You can’t get a credit card at 16, at least not your own account. The law prohibits issuers from offering credit cards to anyone under 18. And even then, you’ll need your own income to qualify. These restrictions prevent minors and young adults from taking on unmanageable amounts of debt due to inexperience or youthful impulsiveness.
But you can get a credit card at 16 if a friend or family member makes you an authorized user on their account. You won’t be responsible for bill payments as an authorized user, but you will build credit as long as the primary cardholder pays on time. That’s not the only way to get access to credit in your teens, either.
Here are the alternatives to getting a credit card at 16:
Become an authorized user: There’s no minimum age requirement for authorized users.
Get a job and wait two years: You can get your own credit card account when you’re 18, as long as you have enough independent income for monthly bill payments. You should get a student credit card if you go to college, as they tend to have much better terms than other starter credit cards. A secured credit card is a good backup plan, too.
Get a debit card: This won’t help you build credit, and you won’t be able to borrow money. But a debit card linked to your checking account will free you from having to carry cash all the time.
You can get a credit card at 16. You just can’t get an account in your own name. But if someone is willing to add you as an authorized user, you can start learning about, using and building credit. And in a couple years, you’ll be able to get your first card.