Our pick for authorized teen users: Chase Freedom Flex℠
Up to 5%
- 5% back in rotating categories on up to $1,500 quarterly, then 1%
- New rewards on travel, dining and drugstores
- No annual fee
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Our pick for authorized teen users: Chase Freedom Flex℠
Up to 5%
|Card||Age limit||Annual fee|
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||15+||$0 (Terms apply, see rates & fees)|
|American Express Cash Magnet® Card||15+||$0 (Terms apply, see rates & fees)|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||15+||$0 intro annual fee (then $95, see Terms apply, see rates & fees)|
|Chase Freedom Flex℠||13+||$0|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||15+||$0|
|Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card||None listed||$0|
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Banks||Allows authorized users under age 21||Minimum age of authorized users||Reports authorized users to credit bureaus||Cards that allow authorized users|
|American Express||Yes||13 or 15 years old, depends on the card||Yes, if at least 18 years old||All|
|Barclaycard||Yes||13 years old||Yes, if at least 16 years old||All|
|Bank of America||Yes||None||Yes||All|
|Discover||Yes||15 years old||Yes||All|
|HSBC||Yes||None||Yes||All except HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card student accounts|
|US Bank||Yes||16 years old||Yes||All|
|Wells Fargo||Yes||None||Yes, if at least 18 years old||All|
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.
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.
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