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Credit cards for teens under 18 years old

Teens can get a credit card in Canada. Here's how teens can sign up for secured or prepaid credit card, or as an authorized user on a parent's account.

How old do you have to be to get a credit card in Canada? Your child can legally apply for an unsecured credit card on their own at the age of 18, but there are some credit cards for minors under 18 available on the market. For example, your teen can sign up for a prepaid or secured credit card, or as an authorized user on your account when they’re as young as 13 years old.

Learn more about credit cards for teens and kids, how old you have to be to get a credit card in Canada, and compare credit cards for minors under 18 in Canada.

Top credit cards offers for teens

Can you get a credit card under 18?

Although you can’t independently get a credit card under 18 years old, there are a few credit card options for teens under the age of 18. Your teenager may be able to access the benefits of a credit card in the following ways:

  1. Sign up as an authorized user on an existing account. Some credit cards will allow your child to sign up as an authorized user on your account.
  2. Purchase a prepaid credit card. You can purchase a prepaid credit card from certain credit card providers or your local grocery store.
  3. Apply for a secured credit card. Your child may be able to sign up for a secured credit card with some providers, though you’ll need to check the eligibility criteria.
  4. Use a Visa Debit or Debit Mastercard. Your child can shop online and make tap-and-go payments with a debit card affiliated with a credit card.

Credit cards that allow authorized users under 18

Depending on how old your teen is, it’s possible to get a credit card in Canada as an authorized user.

CardMinimum ageAnnual fee
Scotiabank Scene Visa CardScotiabank SCENE+ Visa Card16+$0
BMO AIR MILES MastercardBMO AIR MILES Mastercard13+$0
BMO CashBack MastercardBMO CashBack Mastercard13+$0
SimplyCash Preferred CardSimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express13+$119.88
RBC Cash Back MastercardRBC Cash Back Mastercard14+ with the Family Card option$0
Tangerine Money Back Credit CardTangerine Money-Back Credit Card16+$0
td rewards visa credit cardTD Rewards Visa CardNo restriction$0
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Credit CardCIBC Aeroplan Visa Card13+$0

How old do you have to be to get a credit card in Canada?

You have to be at least the age of the majority (either 18 or 19 years old depending on your province or territory) to get a credit card in Canada. That said, teens as young as 13 years old can become an authorized user on certain credit cards in Canada.

You have to be 18 years old to get a credit card on your own in: Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan.

You have to be 19 years old to get a credit card on your own in: British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut and Yukon.

Can a 17 year old get a credit card in Canada?

Yes, a 17 year old can get a credit card in Canada when they sign up as an authorized user on their parent’s credit card or prepaid card account. But a 17 year old teen cannot sign up for a credit card on their own until they turn the age of the majority.

Credit cards in Canada, like the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard, allow users as young as 13 to be added as an authorized user.

What age can you get a credit card in Canada? Explore options

While you need to be the age of the majority to get a credit card in Canada on your own, there are different options for children and teens when they sign up with parents. And the type of credit card best suited for your child may depend on their age.

Use these guidelines to help ease your child into managing the responsibility of spending money on credit depending on what age your child gets a credit card in Canada.

Credit cards for different age groups

Tweens: 11 to 13 years old

This age range is a good time to introduce your tween to debit and prepaid cards. These cards are a relatively safe way to teach your child how to spend responsibly. They don’t accrue interest, and they draw from preloaded money through a bank account or other source. The downside to debit and prepaid cards is twofold:

  • Using prepaid cards, in particular, often incurs fees. Even a simple visit to the ATM can result in a charge. These fees can add up and are counterintuitive to your goal of teaching your child about responsible spending.
  • Neither prepaid cards nor debit cards will help your child build credit.

During this time, teach your tween about the concept of a credit limit. Load the card with more money than your tween actually needs and make that amount the “credit limit.” Then instruct them to keep spending well below that limit.

The point is to teach your tween how to keep their credit utilization ratio low (how much credit they use compared to how much credit they have access to). For prepaid credit cards for teens, consider an option like Mogo, which allows you to monitor spending.

