You can get a credit card at 17 as an authorized user, but you have to be at least 18 years old to open a credit card account in your own name. And when you turn 18, you’ll need to show that you have your own independent income to qualify. In the meantime, you can begin to build credit as an authorized user or with a co-signed loan, and you can always use a debit card for everyday purchases.
Here’s what you can get instead of a credit card at 17:
Authorized user card: If someone makes you an authorized user on their card, the account will be added to your credit report. And if the main accountholder pays the monthly bills on time, your credit score will improve. The main accountholder may or may not decide to give you a card that you can use to charge purchases to the account. But you won’t be responsible for making payments either way.
Co-signed loan: You’re highly unlikely to get a loan by yourself as a minor, but if you have an adult co-signer, the lender will look at their credit and income when deciding whether to approve. That’s because the co-signer is legally responsible for paying if you don’t. This option allows you to build credit.
Debit card: Most banks will give you a debit card connected to your checking account. You’ll be spending your own cash, not borrowing money, so you don’t need to be 18 to get one. Different banks have different rules, but most require you to be 13 or 14 years old. You won’t build credit with a debit card, but having one can make life more convenient until you turn 18.
So to recap, you can’t get a credit card at 17, at least not one of your own. But if you find someone to back you, then you can start building credit right away. And in just a year, you’ll be eligible for student cards, secured cards and other options for people new to credit.