The best way to get credit cards for minors is to add them as an authorized user. A minor cannot get their own credit card account. You must be at least 18 years old to do so. But all major credit card companies allow customers to get authorized-user credit cards for minors. Many don’t even have a minimum age for authorized users.
An authorized user is granted access to another person’s credit card account. The user can make purchases on the account and build credit. But they will not have to make monthly payments. The primary cardholder is responsible for all transactions charged to the card, including those made by an authorized user.
A parent can add their child as an authorized user as soon as they think the child is ready to learn about financial responsibility. Or, they could add them even earlier than that and just not allow them to use the card. That way, even an infant could build credit history. And once the minor does get spending access, the primary cardholder can usually set limits on the user’s spending.
Adding a minor as an authorized user is simple. You’ll need only the minor’s name, birthdate, and in some cases, Social Security number. Make sure you and the minor you’re thinking of adding to your account are aware of the potential benefits and risks of authorized users before you add them.
Here’s the best way to get credit cards for minors:
- Add the minor as an authorized user. Becoming an authorized user is the best way to get credit cards for minors. Legally, minors are unable to get their own credit card.
- Check age requirements. Most issuers don’t have an age restriction for authorized users. Amex has a minimum age of 13 years old, depending on the card. Barclays sets its minimum age at 13 years old. Discover and U.S. Bank require at least 15 and 16 years old, respectively.
- Keep transactions separate. Consider adding an authorized user to a credit card you don’t use all that often. That makes it easier to monitor the minor’s spending.
- Monitor credit activity: When an authorized user gets added to a credit card account, the card activity goes on their credit reports. If the minor has no previous credit history, their first credit score will be generated within the first six months. The score depends on how responsibly the card is used.
- Don’t miss payments or pay late: Missed payments cause credit score damage for both the primary cardholder and the authorized user. But authorized users can dispute accounts with negative information to have them removed from their credit reports.
An authorized user is limited to making purchases on the account. They typically are unable to do balance transfers or take out cash advances. Only the primary cardholder can make changes to the account like requesting a credit limit increase or adding additional users. The primary cardholder can call the issuer’s customer service department to remove an authorized user from their account. An authorized can be removed for any reason.
Becoming an authorized user is the only way to get credit cards for minors in order to establish credit. Once an authorized user is no longer a minor, they can add their own credit card account to the mix.
Shoot for one with high approval odds and a low annual fee. People applying for their first credit card at age 18 should consider cards for no credit or secured cards if they don’t have credit history already. College students can also consider student cards, which give better terms because of students’ higher earning potential.