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Best credit cards for young adults in Canada

Compare the 4 best credit cards for 18-year-olds in Canada, and find out how to get your first credit card.

When you turn the age of majority in your province or territory, you can finally apply for a credit card. The best credit cards for 18-year-olds in Canada have relatively easy qualification requirements, low fees, and competitive interest rates. If you’re lucky, your first credit card will also come with rewards points, cash back, or other perks.

Here are the 4 best credit cards for young adults in Canada.

Best credit cards for 18-year-olds in Canada

Best no-annual-fee credit card for young adults in Canada:
Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card

Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card logo
Credit recommended (650-)
Apply now
on Scotiabank's secure site
650
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 1%
Cash back
5%
Welcome offer
Get a 0% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months with no balance transfer fee. Apply by October 31, 2024. Get 1% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store and drug store purchases and recurring bill payments, and get 0.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
  • Earn cashback. Get 1% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store and drug store purchases and recurring bill payments, and get 0.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
  • Annual fee. This card comes with a $0 annual fee.
  • Signup bonus. Earn a Earn 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 spend). Plus, get a 0% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months with no balance transfer fee. Apply by October 31, 2024. when you sign up..
  • Low return on other purchases. Receive only 0.5% on all other categories of spending.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR intro for the first 6 months (then from 19.99% )
Cash Advance Rate 22.99%
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 6 months (then 22.99% )
Welcome offer Earn 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 spend). Plus, get a 0% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months with no balance transfer fee. Apply by October 31, 2024.
Rewards Get 1% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store and drug store purchases and recurring bill payments, and get 0.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.

Best loyalty program credit card for young adults in Canada:
RBC ION+ Visa

RBC ION+ Visa logo
Credit recommended (660-)
Apply now
on RBC's secure site
660
Min. credit score
$48
Annual fee
Up to 3x
N/A
7,000
Welcome offer
Earn 3 Avion points for every $1 spent on groceries, food delivery, rides, gas, streaming, subscriptions, digital gaming and more. Earn 1 Avion point for every $1 spent on all other qualifying purchases. Link your RBC ION+ Visa to your Petro-Points membership to save 3¢/L on fuel at Petro-Canada and earn 20% more Petro and Avion points when you pay with your linked RBC credit card. Collect 50 Be Well points for every $1 you spend on eligible items at Rexall when you scan your Be Well card and pay with your credit card.
  • Earn accelerated rewards with many loyalty programs. Get rewarded faster with Petro-Points, Rexall Be Well points and RBC Avion Rewards.
  • Easy to qualify. There are no annual income requirements.
  • Mobile device insurance. Pay for a new mobile device with your credit card and enjoy 2 years of coverage up to $1,000 if it gets lost, stolen, accidentally damaged or experiences mechanical failure.
  • DoorDash savings. Get a 3-month complimentary DashPass subscription and unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees on qualifying orders of $15 or more when you pay with your card.
  • Annual fee. Pay $4 a month for a total of $48 annually.
  • Good credit required. You need a minimum score of 660 to apply.
Annual Fee $48
Purchase APR 20.99%
Cash Advance Rate 22.99%
Balance transfer APR 22.99%
Welcome offer Get up to 7,000 welcome points. Get 3,500 points on approval and earn 3,500 bonus points when you spend $500 in your first 3 months.
Rewards Earn 3 Avion points for every $1 spent on groceries, food delivery, rides, gas, streaming, subscriptions, digital gaming and more. Earn 1 Avion point for every $1 spent on all other qualifying purchases.

Best entertainment rewards credit card for young adults in Canada:
Scotiabank SCENE+ Visa Card

