letting them do so could cost you

If you have children, you may let them play with your tablet or smart phone. But letting them do so could cost you.

A new survey from CompareCards found that 29 percent of parents have had their children under age 18 use their credit or debit cards without their permission.

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Those purchases could be prompted by a seemingly innocent activity: your child’s activity on a mobile device. If they click and enter a password, a new app, video game or other feature is theirs — but the bill is all yours.

„A lot of parents can get in trouble because their kid just kind of goes to town,“ said Matt Schulz, credit expert at CompareCards.

That comes as parents grapple with how to best guide their children with money. The survey found that 52 percent of Americans have let their children ages 18 and younger borrow their credit card or debit card to buy something online.

And 48 percent of respondents said they regretted that decision.

Men were more likely than women to feel that remorse; they were also more likely to say they were caught off guard by unexpected purchases their children made.

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CompareCards‘ online survey, undertaken in October, included 807 adults with children 18 and under.

The survey findings point to a need for families to have more direct communication about money, Schulz said.

„It’s really important that folks have those conversations with their kids and set the boundaries, set the guidelines and make sure the kid knows what’s going to happen if they drop the ball,“ Schulz said.

Adding your child as an authorized user of your credit card can be a good idea and help provide valuable money lessons, said financial advisor Roger Ma, founder of Lifelaidout.

The key is to set specific guidelines, Ma said. That includes identifying the situations in which they are allowed to use the card, the maximum amount they are allowed to spend per month, who will be responsible for paying off the balance each month and what the consequences will be if they do not follow those rules.

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To better track their activity, parents may want to consider adding their children to a new card or one they do not use as often.

„Adding a child as an authorized user could be a good way to increase a child’s financial literacy, and potentially their credit score, as long as the proper expectations are set and communicated up front,“ Ma said.

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“The top four banks in this country are charging $6.4BN in bank fees — whether they’re late fees or overdraft fees — and so I have to imagine, I don’t any data to prove this, that that money is coming from some of the most vulnerable parts of our culture,” he continues.

“And so these folks, they’re very sensitive to two things: one is the actual timing of when to pay their bills. And two, their account balances so that they don’t go under certain minimums that result in monthly fees.”

The team also found the most used existing application for couples to manage their finances together is spreadsheets — hence spying an opportunity to build something better.

“If financial literacy is bad in this country, spreadsheet literacy is almost as bad,” says park. “18 per cent of couples that we surveyed are using spreadsheets. And it was 3x over any other app or service. And so we’re setting out to build a better alternative to these spreadsheets that couples are co-managing.”

“If nothing else we’re automatically updating your balances and activity, whereas a spreadsheet can’t do that,” he adds.

A key friction point the app aims to address is to enable users to choose how much information they share.

“One of the hesitation points that we saw in a lot of the couples was that they didn’t necessary want to argue about the little things,” he explains. “Did you take Uber vs Lyft, The number one argument we read in a study was over frivolous purchases. So a lot of couples said that they want to goal set and plan but they don’t necessarily want to argue about did they make frivolous purchases. So one of the features we allow you to is we allow you to track your account balances but choose what you want to share.

“So you can choose which accounts you want to share, you can choose whether you just want to share the balance only. Or whether you also want to share activity and transactions as well.”

“We looked at… existing tools like Mint.com and others, and they are generally not collaborative in nature,” he adds. “One of the friction points for a lot of couples is choosing what they want to share with each other. Choosing how much of their finances that they want to delegate vs collaborate on.”

The Honeydue app soft launched on iOS in late January and Android in March. They have around 20,000 registered users at this point. The app is currently US-only.

“We skew female, I believe it’s 60 per cent. Which makes us relatively unique relative to other personal finance apps,” he adds.

“What’s interesting is from a generational perspective and a behavioral perspective we’re seeing that Millennials are more likely to co-manage their finances together as opposed to my