Credit cards for teens under 18: Find your kid's first card | finder.com
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Credit card options for teens under 18 years old

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If you want to get your teen a credit card, you’ll have to add them as an authorized user.

It’s a common question on parents’ minds: How young is too young to get a credit card? Legally, no one can get a credit card on their own unless they’re at least 18 years old. Anyone under 18 can only be an authorized user on someone else’s — for example, their parents’ — account. Here’s how to teach your teen solid financial habits and your best options to start them on solid footing.

Our pick for adding authorized users: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.99% to 25.99%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
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Credit card or no credit card?

You might think your teen is far too young to use a credit card. But you’ll find two big reasons it could be a good idea for them to have one.

1. Teach your teen how to use a credit card responsibly.

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. 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.

Be careful about bringing your teen aboard

Before adding your teen 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 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.
The “under 21” user’s guide to credit cards

Debit and prepaid cards first — then credit cards

Though your teen could benefit from a credit card, you don’t have to give them one right away. In fact, it might be a good idea not to: A credit card can be a powerful financial tool, but only if it’s used responsibly. Teach your teen solid financial habits as early as possible. When you’re confident your child has the skills to manage their money, consider letting them graduate to a credit card.

Credit cards for different age groups

Tweens: 11–13 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.

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. For prepaid cards, consider options like FamZoo and TD Go, which allow you to monitor your child’s spending.

Teens: 14–17 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.

Teach your teen how to make card payments on time. Set up automatic payments so that you never miss a payment on your teen’s card account. 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.

Is there a minimum age to become an authorized user?

Many card issuers — Bank of America, Capital One and Chase — have no minimum age for authorized users. Others have minimum ages of 13 to 16.

Know 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.

  • Making only the minimum payment. A cardholder is allowed to make only the minimum monthly payment on their credit card. However, that’s arguably the worst thing to do behind paying late. Paying the minimum allows interest to snowball and debt to accumulate.
    Here’s what to do: Show your teen why it’s smart to pay off their balance in full each month. Teach them how credit card interest accumulates, and how it can be avoided.
  • Overspending. Teach your teen that they should avoid spending close to their credit limit. Carrying a high balance puts one in danger of incurring overlimit fees, on top of 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 in the future, it’s best to nip the problem in the bud.
    Here’s what to do: Set up automatic payments on your card account so that you never miss a payment on your teen’s card account. 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.

How does my credit utilization ratio affect my credit score?

Provider rules and recommended credit cards

Banks Which banks offer authorized users under 21
American Express cross-icons
Bank of America transparent-green-tick
Capital One transparent-green-tick
Chase transparent-green-tick
Citi transparent-green-tick
Discover cross-icons
Wells Fargo transparent-green-tick

Frequently asked questions

Compare credit cards

Name Product Filter values Annual Fee APR for Purchases (Purchase Rate) Intro APR for Balance Transfer
$95
14.99% to 25.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$0
14.99% to 25.99% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$0
14.99% to 25.99% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
Earn up to $250 back. Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Plus, earn an additional $100 back after you spend an additional $6,500 in purchases within your first 12 months. Rates & Fees
$0
16.99% to 25.74% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 16.99% to 25.74% variable)
0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
$0
16.99% to 25.74% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 16.99% to 25.74% variable)
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.99% to 24.99% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
$550
None (Charge Card)
Get 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5x points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & Fees
$450
17.99% to 24.99% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
$0
13.99% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 13.99% variable)
A low, variable APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable)
Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
$0
14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable)
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees.
$0
12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% variable
0% for the first 18 months (then 12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% variable)
An 18 months 0%% Intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
$0
16.24% to 22.24% variable
1.99% for the first 6 monthly billing cycles (then 16.24% to 22.24% variable)
1% cash back to the nonprofits, K-12 schools, colleges and religious organizations of your choice.
$0
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Earn 10,000 Bonus Miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Rates & Fees
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.74% to 26.74% variable
30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Enjoy a $0 annual fee on the first year and earn up to 2 Starpoints® for every dollar of eligible purchases. Rates & Fees
$95
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
$0
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Rates & Fees
$495
16.99% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 16.99% variable)
Mastercard Black Card members receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
$195
16.99% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 16.99% variable)
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
$995
16.99% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 16.99% variable)
Earn points every time you spend. Luxury Card enhances your purchasing power by providing you with one (1) point for every one dollar ($1) you spend. Every purchase gets you closer to the rewards you want.
$39
24.99% variable
Designed to help build credit history with no deposit required and access to benefits.
$75 annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
23.9% variable
The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card is specifically designed for those with less than perfect credit.
$75 annual fee for the first year ($48 thereafter)
29.99% fixed
The First Access Card is a true VISA® credit card that does not require perfect credit for approval.
Up to
19.99% to 25.99% variable
Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV, terms apply.
$0
20.74% variable
Designed for college students to build credit history and earn rewards.
$35
19.39% variable
A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Filter values APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee Interest Free Period
19.39% variable
$35
Up to 25 days
A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
9.99% fixed
$49
Up to 25 days
Low fixed interest rates with no penalty rate.
10.49% variable
$49
Up to 25 days
9.99% fixed
$48
This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.
20.49% variable
$29
Up to 25 days
17.99% fixed
$39
Up to 25 days
Borrow up to $10,000 and get your credit score back on track.
14.49% variable
$39
Up to 25 days
26.49% variable
$0
Up to 25 days
13.99% fixed
$39
Up to 25 days
Have little or poor credit? The primor® Secured Mastercard® Classic has no minimum credit score requirements and no processing or application fees to worry about.
9.99% fixed
$49
Up to 25 days
Fast, easy application process. No processing or application fees!
13.99% fixed
$39
Up to 25 days
Credit lines available from $200 to $5,000! You decide where you want to start and open your Personal Savings Deposit Account to secure your line.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Filter values APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee
24.9% variable
$0
A no-annual-fee credit card and discounts when you shop at Target.
See issuer's website
$0
The Fingerhut Credit Account is store-specific, and used to finance purchases made from Fingerhut.com or Fingerhut FreshStart's catalogue.
See issuer's website
Apply Today, Buy Today

Build your credit history with us

Low monthly payments

Trusted brand names

See issuer's website
Get instant access to purchase items in the Fingerhut store with no overlimit fees.
$299
Get a $500 credit limit to make purchases on the Horizon Outlet website.
$299
Build your credit history with Horizon Card Services. Get an unsecured line of credit and the best customer service.
Shop the items you need at myuniqueoutlet.com with up to a $1,000 credit.
24.65% variable
$0
28.74% variable
6, 12, 18, and 24-month financing options available and special promotions just for cardmembers.

Compare up to 4 providers

Kevin Joey Chen

Kevin Chen is a world-travelin', copy-writin', Game of Thrones-watchin' credit cards writer for finder.com. When he's not crunching the numbers on bonus points and comparing APRs, you can find him flying around the world in search of the perfect beer.

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Important Information*
Deserve® Classic Card
Deserve® Classic Card

APR

24.49
variable

Annual fee

0 For the first year
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Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™
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APR

16.74
variable

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995 For the first year
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First Access Visa Card®
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Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card
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US Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Deserve® Classic Card
Deserve® Classic Card

APR

24.49
variable

Annual fee

0 For the first year
More info
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™

APR

16.74
variable

Annual fee

995 For the first year
More info
First Access Visa Card®
First Access Visa Card®

APR

29.99
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card

APR

23.9
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
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