Scotiabank SCENE+ Visa Card logo
Credit recommended (650-)
Apply now
on Scotiabank's secure site
650
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 2x
Points
7,500
Points welcome offer
If you've have no credit history and are looking for a rewards card with a $0 annual fee, the Scotiabank SCENE+ Visa Card is worth taking a look at – especially if you're a big movie buff. Earn 2 Scene+ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, Foodland & Participating Co-ops, FreshCo and more. Plus, earn 2 Scene+ points per $1 spent at participating Cineplex theatres or cineplex.com, and earn 1 Scene+ point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere. Redeem your SCENE points for movie tickets or take advantage of discounts at participating restaurants.
  • Annual fee. This card has a $0 annual fee.
  • Rewards points. Earn 2 Scene+ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, Foodland & Participating Co-ops, FreshCo and more. Plus, earn 2 Scene+ points per $1 spent at participating Cineplex theatres or cineplex.com, and earn 1 Scene+ point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere. Redeem points for free movies and discounts at participating restaurants.
  • Additional cardholders. Pay $0 to add another authorized user to your account, so you can rack up points faster.
  • Earn more. Earn up to 7,500 Scene+ points in the first 3 months. Apply by July 1, 2024.
  • Rental cars. Get a discount of up to 25% off at participating Budget and AVIS car rental locations in both Canada and the US..
  • Extra insurance available. Optional insurance is available (for a fee) to help pay down your balance if you become critically ill, disabled or can't work due to job loss, strikes or lockouts. If you pass away or get diagnosed with a Covered Critical Illness, your card balance can be paid off up to $10,000.00 or $50,000.00 depending on the coverage type. Terms apply.
  • Missed payment fee. You'll be charged a 24.99% rate on any missed payments.
  • Foreign conversion fee. Every time you charge a purchase to your card in a foreign currency, you'll incur a 2.5% fee.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 19.99%
Cash Advance Rate 22.99%
Balance transfer APR 22.99%
Welcome offer Earn up to 7,500 Scene+ points in the first 3 months. Apply by July 1, 2024.
Rewards Earn 2 Scene+ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, Foodland & Participating Co-ops, FreshCo and more. Plus, earn 2 Scene+ points per $1 spent at participating Cineplex theatres or cineplex.com, and earn 1 Scene+ point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.

Best cash back credit card for young adults in Canada:
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card logo
Credit recommended (600-)
Apply now
on Tangerine's secure site
600
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 2%
Cash back
10% cash back
Welcome offer
The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card lets you earn cash rewards on your everyday purchases, with accelerated rewards where you spend the most. Earn 2% cash back in two Tangerine credit card categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else. Categories include groceries, gas, restaurants, hotels, recurring bill payments, drug store, home improvement and entertainment. Plus, get access to a 1.95% interest rate on a balance transfer for the first 6 months.
  • Earn rewards fast. Earn 2% cash back in two Tangerine credit card categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
  • Annual fee. This card comes with a $0 annual fee.
  • Balance transfer rate. Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months. To take advantage of this offer, you must complete the Balance Transfer request within 30 days of account approval and activate your card within 45 days of approval. A balance transfer fee equaling the greater of 3% or $5 will be charged on each transferred amount (fee is waived by Tangerine if you're a resident of Quebec).
  • Low return on other purchases. Receive only 0.5 cash back on all other categories of spending.
  • Currency conversion. You'll pay a foreign transaction fee of 2.5% on all overseas purchases.
  • Missed payment fee. You'll pay a 24.95% rate on missed payments.
  • Balance transfer fee. Pay a balance transfer fee of 1% of the total transferred amount or $5, whichever is greater.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 19.95%
Cash Advance Rate 19.95%
Balance transfer APR 1.95% intro for the first 6 months (then 19.95% )
Welcome offer Earn 10% cash back (up to $100) when you spend $1,000 in the first 2 months. Valid until April 30, 2024.
Rewards Earn 2% cash back in two Tangerine credit card categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.

Do I qualify for a credit card in Canada if I’m 18 years old?

Credit cards for young adults in Canada are available if you’re at least the age of majority in your province or territory. This is usually either 18 or 19 years old, depending on where you live.

Must be 18 years old to apply for a credit cardMust be 19 years old to apply for a credit card
  • Alberta
  • Manitoba
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • British Columbia
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Yukon

Additionally, you’ll likely need to meet the following requirements:

  • Canadian citizen or resident. To get a credit card, you need a residential address in Canada.
  • Minimum income. Most credit cards for young adults in Canada require a minimum income of at least $12,000 per year to qualify. Be prepared to show proof of income like recent employment pay stubs, bank statements or tax Notices of Assessment.
  • Credit history. Your credit score will need to be at or above a certain number to apply for a regular credit card. If you don’t have any credit history, consider getting a secured credit card or getting a credit builder loan. Make payments on time and in full to build your score.

Can I get a credit card if I’m under 18?

You may be able to get a credit card if you’re under 18, though this usually involves signing on to your parent’s account as an authorized user. Learn more in our guide on credit card options for teens.

