Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our content.

Credit card options for teens under 18 years old

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

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

Up to 3%

Cash back

  • Everyday cashback: 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%
  • 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores
  • No annual fee
Apply now
Terms apply, see rates & fees
Legally, no one can get a credit card on their own unless they’re at least 18 years old. However, a minor can be an authorized user on someone else’s account. Here are some credit card options that allow teens under 18 as authorized users, along with a few tips for teaching them financial habits.

Credit cards that allow authorized users under 18

CardAge limitAnnual fee
Chase Freedom Flex℠13+$0
See offer
Chase Freedom Unlimited®15+$0
See offer
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express15+$0 (Terms apply, see rates & fees)
Apply now
Citi® Diamond Preferred® CardNone listed$0
Apply now
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express15+$0 intro annual fee (then $95, see Terms apply, see rates & fees)
Apply now

Best credit cards for teens

Best for rotating category rewards
Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠ logo
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 5%
Cash back
$200
Welcome offer
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is our current favorite pick for earning big rewards in rotating categories throughout the year and the fact that you can add your teen as an authorized user is icing on the cake. The card is a point earning powerhouse for travel, dining, and rotating categories, and it doesn't even require an annual fee. Let your teen in on the purchasing action and you can max out your quarterly earning categories in no time.
  • Earn points. This card earns 5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter, reverting to 1%, 5% on travel purchased through the Chase travel portal, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases. Few other cards can match this reward potential. Note that cash back is earned as Ultimate Rewards points, which you can choose to redeem on cash back or other options.
  • No annual fee. This card requires no annual fee to use. This is surprising given the high earning rates on the card.
  • Welcome offer. Spend $500 in your first 3 months of account opening and you'll earn $200 back to your account. You can also earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • You need to enroll in the quarterly categories. If you don't enroll into the bonus categories each quarter, you'll earn just 1% on those purchases. Thankfully, only one person on the account between you and your teen need to enroll to activate for both.
  • Quarterly categories hidden. You won't know what each quarter's categories are until the quarter draws near.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
Balance transfer APR 14.99% to 23.74% variable
Welcome offer $200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus 5% cash back at grocery stores (not including Target® or Walmart®) on up to $12,000 in the first year
Estimated welcome offer value $200 based on Finder's valuation
Rewards 5% cash back on up to $1,500 combined in quarterly categories you activate, 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases

Best unsecured card for no credit
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited® logo
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 5%
Cash back
$200
Welcome offer
Like the Chase Freedom Flex, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is terribly powerful cash back card, earning a flat 1.5% back on all purchases in addition to the new unlimited categories introduced to the Flex. This card is also an excellent introduction to the Chase Ultimate Rewards program and can educate your teen on the ins and outs of credit card points.
  • Earn cash back. 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% on Lyft, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases. Cash back is earned as Ultimate Rewards points, which you can choose to redeem on cash back or other options.
  • Welcome offer. Earn $200 back after spending $500 in your first 3 months of account ownership. You can also earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • No annual fee. You won't pay an annual fee to use this card.
  • Foreign transaction fees. If you or your teen use this card abroad, you'll pay a 3%% fee on each transaction made.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
Balance transfer APR 14.99% to 23.74% variable
Welcome offer $200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus 5% cash back at grocery stores (not including Target® or Walmart®) on up to $12,000 in the first yeares) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year
Estimated welcome offer value $800 based on Finder's valuation
Rewards 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% on Lyft, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases

Best for no annual fee, everyday purchases:
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express logo
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 3%
Cash back
$100
Welcome offer
Like the name suggests, the Blue Cash Everyday is an excellent choice for letting your teen earn rewards on everyday purchases, including stuff they're likely purchasing anyway, such as groceries or gas. The card's lack of annual fee means that even if your teen ends up not using it much, it won't burden your finances to leave the account open.
  • No annual fee. You won't pay an annual fee to use this card, which lets you and your teen focus on building good spending habits.
  • Earn rewards on everyday purchases. This card earns 3% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 in annual qualifying purchases, reverting to 1%, 2% back at US gas stations and eligible US department stores, and 1% back on everything else.
  • Intro APR on purchases. The Blue Cash Everyday comes with a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months reverting to 13.99% to 23.99%. This makes it a strong choice if you need to invest in some school supplies or other larger purchases and pay it off interest free.
  • Cap on 3% tier. While it's unlikely to bother your teen much, this card only earns 3% back on groceries on up to the first $6,000 spent on eligible purchases each calendar year, reverting to 1 back. This leaves it less powerful than the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express in this regard.
  • Grocery rewards exclusions. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express excludes 'superstores' like Walmart or Target from its 3% back category.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer Up to $250: 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months for up to $150 back, plus $100 statement credit after spending $2,000 within the first 6 months
Estimated welcome offer value $200 based on Finder's valuation
Rewards 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1%), 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.
Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Best for introductory APRs
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on Citi's secure site
670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
n/a
Rewards
n/a
Welcome offer
Your teen likely (hopefully) doesn't have need for a balance transfer to wipe out some debt. However, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card as an excellent opportunity to settle some of your own debt and then open the floodgates to your teen so they can start building good credit habits. The card also comes with an intro APR on purchases, but it's unwise to make purchases on the card if you've performed a balance transfer, so hatch out a plan before you apply.
  • Intro APR. The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card comes with a 0%% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 18 months, reverting to 13.74% to 23.74% variable. This is one of the longest intro periods on the market.
  • No annual fee. You won't pay an annual fee to use this card.
    Four-month limit to transfer a balance. This card has a slightly longer than average time limit for transferring existing debts of 4 months. Many cards on the market give you just 30 to 60 days to make a transfer.
  • No rewards. This card is strictly focused on the intro APR offers, so this might not prove the greatest long term credit card option for your teen when it comes to building value.
  • Steep penalty APR. Missing payments can result in a penalty APR of 29.99% variable. Missing a payment can also lead to the loss of the card's intro APR. This isn't a problem if you pay your balance in full at the end of each month, so consider turning on automatic payments.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.74% to 23.74% variable)
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.74% to 23.74% variable)
Welcome offer N/A
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards N/A

