How Old Do You Have To Be To Get a Credit Card? If you’re ready to get your first card or if you’re a parent looking to get one for your child, you may be wondering how old someone needs to be to qualify. Naturally, not just anyone can get a card, and there are age requirements for taking on the responsibility. Here is everything you need to know
How old do you have to be to get a credit card
The minimum age to open an account as the primary card holder is 18. But due to regulations from the Credit CARD Act of 2009, applicants 18 to 20 might encounter stricter verification requirements, including showing proof that they can independently repay what they borrow.
Having income — such as a salary, regular paychecks, commission checks, or income from investments — protects young consumers from taking on more debt than they can handle. Once you turn 21, you won’t be bound by these rules, though card issuers still review your income and it remains important to answer all application questions honestly.
Getting a Credit Card Under Age 18
You can get a credit card under age 18 if an adult adds you as an authorized user to their card. As an authorized user, you’ll have a card with your name on it that you can use to make purchases. The primary account holder is responsible for making the payments, however, that person may, in turn, expect you to cover the payments for the purchases you make on the account.
What is an authorized user?
An authorized user is someone who is added (by a primary cardholder) to a card account with authorization to use that card. Typically, the authorized user will get their own credit card with their name on it. Their payment and card activity then posts to the primary cardholder’s account.
The authorized user can make payments as they would with any other card, but only the primary cardholder is held responsible for payments.
As an authorized user, you may be able to benefit from the primary cardholder’s good credit. Typically, the primary cardholder’s account history and activity are reported on your credit reports, which can help you to build up your own credit profile. Not all issuers do this, though, so consider asking if your card issuer reports activity on authorized user accounts.
Finding the best credit card for 21 and up
If you’re 21 years old or older, you may have a better chance of getting approved for a card on your own, even if you’re still a college student. For example, you may have had more opportunities to build your credit history, especially if you took out student loans and have already started making payments.
The primary reason, however, is that the Credit CARD Act of 2009 allows borrowers who are 21 and older to claim any income to which they have a reasonable expectation of access on a credit card application. That includes:
Income from a spouse or partner
Allowances and gifts
Trust fund distributions
Retirement fund distributions
Social Security payments
While you now have a longer list of sources you can use, it’s essential to claim only that income that you can prove exists.
In addition to your gross annual income, you’ll typically need to provide the following information on a credit card application:
Date of birth
Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number
Source of income
Housing situation and monthly payment
To find the right card for you, start by checking your credit score. Search for cards that align with your credit score range, then consider each card’s features and how they match up with your preferences and spending habits.
What credit card options are available for people under 18?
Although you can’t apply for a card in your name while you’re under 18, you can consider the following options:
Request to be an additional cardholder on your parents’ credit card.
If you’re at least 16 years of age, your parents may add you as a supplementary cardholder to their account. This means that you will receive a card linked to their account, and they will remain legally responsible for all expenses incurred on your card.
Get a prepaid credit card.
A prepaid credit card lets you preload the card with money. This means it’s technically not a “credit” card because you are responsible for providing the money you spend, but it can be useful for convenience, flexibility and learning about budgeting. With this card, you won’t fall into debt.
Use a debit card.
A debit card is similar to a prepaid card, except it is linked to a bank account. When you use this type of card, you are spending money that you have in the account.
Get a co-signer.
If you want to apply for a card with a co-signer, you first have to find an issuer who allows it. When applying for a card with a co-signer, both applicants need to meet the credit score requirements for the issuer. For this reason, the minimum age to get one with a co-signer is 18.
Focus on savings.
Learning to save should be a critical focus, especially before you get a card. This will ensure you have funds that you can use when necessary and also prevent unmanageable credit card debt in the future.
The right age to get a credit card is a question of an individual’s level of responsibility. By helping children and young adults take gradual steps toward card use, parents can help them to become responsible credit card users for life.