How to get a credit card for 18-year-olds (or 19 year-olds) in Canada

Looking to sign up for your first credit card? Here’s what to do in 6 simple steps:

  1. Choose a card. Compare fees, interest rates, features and requirements for cards offered by different providers to find the best one for your needs and budget.
  2. Make sure you’re eligible. Make sure you meet the minimum income and credit score requirements for your card before you apply.
  3. Apply online or over the phone. Select Apply now to get started. Provide basic personal and financial information online or over the phone, and submit your application. Be prepared to provide proof of income such as recent pay stubs, bank statements or your tax Notices of Assessment.
  4. Authorize a credit check. Give the card provider permission to do a hard pull on your credit. This is usually required to process your application and will temporarily cause your score to drop. Getting a credit check does not guarantee approval.
  5. If approved, activate your credit card. If you meet all the application criteria and are approved, you’ll receive your card in the mail within 1-2 weeks. Activate it online or by phoning your card provider. That’s it! You can now use first credit card.

Types of credit cards for young adults in Canada

When looking for the best credit card for 18-year-olds in Canada, you can choose between secured or unsecured cards. Let’s walk through what each option means.

Unsecured credit cards for young adults

Unsecured credit cards are “regular” credit cards that don’t require an upfront deposit. These cards are reported to credit bureaus, so repaying what you own on time will boost your credit score and help you qualify for other credit products like car loans, personal loans and mortgages.

Even if you have little or no credit history, you might still get approved if you have some form of income. This is because card providers expect that you’ll continue earning money and want to create a long-term financial relationship with you to secure future gains.

What if I can’t get approved for an unsecured credit card?

If you’re having trouble getting approved for an unsecured credit card, there are 2 things you can do:

  • Apply with a cosigner. Some financial institutions may let you apply for a credit card with another person who has a stronger financial profile. This person, called a cosigner, will be responsible for making payments if you default.
  • Become an authorized user on someone else’s card. Another person can authorize you as a secondary card holder on their account, and you can receive a card. The primary cardholder must provide your name, birth date and (if required) Social Insurance Number. While this can build your credit, your score could take a hit if the primary cardholder misses payments.

Secured credit cards for young adults

Secured credit cards require an upfront deposit, which becomes your spending limit. The deposit also acts as collateral in case you miss payments. Like unsecured cards, secured cards are reported to credit bureaus, so making payments on time and in full can help build your score.

Secured credit cards are best if you have trouble getting an unsecured card, because you have no credit history (or a bad one). These cards are easy to get approved for, but you’ll need to have some funds to use your card.

Using your secured card and making repayments for a while will help you develop a good credit history. Eventually, you may want to close your secured credit card account, get back your deposit and apply for an unsecured card that offers more rewards and benefits.

Compare some of the best credit cards for 18 year-olds in Canada

1 - 4 of 4
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
BMO CashBack Mastercard For Students
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
20.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get up to 5% cash back in the first three months (up to max. spend of $2,500).
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students
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).
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 April 30, 2024. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months.
Scotiabank SCENE+ Visa Card
7,500 points
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Earn up to 7,500 Scene+ points in the first 3 months. Apply by July 1, 2024.
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1 - 1 of 1
Name Product Min. Required Deposit Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee
Neo Secured Mastercard
$50
19.99% - 29.99%
N/A
$0
Earn bonuses like 15% cashback on your first purchase at most partners, and earn an average of 4% cashback at thousands of partners and at least 0.5% cashback guaranteed.
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Should I get a credit card for 18-year-olds?

Most experts agree that it’s a good idea to get a credit card at 18 years old if you make your payments on time and can handle your money responsibly. You may want to start out with a secured credit card to help build your credit and become familiar with how a credit card works before you sign onto an unsecured or student credit card.

Check out some of the most common benefits and drawbacks of using a credit card when you’re between the ages of 18 and 21 below:

Benefits of getting credit cards for 18-year-olds

  • Helps to build credit. You can use a credit card to build your credit so that you can apply for other forms of financing with lower interest rates in the future.
  • Learn how to manage a budget. You’ll learn how to figure out a monthly budget so that you can plan for your payments.
  • Earn rewards for spending. You may be able to earn points or cashback for making purchases, which you can exchange for merchandise, gift cards and travel.
  • Take advantage of credit card benefits. Many credit cards come with complimentary benefits such as mobile device protection and travel insurance.

What to watch out for

  • Annual fees. You could end up paying an annual fee for your card to get better rewards or benefits (though there are plenty of no-annual-fee cards to choose from).
  • Interest rates. Most cards come with 19.99% interest rates for purchases, which can cost you a lot of money if you’re only making the minimum payment each month.
  • Easy to overspend. You may be inclined to spend more than you make since the money is readily available to you at all times.
  • Damage to your credit score. You could end up damaging your credit if you spend too much and can no longer afford the minimum payments for your credit card.
  • Difficult to qualify for. You could have difficulty qualifying for a credit card if you don’t have a credit history to prove your credit worthiness.

