Lesson Idea: Should Your Students Get A Credit Card In College (or sooner)?

Aug 19, 2014

One great way to tackle this important question is to have students prepare for a class debate.  It would be best to have students research the position that are naturally opposed to.  So, if they think they want a credit card in college, have them research reasons why they should NOT get a credit card.  

How to get students more excited about this project?  Based on current law, they will likely not be able to get a credit card until they are 21 UNLESS they can convince their parents to co-sign their credit card application.  This debate will be helpful in both bolstering the argument on why they should get a card and also prepare them for objections they may get from their parents.  

Here are some articles/videos that you can assign groups of students to prepare for the debate:

Position:  College Students Should Have A Credit Card

  • Article:  4 Reasons Why College Students Need A Credit Card (Fox Business)
  • Article:  The Case for College Students To Have Credit Cards (US News and World Report)
  • Video:  College Students and Credit Cards (ABC News)

Position:  College Students Should Not Have A Credit Card

  • Article:  Why Credit Cards Are Bad For College Students (WSJ Blog)
  • Article:  Nine Reasons to Say “No” to Credit (Investopedia)
  • Video:  Credit Card Song (YouTube)

Data to support either position

  • Credit Card Activity for College Students (CardHub)

Here is one idea on how you might want to structure your debate.  Feel free to share your best practices for debates too… 

  • Create groupings of four students who are each assigned one position (class of 24 would have 3 groups that support having a credit card and 3 groups in favor of NOT having a credit card.  
  • Each student in the group is responsible for one resource (there are two articles, one video and data).  Note:  the WSJ Blog article is quite short so that student may want to help the data person.  
  • Once students have highlighted the key points from these resources, they reconvene and share the information with their group.  
  • A notetaker in the group highlights the key points the group wants to make during the debate.  
  • Have each group debate another group with an opposing viewpoint.  Decide on appropriate times for opening statement, rebuttals and closing arguments. 

It would be great to have students reflect on the debate in a written assignment asking them:

1)  Do they think they will get a credit card in college?  Why or why not?

2)  Did this debate change their thinking on this decision?  Why?




About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.