and if it's in his name, it could negatively affect his financial aid status at college. Also, I will be looking for a bank that charges lower non-network ATM fees than those at our current bank. Thank you all for your continued suggestions! And OMIGOD look at the exchange rate for GBPs!!! Yow! --Leslie
lesliec1 is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 07:01 AM
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Hi L,

>sorry I don't know how to make it link<

If you can bring up a thread, RIGHT click on the title.

Click copy

You can then paste the link wherever you wish with CTRL+V

ira is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 07:16 AM
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I don't think you are bankrolling anything like an irresponsible young man. I think you are aiding his education immensely and he is lucky. And I'll bet he knows that.
Check the fine print of the NEA card--other credit cards have JUST begun to reveal all the added costs. Credit unions are well known NOT to add these--don't know if that is a "fit" for you.
Don't be bashful about going to your bank and asking them to waive the ATM fees. If you have a long history with the bank, they may well do that, as well as for the reason he will be using it.
And along with that, tell your son that the fees are on a per withdrawal basis and he should budget for this--learn to handle his cash so that there are fewer withdrawals (one week, for example?). Lots of learning possibilities here.
Gretchen is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 07:25 AM
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Leslie, your plan sounds good to me. Just make sure the bank issues a second card in your son's name.

Most of the negative responses to your post were probably due to your question: "Can I get a credit card in MY name and then let him take that card to Europe?"

Yow! is almost the same expression I used when I saw the $/£ exchange rate this morning. As someone living in the UK on a $ income, I follow the rates closely. Let's hope they come down a bit by the time your son gets here.
Heimdall is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 08:15 AM
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My neice lived in Europe twice. The first time she was in London working for six months and then spent last year studying in Copenhagen. He dad had an account set up for her at his credit union (no, or very small fees). She used her debit card for almost everything. My brother could moniter her account and would put $ in as needed. This seemed to work pretty well. He could moniter her spending etc. She had a credit card also and that was her thing and that's a whole other story.
crefloors is offline  
Nov 24th, 2006, 11:12 AM
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We organized for both of my stepdaughters to have cards issued in their name on both my AmEx and one of my Visa cards. (Their father's are company cards and it wouldn;t work.)

The company can do it immediately, the charges are reported separately - and it solved the problem of them each having just one card with a minimal limit. Also be sure he has either another card on your ATM or an ATM account into which you can transfer funds if necessary.

This worked fine for us - not having to worry that they would be caught with one or the other cards not working in a particular place. And they knew before the trip what they could charge - since they had to pay the bills themsleves. (They were using our credit cards - but not our money.)

Unless you son is completely irresponsible this is the simplest way to do it. If he's not used to using cards for everything suggest that use an internet cafe every few days to see what his charges are - so he dosn't get any unhappy surprises.

(As for him being too irresponsible to have the cards - if he's THAT irresponsible he sholdn;t be studying aborad - much bigger issues to cope with than just paying bills.)
nytraveler is offline  

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