Best for the whole family
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express logo
Finder Rating: 4.3 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95 ongoing
Annual fee
Up to 6%
Cash back
$150
Welcome offer
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is next step up from the Blue Cash Everyday and carries a $95 annual fee after your first year. But this fee is balanced out by much larger earning potential on everyday purchases. In fact, both you and your teen will want to hold on to this card even after they can apply for their own thanks to the card's top notch earning rates.
  • Earn cash back. Earn 6% cash back as statement credit on up to $6,000 annually, reverting to 1% after reaching the cap. Also earn 6 back on select US streaming services, 3% back at US gas stations and on transit purchases, and 1% back on everything else.
  • Welcome offer. Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in your first 6 months. You'll also earn 20% back on Amazon purchases made with your card, up to $200 total, within the same time frame.
  • Intro APR. This card comes with a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months, reverting to 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Rewards cap. Like the Blue Cash Everyday, the card's groceries earning rate is only 6% until you reach the $6,000 spending cap, after which it reverts to 1%.
  • Category restrictions. Superstores such as Target and Walmart don't fall into the 'grocery store' category based on Amex's specifications. Similarly, gas obtained at stores like Target or Sam's Club won't count as gas purchases for the sake of earning rewards.
Annual Fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer Up to $350: 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months for up to $200 back, plus $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.
Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Credit cards for different age groups

Tweens: 11–13 years old

This age range is a good time to introduce your tween to a debit or prepaid card designed for kids. 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 counter-intuitive 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 kid 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. 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 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. This means you can get your kid a credit card as soon as you think they are ready. However, some card providers have minimum ages of 13 to 16.

Should my teenager get a credit card?

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

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.

4. You can earn more rewards.

Why not get something in return for helping your teen build credit? Most credit cards let you earn rewards on purchases made by authorized users. Consider a credit card geared toward families as adding your teen as an authorized user on one of these cards could help you earn additional rewards on common purchases.

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.

Consider these cards for teen authorized users

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn up to $350. In your first 6 months, you can earn a $150 statement credit when you spend $3,000, and earn 20% back on Amazon purchases made with your card, up to $200 total. Having 6 months to earn a welcome offer is a rare benefit as most cards give you only 3. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1%), 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0
Earn up to $250. You'll get 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first six months for up to $150 back, and $100 after you spend $2,000 in the first six months. This is a higher-than-average welcome offer for a card with no annual fee. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
N/A
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.74% to 23.74% variable)
$0

Best of Finder 2021

An impressive 18 months intro APR on balance transfers and purchases, as well as no annual fee make this one of the top 0% APR cards available.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

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 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 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.
  • 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 the credit card information can be copied and used illegally. Also, teach them how to recognize which sites are safe and which aren’t for online use.

Which card issuers allow authorized users?

Each of these card issuers allows authorized users under 21 years old, though the minimum age varies. These issuers also report authorized user activity to credit bureaus, which can help the authorized user build a healthy credit score and history.

BanksAllows authorized users under age 21Minimum age of authorized usersReports authorized users to credit bureausCards that allow authorized users
American ExpressYes13 or 15 years old, depends on the cardYes, if at least 18 years oldAll
BarclaycardYes13 years oldYes, if at least 16 years oldAll
Bank of AmericaYesNoneYesAll
Capital OneYesNoneYesAll
ChaseYesNoneYesAll
CitiYesNoneYesAll
DiscoverYes15 years oldYesAll
HSBCYesNoneYesAll except HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card student accounts
US BankYes16 years oldYesAll
Wells FargoYesNoneYes, if at least 18 years oldAll

Alternatives to giving a minor a credit card

Though your teen could benefit from a credit card, you don’t have to give them one right away. You can start with a debit card and teach your teen solid financial habits as early as possible. When you’re confident your kid has the skills to manage their money, consider letting them graduate to a credit card.

Bottom line

Getting your teen on the path to a credit card can be a great way to help them financially prepare for the future. Before you make them an authorized user on an account, however, be sure they have proper financial supervision and that they understand the basics of how credit cards work.

Frequently asked questions

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and finder.com Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site