The fastest way you can build credit at 16 is by becoming an authorized user to someone else’s 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. You can’t get your own credit card account at 16 because the law prohibits issuers from offering credit cards to anyone under 18.
Most major credit card companies report authorized users’ account information to the major credit bureaus each month. Assuming the information reflects responsible use, this process will help to improve the authorized user’s credit standing, perhaps elevating it all the way to the “excellent” range over time.
However, the gains aren’t likely to come as quickly as you had your own credit card account.
Yes, authorized users do build credit. You can actually build a good or excellent credit score just as an authorized user on a credit card. When you become an authorized user, the account is added to your credit report, which means on-time payments by the primary cardholder will help you build good credit history. But because authorized users are not responsible for paying the bills, credit scores don’t give authorized user accounts as much weight. So you won’t … read full answerbuild credit as fast as an authorized as you would with your own credit card account.
Still, the fact that most credit card companies don’t have a minimum age for authorized users, means becoming one is a great way to build credit before you can get your own account. But there are a few positives and negatives you should know about before becoming an authorized user.
Here’s how authorized users build credit:
A friend or family member adds you to their credit card account as an authorized user.
The credit card account gets added to your credit reports, just like if it were your own account.
The issuer gives updated account information to the credit bureaus on a monthly basis.
Your credit standing improves if the account owner has on-time payments, low credit utilization and other signs of financial responsibility.
Your credit gets hurt if the account holder behaves irresponsibly.
You can get an account with negative information removed from your report, since you aren’t responsible for making payments.
Authorized users do build credit, but that credit can be good or bad, depending on how the primary accountholder manages balances and bill payments. So you only want to become an authorized user on an account owned by someone responsible.
But in the event that an authorized user account does end up hurting your credit, you can dispute the account to get it removed from your credit report. That’s because any mistakes made won’t be your responsibility.
Finally, you’ll build credit faster if you also have your own credit card account that you use responsibly. You can get a starter credit card once you turn 18 years old, as long as you have enough money to pay the bills.
If you have bad credit and are worried you won’t get approved, try applying for a secured credit card. Secured cards require security deposits, but they have the highest approval odds of all credit cards and accept people with bad credit.
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… read full answer.
However, 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.
Alternatives to getting a credit card if you’re under 18:
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 primary cardholder is the one 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.
Use a debit card. 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. You can track your progress with WalletHub’s free daily credit score updates.
Yes, teens should have credit cards because having one is the most efficient way to build credit history. Plus, credit history will come in handy as teenagers get older. Knowing how to handle a credit limit and reaching financial independence from an early age is a bonus. A significant number of parents agree, too. Nearly 20% of teenagers ages 13-17 have credit cards, according to a TransUnion survey.… read full answer
Key things to know before giving a credit card to a teenager:
Add them as authorized users: The only way someone under 18 years old can get a credit card is by becoming an authorized user on an adult’s account. While there is no legal minimum age requirement for an authorized user, some credit card issuers have their own age requirements.
How to build credit: Credit card companies do report to credit bureaus about authorized users, which builds credit history.
Bill payment responsibility: The primary cardholder takes on the responsibility of paying whatever debt ends up on the card, regardless of who is using the account as an authorized user. Parents who are thinking about adding their teen as an authorized user should set some rules for the card, and make sure those rules are enforced. After all, if a minor wreaks financial havoc as an authorized user on your credit account, you’re stuck with the bill.
Setting ground rules: Some credit card companies make it easy for primary cardholders to monitor spending and create boundaries for authorized users. American Express consumer credit cards allow cardholders to set spending limits as low as $200 for each authorized user. The Barclays mobile app allows primary cardholders to customize spending limits per transaction, with the option to turn certain spending categories on or off.
Benefits of getting a credit card as a teen: Teenagers who get credit cards before they’re 21 years old, either as an authorized user on someone else’s account or on their own after they turn 18, tend to have better outcomes. They’re more likely to have a higher credit score later on in life, and are less likely to default on financial obligations in the future, according to an University of Wisconsin study. Becoming financially literate is increasingly important in our modern world, and early exposure to the credit system can pay dividends.
When they turn 18, a teenager has the opportunity to apply for their own credit card, granted they have their own independent income. Many 18-year-olds have limited or no credit history, so they may be limited to a student card or a secured card. Some student cards have rewards beneficial to students, like statement credits for good grades. And they generally come with better terms than cards offered to non-students with limited credit history.
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