Studying Abroad With A Debit Card

Doug has a daughter in college. She plans to study abroad this summer. The professor is recommending a credit card to cover expenses. Dave thinks a debit card should work just fine.

QUESTION: Doug in Kalamazoo has a daughter in college, and she’s planning to study abroad this summer in Germany. Next year, she would like to go to the Netherlands. The professor is recommending a credit card to cover expenses. Dave thinks a debit card should work just fine.

ANSWER: What’s wrong with a debit card? Mine worked in Germany and in the Netherlands.

My kids got debit cards when they were 16. Your daughter is a legal adult. She ought to be able to open a checking account in her name. She ought to be able to have a debit card in her name. If she can’t, you need a different bank. My 19-year-old has one. They take the debit card in the Netherlands and Germany.

I don’t think I want my engineering professor giving me financial advice. What works best for him is he runs his finances in a normal way where he runs up credit card debt. I don’t think that’s a good idea. An 18-year-old kid running around Europe with an open line of credit in her pocket is a bad plan.

A debit card is an easy thing. Even if the debit card account has your name on it, that’s okay. You can transfer money in and out of it if you want to. You can watch the balance. I’ve got online access to my 19-year-old’s account. He’s in college. That’s how I send money to him—by online transfer. I don’t mind you being on the account, but you certainly need access to it so you can transfer money into it if she gets in trouble there. It is part of the risk of you allowing her to be over there studying.