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.
Only as an authorized user, really. To be fair though, if I had a credit card at 16, I would've been in debt faster than you can say "collection"! And I think it's fine, you don't really want huge debt looming over you at such a young age.
There are credit cards are available for high school students. But until you’re 21 years old, you’ll have to meet one of two requirements. You’ll have to have an income, one that demonstrates your ability to pay back the debt. Or, have a co-signer at least 21 years old on the application. The co-signer agrees to assume responsibility for your account, meaning they’re liable for any of your unpaid debt.… read full answer
These requirements are mandated under the Credit Card Act of 2009. Its intent is to prevent teenagers and young adults from running up credit card debts they can’t pay back. So, if you’re under 21 and have the income or a co-signer, you have a number of credit card options to help you begin building credit.
As student credit cards are limited to those enrolled in college, you can choose a traditional credit card designed for people with limited credit. An alternative would be a secured credit card. They’re easier to get than secured credit cards, and typically don’t come with any fees. But you will have to put down a security deposit to open the account. The amount of the deposit determines your credit limit and is fully refundable when you close the account in good standing.
Here are some good high school credit cards:
Capital QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases. $39 annual fee.
Discover it Secured: Minimum $200 deposit required. 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 annually. No annual fee.
Capital One Platinum: Eligible for increased credit limit when you pay your bill on time for the first 5 months. No annual fee.
Citi Secured Mastercard: Minimum $200 deposit required. No annual fee.
If you still don’t have an income or a co-signer, you can sign on to another person’s existing credit card account as an authorized user. You’ll receive a card with your name that’s linked to the primary cardholder. You’ll be able to use the primary cardholder’s good credit history to help build your own. The drawback is, if the primary cardholder’s credit score takes a dive, yours will also take a negative hit.
The simple answer is that you can’t get a credit card under 18. The more complicated answer is that you can still build credit, just not with an account that’s in your own name. You’ll have to ask a family member to be an authorized user on their credit card account. This will allow you to make purchases, assuming the primary accountholder decides to give you a card. And it will help you … read full answerbuild credit, as long as they pay the bills on time.
Here’s how to get a credit card under 18 (and other options):
Become an authorized user: If you know someone else who has a credit card (like your parent) you can become an authorized user on their credit account. You’ll get your own card that’s connected to the cardholder’s account, and any purchases you make will show up on their statement. The cardholder is also responsible for paying. This is a great way to build credit, although you won’t build it as quickly as you would with your own card.
Take out a loan. Credit-builder loans are sometimes available to people under 18 who have a cosigner (someone with established credit who takes responsibility if you default). But it will be more difficult than getting a loan at age 18.
Just use debit. You can’t build credit with debit cards, but they can make everyday spending more convenient. And there’s no need to worry about going into debt because you’ll be spending the money from your checking account, not borrowing anything.
You’ll definitely need to wait until you’re 18 to get a credit card account in your own name. But being an authorized user is still a very useful way to build credit and practice using a credit card responsibly. Then, once you turn 18, you’ll already have some credit history and may be eligible for better offers right off the bat. And you can track your progress with WalletHub’s free daily credit score updates.
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