How Old Do You Have to Be to Get Your Own Credit Card?

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ByRajiv Baniwal
Reviewed byLee Huffman
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ByRajiv Baniwal
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Reviewed byLee Huffman
Edited byErika Hearthway
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Updated: March 19, 2024

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Getting a credit card on your own becomes possible at 18 years old, although eligibility requirements become laxer when you turn 21. Children below 18 years of age may become authorized users on their parents’ cards. However, it’s important to determine if they’re ready to take the plunge into the world of credit ahead of time.

Credit card age requirements for adding authorized users vary from one card issuer to another. For example, while American Express lets you add a child as an authorized user after their 13th birthday, Bank of America has no minimum age requirement.

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MoneyGeek’s Takeaways

You need to be at least 18 years of age to get a credit card in your own name.

Applicants 18 to 21 years old need to show proof of income to qualify for a credit card.

Not all issuers follow the same credit card age requirements for adding authorized users.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Credit Card?

The minimum age for getting a credit card is 18 years. However, according to the Credit CARD Act of 2009, if you’re between 18 and 21 years old, you need to show proof of verifiable income. This can come in the form of pay stubs, tax returns, investment statements or commission checks. Income requirements relax a bit once you turn 21.

If you’re under 21 and cannot show that you earn enough money, you may consider applying for a credit card with a cosigner. In this case, the cosigner will need to meet the chosen card issuer's eligibility criteria surrounding income and creditworthiness. After turning 21, you may add income from considerably more sources in your application for a credit card. For example, you may include the income of a spouse or partner and allowances from parents.

If you’re unable to qualify for a conventional credit card because of income requirements or the absence of credit history, you may consider looking at what secured credit cards have to offer. These cards require that you provide a security deposit, which, in most instances, functions as your credit limit. A secured card can help you build your credit history, and you may apply for one after you’re 18 years old.

Whether you're 18 or 21 years old, you’ll want to compare your options carefully before selecting your first credit card.

>>MORE: GUIDE TO CREDIT AND CREDIT CARDS FOR STUDENTS

When Should Your Child Get a Credit Card Under 18?

Getting credit cards for kids involves adding them as authorized users on your own credit cards. While adding children as authorized users can help them learn the ropes of how to manage credit effectively, it's essential that they use their cards in the right manner. As such, determining when you should get a credit card for a child under 18 requires you to pay attention to a few other factors.

  • Responsibility: Start by determining if your children can follow the limitations you set in place surrounding the use of credit cards. These can include limiting what they may use their cards for and how they make payments toward their cards. In addition, you’ll also need to monitor their credit card usage to ensure that they’re on the right track.
  • Understanding of credit: Understanding how credit cards work is important for children, even if they're added as authorized users. Children should be aware of interest rates, credit limits, the importance of making payments on time and credit utilization ratios before they get their first credit cards. Once they know how their credit usage affects their credit scores, they're typically better prepared to use their first cards in the right manner.
  • The state of your credit: If you do not have good or excellent credit, you might want to reconsider getting your child a credit card as it can place additional strain on your finances. Besides, unchecked spending by an authorized user can bring down the primary cardholder's credit score via missed payments or an increase in your credit utilization ratio.
  • In cases of emergency: Children who live away from home might benefit by having credit cards that they may use to deal with different types of emergencies. However, it’s important to establish what might constitute an emergency in advance.
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Once you get past the credit card age requirement, look for your first card based on factors such as APRs, annual fees and the possibility to earn rewards. We have analyzed over 80 student credit cards and more than 1,600 consumer cards to simplify the process for you.

Credit Card Age Requirements for Kids

Depending on the card you have and your child's age, adding them as an authorized user on your credit card might be possible. Once this happens, your child receives a separate credit card that is linked to your primary credit card account. You are then responsible for making payments toward any charges made by the authorized cardholder.

The minimum age for authorized users on credit cards is not the same across all issuers in the U.S. Some issuers have no minimum age requirements in place. As a result, it’s important to determine if you might be able to add your child as an authorized user on an existing card or whether you might need to get a new one for yourself first.

If you plan to add a child as an authorized user to help build their credit history, know that not all card issuers report authorized users’ account activity to credit bureaus such as Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

Minimum Age for an Authorized User with Credit Card Issuers

Card Issuer
Title

American Express

13 years

Bank of America

No minimum age

Barclays

13 years

Capital One

No minimum age

Chase

No minimum age

Citi

No minimum age

Discover

15 years

Navy Federal

No minimum age

USAA

No minimum age

U.S. Bank

16 years

Wells Fargo

No minimum age

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MONEYGEEK QUICK TIP

Developing a strong foundation of credit is important for young adults. Whether you are able to open your own account or are added as an authorized user to someone else's, it is crucial that you are responsible with the card and only buy what you know you can pay off when the statement closes each month. — Lee Huffman, credit card expert at BaldThoughts.com

Other Questions You May Have About Credit Cards

Understanding other commonly asked questions about how old you have to be to get a credit card and how becoming an authorized user works will help you decide which path to take.

What is your credit score if you just turned 18?
Can you get a credit card under 16?
Can you get a credit card at 15?
Can you get a credit card at 14?
Can you get a credit card at 13?

Next Steps

If you’re over 18 years of age, can show proof of income and feel you’ll manage your credit well, you may consider getting your first credit card. If you’re a student, you may look at what the top student credit cards have to offer, and these are typically easier to qualify for than regular cards.

>>MORE: STUDENT CREDIT CARDS VS. REGULAR: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?

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About Rajiv Baniwal


Rajiv Baniwal headshot

Rajiv Baniwal is a journalist who has been covering financial topics for over 15 years. Meticulous in his research, he provides accurate and up-to-date information. His expertise includes mortgages, loans, credit cards, insurance and international money transfers.


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