Learning about credit and credit cards often takes trial and error. Unfortunately, those errors can ruin an 18-year-old’s credit score early on and follow him or her around for seven years, or as many as 10 years if that error happens to be bankruptcy.
There’s an easier way for kids to gain experience with credit cards before they actually use a credit card – by playing games that simulate credit card usage.
Four games that teach kids about credit
Beat Debt is a financial strategy game that lets players choose between investing their money and using it to pay down debt. The winner of the game is the first player
to pay off their credit card balance and earn $5,000 in investment balances. As players move around the board, they land on spaces that allow them to purchase land, earn money from their investments (or pay administrative fees for those investments), and pay on their credit card balances.
Charge Large is a board game by Hasbro, the makers of Monopoly and Scrabble. In Charge Large, players ‘travel around the board using cash and a gold credit card to scoop up prime properties.” The winner is the first person to have cash, a zero credit card balance, and the coveted black card.
In Celebrity Calamity, a free online game, your job is to manage a celebrity’s finances. You must sign them up for job, collect their money, pay their expenses, manage their credit card bill, and make sure their checking account balance says positive. If you fail, your celebrity will get angry and fire you. Look for credit lessons along the way, like the importance of paying your credit card balance in full to avoid interest charges.
Thrive Time for Teens is a board game that helps teens learn to make the right financial decisions. Players pull cards from a stack and make a decision based on the information. Decisions include how to pay for college, when to start a business, using cash vs. credit, or giving to charity. Positive decisions allow the player to move forward on the board, while negative decisions lead to a step back. The first player to reach the end of the board and “thrive,” wins.
Traditional board games that use credit cards
At least some of the older board games have updated versions that use a debit card rather than paper cash. Life Twists and Turns and Monopoly Electronic Banking both give players cards to house their money. The banker uses a computerized disc to transfer money to and between players. While some may criticize the games for encouraging credit card use, kids may come to realize that credit and debit cards aren’t magic – there’s actually money tied to the card and that money can be spent just like cash.