Teens: 14 to 17 years old

If your teen proves they’re able to responsibly use a debit or prepaid card, consider letting them graduate to a credit card. After you add them as an authorized user, you can monitor their spending. At the same time, you can teach them how to manage credit before they get their own card. At this point, you’ll want to start stressing a few additional credit card spending habits:

Teach your teen how to make card payments on time. Set up automatic payments from your account so you never miss a payment on your teen’s card. Meanwhile, ask your teen to repay you monthly by a certain date. This helps them learn how to make card payments on time. If they miss a due date, neither their nor your credit score will drop — your automatic payments have you covered.

Encourage your teen to pay off their full balance each month. This is a great habit that will keep them out of debt later. While you’re at it, praise your teen for keeping their credit utilization ratio low.

Compare more credit cards for teen authorized users

1 - 5 of 5
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
Scotiabank SCENE+ Visa Card
7,500 points
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
20.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Earn up to 7,500 Scene+ points in the first 3 months. Apply by July 1, 2024.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
20.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to max. spend of $2,500). Plus, get a rate of 0.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 2% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
800 Miles
Up to 3x Air Miles for every $25 spent
20.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Get a rate of 0.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 2% fee applies to transferred balances.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
10% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn 10% cash back (up to $100) when you spend $1,000 in the first 2 months. Valid until October 31, 2024. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months.
SimplyCash Card from American Express
$100 in statement credits
Up to 2% cash back
21.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
In your first 10 months, earn a $10 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $300 in purchases. This could add up to $100 in statement credits in the first 10 months.
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Should my teenager get a credit card?

You might think your child is far too young to use a credit card. But you’ll find three big reasons why it could be a good idea.

1. It can teach your teen how to use a credit card responsibly for the future.

After adding your teen as an authorized user, you have control over their account and can see how they use their card. With insight into their spending, you can more effectively teach them solid financial habits. It’s better for them to learn from you now than figure everything out on their own later.

2. It can help your teen build credit early.

Most people start with a brand-new credit history when they’re ready to get a credit card. This usually means they’re limited to student cards and secured cards, both of which typically come with limited features.

You can help your teen build an impressive credit history before they reach adulthood. Just add them as an authorized user on your account and consistently make payments on time. When they turn 18, their credit may be strong enough to expand their card options considerably.

3. It’s a convenience for parents and kids.

Sometimes you could forget to give your kid cash for meals at school, transportation or supplies. Getting your kid a credit card can help you avoid unpleasant situations and avoid cash theft.

Be careful about giving your child a credit card

Before adding your teen to your card as an authorized user, consider how responsible you are as a cardholder. Why? Because your teen’s fortunes will rise and fall with yours. If you pay on time, your teen’s credit will improve. If you consistently miss payments, you’ll damage your teen’s credit.

Bring your son or daughter along for the ride if you’re on top of your credit card payments. But if you have trouble keeping up, it’s probably better not to add authorized users at all.

Compare secured credit cards for teens

1 - 1 of 1
Name Product Min. Required Deposit Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee
Neo Secured Credit Card
$50
19.99%-29.99%
22.99%-31.99%
$0
Earn up to 5% cashback at partner restaurants & bars, up to 4% on partner apps & streaming services, up to 3% on partner gas & grocery purchases and 0.5% back on everything else. No credit check required.
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At what age can I apply for a credit card without being an authorized user on a parent’s card?

To apply for a credit card, you must be at least the minimum age of majority in the province or territory in which you live (either 18 or 19). However, you can be added as an authorized user to another credit card account prior to that.

Applying for a credit card if you’re under the age of majority

Becoming an authorized user is your sole option for getting a credit card. This means you’re allowed to make purchases with someone else’s credit card account, typically with your own card in your own name.

In this case, the primary cardholder is held liable for your balance. And if they pay the balance on time, it can positively affect your credit score.

But don’t get wild with your spending. If the primary cardholder fails to pay their balance, it can stain your credit score for years to come.