How to build your credit score with a credit card

There are a number of ways you can use a credit card to build your credit. Here’s how to manage your credit card wisely to get the best benefit:

  • Make your payments on time. Make payments like clockwork to build your credit score and avoid late fees.
  • Pay your card in full each month. Pay your balance off in full whenever possible to save money on interest and keep your payments manageable.
  • Pay more than the minimum requirement. When you can’t pay your balance off in full, pay more than the minimum payment to drive down your principal balance.
  • Avoid using your card for cash advances. Avoid taking out cash advances using your credit card since these often come with higher interest rates.
  • Keep your card balance below 30% of your credit limit. Spend 30% or less of your credit limit each month to maintain a good credit utilization ratio and build your score.
  • Tap into welcome bonuses. Sign up for a credit card that offers a generous welcome bonus to get the most out of your rewards or cashback.

Major credit card provider policies on authorized users, secured cards and student cards

Credit card providers have different rules on how old you have to be to become an authorized user to someone’s account, and not all providers offer secured cards or student cards. Check out the table below to learn what many of Canada’s most popular credit card companies offer for young card holders.

Min. age for authorized usersSecured credit card?Student credit card?
American Express13X in red-filled circleX in red-filled circle
BMO13Check mark in green-filled circleCheck mark in green-filled circle
Capital OneNot listedCheck mark in green-filled circleX in red-filled circle
CIBCNot listedCheck mark in green-filled circleCheck mark in green-filled circle
RBC14-18, depending on the type of secondary userCheck mark in green-filled circleCheck mark in green-filled circle
ScotiabankAge of majority in your province/territoryCheck mark in green-filled circleCheck mark in green-filled circle
TDSpouses, children, family and caregivers are eligible (age unspecified)Check mark in green-filled circleCheck mark in green-filled circle

Alternatives to credit cards for 18-year-olds in Canada

Not sure if getting a credit card is right for you? You still have options, whether your goal is to fund a large purchase or simply build your credit. Take a look at the options below:

Get a prepaid debit card

A prepaid debit card is like a secured credit card in that you have to provide your own funds to use the card. But a prepaid debit card is reloadable, whereas a secured credit card merely requires an initial deposit. Once you load a prepaid debit card, you can use it like you would an ordinary credit card, which can be handy for certain types of transactions like making online purchases. The downside is that using a prepaid debit card won’t build your credit.

Get a personal loan

If your goal is fund a large, one-time expense like a new laptop, college textbooks or a spring break trip, you may want to get a personal loan instead. Unlike a credit card, a loan is a one-time disbursement of funds that must be completely paid off within a certain time frame (usually anywhere from 6 months to 7 years).

You don’t have recurring access to funds, and you can’t just stick to making minimum interest payments. Unlike prepaid debit cards, you can build credit by making personal loan repayments on time and in full. And you may need a cosigner to apply if you don’t have a job.

Get a line of credit

A line of credit works a lot like a credit card. You get access to a pool of funds from which you can draw at any time, and you only pay interest on the funds you use. If you don’t use the money, no payments are required. But a line of credit doesn’t come with a card that you can use at retailers. However, a line of credit typically comes with lower interest rates than you would get with a credit card. And, similar to a personal loan, you may need a cosigner to apply if you don’t have a job.

Get financing for large purchases (like an auto loan)

If you want to build your credit score but don’t need spare cash per se, consider financing major purchases, which lets you build credit while paying for something you need like a laptop for school or a car. Many retailers offer in-house financing programs for large purchases as do most car dealerships.

If you don’t have any prior credit history, you may need a cosigner or at least a consistent income to get approved. If you already have a car, an auto title loan can give you access to funds by borrowing against the value of your car.

Start an automatic savings programs

If building credit isn’t your priority and you just want to make sure you have access to funds when you need it, set up an automatic savings program at your bank. These programs let you schedule regular withdrawals from your account, say, every time you get paid or whenever you use your debit card, and the funds are deposited into an investment account or savings account.

There are several apps that let you “micro-invest” using this type of strategy. While an automatic savings program doesn’t give you access to cash now and won’t build your credit score, it’ll keep you out of debt and help you save for the future.

Bottom line

The best credit cards for 18-year-olds in Canada come with low (or no) fees, a competitive interest rate and benefits like rewards points or cash back. If you’re a young adult, you can get a secured or unsecured (regular) credit card. Your odds of approval are higher if you can show proof of income.

Using your credit card and making payments on time will help you develop a good credit history and qualify for other credit products and loans down the road.

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