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Parents of teenagers know this is the last phase of their children's lives before they leave the nest, which means it's important to get them fully prepared for the responsibilities of adulthood. Getting a credit card and establishing a credit history are two things that parents can help their teens with, and many of the major credit card networks all have products designed especially for teens to help them learn how to use credit cards responsibly.

Most of these offerings are really prepaid cards with the network logo, which allow your teen to use them just like a credit card. However, instead of it being an actual credit card, the prepaid card can help teens understand the concepts of budgeting and credit limits without actually running up debt that will take years to pay off. These cards also have features that help parents understand how their children are spending money.

American Express PASS
American Express' teen-focused card product is a reloadable prepaid card called PASS that parents can give to their children who are age 13 and up. Upon getting the card, parents put a minimum of $25 onto the card, and they can add up to $2,500. To load money onto the card, parents can transfer money through their savings or checking accounts, use direct deposit or put cash on the card. Amex does warn that third-party vendors who load cash onto cards may charge fees for doing so.

The card can be used for purchases in stores worldwide and online, wherever American Express cards are accepted. Teens may also use it at ATMs. American Express gives one free ATM withdrawal each month but charges $2 for additional ATM withdrawals.

PASS cards do have some restrictions. They cannot be used on cruise lines, at casinos or car rental agencies. Also, the card is not available for sale in Arkansas, Vermont or outside the U.S.

MasterCard MYSPLASH
The MasterCard MYPLASH reloadable prepaid card offers teens a way to expressthemselves through their cards. They can choose from many designs, including Emily the Strange, Flo Rida, Paul Frank, Skelanimals, Tapout, Twilight and more. Teens can use MYPLASH wherever MasterCard debit cards are accepted, and they can also get discounts and special offers through the MYPLASH Mall.

Although the MYPLASH card has no activation fee, it does come with a $4.95 monthly fee and another $4.95 charge for every time you reload the card online via credit or debit card, or at retail. This reload fee is waived if you add funds through direct deposit or link the card to a checking account. However, be warned that for the first 90 days you have the card, you can only load $50.00 at a time, and those must be by either credit or debit card.

People can load money on the card up to two times a month, with a minimum load of $10 and a maximum of $250. $250 is also the maximum amount of money that can be put on the card each month.

Visa Buxx
With the Visa Buxx card, parents can load money onto the card either online, by phone, or through an automatic transfer from a checking or credit card account. The amount they add then acts as a credit limit on their child's spending. Teens can use the card just like a traditional Visa debit card. With the online account feature, both parents and teens can track the purchases made with the card and view the balance.

Fees may apply for this product as well, depending on the issuer. These can include fees to use the ATM or make ATM balance inquiries, an enrollment fee and an inactivity fee, among others.

Many credit card issuers, such as banks and credit unions, also have card products for the teen market that will get their feet wet in the world of managing money and using plastic wisely. Check with your local financial institution to see if they have any of these products for your children.