Applying for a credit card if you’re 18 to 21

You can apply for a credit card if you’re 18 to 21 years old, but you must prove you can independently pay your card bill. Depending on the provider, you may be able to report income such as scholarships and grants on your credit card application. You can also report wages, if you have a job.

  • Don’t have sufficient income?
    You may be able to add a cosigner, who agrees to repay your card provider if you can’t pay your bill. Preferably, this cosigner has a strong credit history, as your provider will use that information to evaluate your application.
  • Don’t have a cosigner?
    If you’re in college, consider a student credit card. Providers are typically willing to offer this card type to applicants new to credit. A secured card is also an excellent option. Because you’re required to put down a security deposit before opening the card, a provider may feel more comfortable accepting you as a customer.

Applying for a credit card if you’re over 21

Typically, credit card providers ask for information showing you can consistently handle repayments. Two of the most important factors that help lenders determine if you’re approved are your credit score and annual income. You have better approval odds if you have a score of at least 650 and a debt-to-income ratio below 36%.

How to get your teenager a credit card

You can help your child follow these steps to apply for a credit card:

  1. Compare credit cards. Find out how old you have to be to get the credit card you want or see if you can sign your child up as an authorized user on your account.
  2. Apply for the card of your choice. Apply for the credit card of your choice by visiting the provider’s main site you’re interested in.
  3. Fill out the application details. Fill out your personal details, such as your full name, address, email and phone number, to start your application.
  4. Authorize a credit check. Authorize the lender to perform a personal credit check to see if you can get approved for the credit card of your choice.
  5. Click submit. Once you’re ready to apply, click submit on your application or call your credit card provider to apply over the phone.

Teach your teenager the risks of having a credit card

While you still have them under your wing, teach your teen how to avoid trouble with a credit card. Here are a few common pitfalls they should know about.

Just paying the minimum payment

A cardholder can make only the minimum monthly payment on their credit card. However, financial experts argue that this is one of the worst features of using a credit card. (The worst is to make your payments late.) Paying the minimum allows interest to snowball and debt to accumulate.

  • Here’s what to do: Show your teen why paying off their balance in full each month is smart. Teach them how credit card interest accumulates, and how it can be avoided.

Overspending

Teach your teen they should avoid spending close to their credit limit. Carrying a high balance puts one in danger of incurring over-limit fees and accumulating high debt. Many experts recommend keeping spending under 30% of one’s credit limit.

  • Here’s what to do: Encourage your teen to spend less than they receive from their allowance or job. Teach them how their credit utilization ratio affects their credit score. And explain why it’s smart to keep their ratio under 30%.

Paying late

This is a sure path to decreasing a credit score. Because your teen is an authorized user on your account, you can protect them by paying your card bill as usual. But if you see signs your teen may pay late, it’s best to nip the problem in the bud.

  • Here’s what to do: Set up automatic payments from your account to the card so that you never miss a payment on your teen’s card. Meanwhile, ask your teen to repay you by a certain date each month. Encourage them to set up phone or calendar reminders, so they don’t forget.

Credit card fraud

Teach your kids how to keep their credit card information safe. Although credit card fraud can happen even if you take all necessary precautions, it’s a good starting point for your kid to learn how to protect their credit cards.

  • Here’s what to do: Explain to your kids that credit card information can be copied and used illegally. Also, teach them to recognize which sites are safe and which aren’t for online use.

Bottom line on credit cards for minors under 18 in Canada

There are a number of ways for a teenager to qualify for a credit card. Your best bet is to help your teen apply for a secured or prepaid credit card. You may also be able to sign them up as an authorized user on your account, but you should only do so if you have good credit card habits yourself. Always compare cards to find the best fit for you and your teen’s needs.

Credit card for teens FAQs

Written by

Claire Horwood

Claire Horwood was a writer at Finder, specializing in credit cards, loans and other financial products. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies from the University of Victoria, and an Associate’s Degree in Science from Camosun College. Much of Claire’s coursework has focused on writing and statistics, with a healthy dose of social and cultural analysis mixed in for good measure. In her spare time, Claire enjoys rock climbing, travelling and drinking inordinate amounts of coffee. See full profile

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