The only way to get a credit card when you’re under 18 years old is to become an authorized user on an adult’s credit card account. You cannot get your own credit card account until you turn 18 and you’re able to demonstrate enough independent income to make monthly bill payments. But being an authorized user will help you build credit in the meantime, as long as the primary accountholder pay the bills by the due date.
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.
Yes, you can add your teenager to your credit card as an authorized user, but the teen’s age will matter to some credit card companies. American Express and Discover require authorized users to be at least 15 years old, for example, while U.S. Bank requires them to be 16. But lots of credit card companies do not have an age requirement for authorized users, including Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Capital One, Wells Fargo, USAA, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC Bank, TD Bank, and First National.… read full answer
Adding your teenager to your credit card account can help both you and your teenager, as long as you manage the account responsibly. Your teen will begin building credit history, even if you never hand them a card. And if you do decide to give them a card, they could learn some great early credit lessons – with your tutelage, of course. Plus, if you add your teenager to a rewards credit card, whatever the teenager spends will add to your rewards.
That said, there are plenty of ways for this scenario to go badly, too. If you give your teenager a credit card, there’s a real possibility that they’ll use it to buy things you’d never authorize them to buy, and you’ll be on the hook for the charges. Or, if you don’t use your account responsibly, all the negative information added to your credit report will also end up on your teenager’s report if they’re an authorized user. The damage doesn’t have to be permanent, though. Authorized users have the right to request removal from the account and dispute the negative information, which will remove that information from their credit report.
Plus, if you make your payments on time and make sure your teenager knows what the card should (and shouldn’t) be used for, you’ll likely avoid the pitfalls.
You can’t get your own credit card account at 16 because the law prohibits issuers from offering credit cards to anyone under 18 years old. The only way to get access to a credit card at 16 years old is if a friend or family member makes you an authorized user… read full answer 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.
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.
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 … read full answerbuild credit as an authorized user, 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.
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 credit cards, secured credit cards and other options for people new to credit.
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