5 reasons to keep your credit card away from your kids

When it comes to protecting yourself against credit card fraud or theft you probably worry about pick-pockets or sophisticated online scams.

The real danger could be closer to home (and closer to the ground). If your children get hold of your credit card, either directly or through one of your online accounts, you could be in for a nasty shock next time you get your bill.

Here are some examples of little spenders who left their parents out of pocket…

1. Smurfberries are on me!!

Eight-year-old Madison Kay was happily making progress through a Smurfs smartphone game back in 2010, buying up all the Smurfberries she needed. Unfortunately, while Smurfberries are make believe, they cost real money. US $1,400 ($1,530) in this case. That would have bought around 15 wagons of Smurfberries or 22kgs of real raspberries if she'd gone to Woollies.

2. Little monster loves Tiny Monsters

Six-year-old Will Smith gave his grandparents a bit of a shock when their credit card was declined at the local supermarket. It turned out his successful run on Tiny Monsters, an iPad game, had cost them £2,000 ($3,200). That could have bought little Will a business class ticket to visit his more famous namesake in LA.

3. Pleasure, reward and a nasty shock for mum

An Aussie mum was left facing a smaller but equally unexpected bill thanks to her little princess' nimble fingers. Her 9-year-old went on a 3-day spending spree on her favourite smartphone game landing mum with a $600 tab. "They tap into a child's natural sense of competitiveness," she told ABC News. "It's the whole pleasure and reward system."

4. Light-fingered green fingers

Accidental smartphone or tablet purchases are easy enough to protect against, but it's a little trickier when your son physically steals your credit card to fund his gaming habit. That's what happened to one British mother whose 12-year-old son spent more than £900 ($1,500) on the popular Facebook game, Farmville. He could have bought three real life Dexter cows on Gumtree for less than that.

5. Dad contests eye-watering bar bill

Of course, kids don't need a smartphone or tablet to put a dent in their parents' wallets. Earlier this year, a Japanese man went to court to contest a $60,000 bar bill that his 16-year-old son had run up in a series of drinking holes. The bar owners and the credit card company eventually agreed to foot some of the bill.

If you want to avoid having these sorts of problems with your little ones, you can take these five simple, precautionary steps.

1. Keep your cards out of reach of little hands. Up high and tucked away is best.
2. Check the settings on any accounts that are attached to your cards to ensure no fumbling fingertips can accidentally make purchases.
3. Teach your young ones about the value of money from an early age so they know to approach your cards with caution.
4. Only take your cards out with you when you need them. Most of the time they will be safe at home.
5. Ensure credit cards are kept in a secure slot in your wallet – they can easily slip out of loose or open pockets!