Credit Card Bill Empowers Parents, Handicaps College Students

New restrictions make it harder for those under 21 to get cards.

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Michelle Singletary in the Washington Post on the new law signed by President Obama that requires persons under 21 to get a parent to co-sign (or have a job with "sufficient income") in order to get a credit card:

And don't give me that baloney about young adults needing a credit card to build a good credit history or to learn to handle credit. Those are reasons that have been fed to you by the credit card companies. It's a self-serving argument. There's plenty of time for young people to get and use a credit card. They have a whole lifetime of buying now and paying later. Let them spend their younger years learning to live within the limitations of the cash they have.

But in my story on the subject that just went online, I found that you don't have to be working for a credit card company to believe that it's important to start a credit history before one turns 21.

What's more, once someone obtains a credit card, there's a six-month period before the person's credit is considered "scoreable." Even some defenders of the new requirements agree that it's important to start building a credit history early. "If you can't qualify on your own, get a part-time job," advises Campbell.

It makes sense, if you think about it. I and most everyone I know was either thinking about renting an apartment or actually tried to do so by the time we were 21. In most cases you need a credit history to do that. The people who won't have a problem under the new law are people who are lucky enough to have parents who are willing to either co-sign for a card or co-sign for an apartment (and if they're willing to do one, I would guess they're likely to do both.) I was lucky enough to have been one of these people.  But that's not everyone.