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 15.24% to 26.24%.
  • 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.
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Which card issuers allow authorized users?

Credit cards that allow authorized users under 18

Card Age limit Annual fee
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express 15+ $0
American Express Cash Magnet™ Card 15+ $0
Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® 13+ $0
Discover it® Cash Back 15+ $0
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card None listed $0

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
$0
17.24% to 25.99% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 17.24% to 25.99% variable)
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
$0
15.24% to 26.24% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$0
17.24% to 25.99% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 17.24% to 25.99% variable)
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
18.24% to 25.24% variable

N/A

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
$95
15.24% to 26.24% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$0
15.24% to 26.24% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
$450
19.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
$550
None (Charge Card)

N/A

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
$0
14.24% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 14.24% variable)
A low, variable APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable
0% for the first 12 billing cycles (then 18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable)
Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$0
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
$95
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

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
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

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
$0
12.99% to 17.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 12.99% to 17.99% variable)
Earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $2,500 in the first 90 days from account opening.
$0
11.99% to 17.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 11.99% to 17.99% variable)
2% cash back for all PenFed Honors Advantage members and 1.5% cash back on all purchases made with your card.
$0
11.99% to 17.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 11.99% to 17.99% variable)
Earn 5x points on gas at the pump and 3x points on groceries. Earn 1x points on all other purchases.
$0
15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable)
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees.
$0
13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable
0% for the first 18 months (then 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% 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.
$495
17.24% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 17.24% variable)
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
$195
17.24% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 17.24% variable)
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
$995
17.24% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 17.24% variable)
Earn 1x points when redeemed for airfare through the Luxury rewards program.
$0
15.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Build your credit with no fees: Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score over 620.
See terms
See terms

N/A

The First Access Card is a true Visa® credit card that does not require perfect credit for approval.
$0
9.24% to 17.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 9.24% to 17.99% variable)
Low APR on all purchases including cash advances.
$0
11.99% to 17.99% variable
4.99% for the first 12 months (then 11.99% to 17.99% variable)
Earn a $100 bonus after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.
$0 to $99
20.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases.
$0 to $99
20.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV.
$0 to $99
20.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases and double cash back rewards at the NASCAR.com Superstore.
$0 to $99
23.9% fixed

N/A

The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card is specifically designed for those with less than perfect credit.
$48
9.99% fixed

N/A

This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.
$35
19.64% variable

N/A

A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
$39
14.74% variable

N/A

No minimum credit score and no credit history required.
$49
10.74% variable

N/A

Build or rebuild your credit with this secured card.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Filter values APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee Interest Free Period
9.99% fixed
$48
This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.
19.64% variable
$35
Up to 25 days
A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
10.74% variable
$49
Up to 25 days
Build or rebuild your credit with this secured card.
26.74% variable
$0
Up to 25 days
No credit history or minimum credit score required for approval.
9.99% fixed
$49
Up to 25 days
Fast, easy application process with no processing or application fees.
13.99% fixed
$39
Up to 25 days
Designed for those with little or poor credit, the Green Dot primor® Mastercard® Classic Secured Credit Card has no minimum credit score requirements and no processing or application fees to worry about.
14.74% variable
$39
Up to 25 days
No minimum credit score and no credit history required.
20.74% variable
$29
Up to 25 days
Build your credit with all three major credit bureaus.
17.99% fixed
$39
Up to 25 days
Borrow up to $10,000 and get your credit score back on track.

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
See terms
Build your credit history with low monthly payments.
See issuer's website
See terms
Get 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 an unsecured line of credit.
See terms
Shop the items you need at myuniqueoutlet.com with up to a $1,000 credit.
5.75% to 23.99% variable
$0
Buy now, pay later — low monthly payments make shopping easier

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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