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Best credit cards for teens under 18

These credit cards allow minors to build credit under the age of 18.

To get a traditional credit card, you have to be 18 years old. However, there are two ways around this to help teens build credit before turning 18. One option is for a parent or guardian to add the teen as an authorized user on their credit card, which many banks allow. Option two is getting the teen a credit-building card that reports payment history.

Before they venture into adulthood, explore the best credit card options for teens.

8 best credit cards for teens under 18 years old

These are some of the best cards available to help teens build credit, either by being added as an authorized user or starting to build credit history prior to turning 18 with a secured card like Step.

Best overall

Step

4.4
★★★★★

Finder score

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Step takes the win for Best overall with its secured credit card and digital account that's open to all ages, and requires an adult sponsor for those under 18. The Step card is a secured credit card that allows kids and young adults to build a credit history without taking on any debt. Teens can only spend the money that's in their Step deposit account. It has no monthly, annual or overdraft fees, late fees or no interest charges. They'll also earn up to on their savings balance when they set up at least $500 a month in direct deposits. Other features include cashback rewards with parental permission for those under 18, referral bonuses, investing options and financial literacy education. Parents online praise the lack of fees and credit-building opportunities.

Best for unlimited cash back

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

4.2
★★★★★

Finder score

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Terms apply, see rates & fees
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If you're a big spender and want unlimited cashback, this is a card worth checking out. The Quicksilver Cash Rewards allows authorized users of any age and has no annual fees. It earns 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases, and up to 5% cashback on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. There are also no foreign transaction fees, and cashback rewards don't expire for the life of the account, which you can redeem for cash or gift cards. But once the 15-month 0% intro APR period on purchases and balance transfers is over, your APR will be 19.99% - 29.99% variable. A balance transfer fee applies and late fees can be up to $40. Customers praise the 1.5% cashback that makes everyday purchases cheaper, and Capital One's signup bonuses.

Best for low-deposit secured card

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

4.4
★★★★★

Finder score

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While many secured cards require minimum deposits around $200 to $500, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card allows you to make a low deposit of $49, $99 or $200. The card accepts authorized users of any age, so it's a great starter card for teens. Parents could also earn their deposit back and upgrade to the unsecured Platinum card, if they maintain a positive history with the account. On the downside, you won't get a 0% intro APR, and you'll have an APR of 29.99% variable for purchases and cash advances, making it one of the highest APRs on this list. This card also doesn't offer a rewards or cashback program, and if you miss a payment you'll pay up to $40. Many customers praise this secured card, with many saying it was their first credit card, or the card they used to start rebuilding their credit score.

Best for cashback

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

4.6
★★★★★

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The Blue Cash Everyday Card was a no-brainer for our best overall for cashback, with its 3% cash back rate on select purchases, and acceptance of authorized users as young as 13. That 3% rate is for three categories: Supermarkets, online retail purchases and gas. Each category has a $6,000 earning yearly limit for the 3% rate, which drops to 1% afterwards. To reach your 3% earning cap, it'll take $200,000 in purchases for each category. All other purchases still earn up to 1% cashback, and there are other discounts available for select subscriptions and purchases. Plus, there's a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, and the APR is 19.24% to 29.99% variable afterwards, depending on your creditworthiness. But you may face a late payment fee up to $40. Customers on Reddit say they're a fan of the card, praising the subscription discounts, good cashback rate and fantastic Amex customer service.
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 balance transfers

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

4.6
★★★★★

Finder score

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This card offers a long 21-month 0% APR period for balance transfers, as well as a 0% intro APR for purchases for 12 months — significantly longer intro periods than other options. There's no age requirement for authorized users, making it a good option for your teen. Also enjoy no annual fees, and the Citi Entertainment program that has access to presale ticket access and exclusive events. While the 0% intro APR is great, there's a $5 or 5% balance transfer fee of the amount of each credit card balance transfer, whichever is greater, but that's pretty standard. After the 0% intro period for balance transfers ends, the APR rises to 18.24% to 28.99% variable for purchases and balance transfers. On the downside, it's one of the few cards on this list without a cashback or rewards program, and late fees can be up to $41. Redditors state the card is useful for balance transfers, but may not be the best everyday card due to the lack of rewards.

Best for no credit

Discover it® Chrome for Students

The Discover It Chrome for Students credit card doesn't require a credit history to qualify, making it a great option for young teens or those with no credit history. Teens must be at least 15 years old to qualify as an authorized user. The Chrome card is similar to the Discover It Secured card, but this one doesn't require a security deposit as it's a traditional, unsecured card. The cashback rewards are also solid, letting you earn up to 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 each quarter, and 1% unlimited cash back everywhere else. Like other Discover credit cards, you'll get a dollar-for-dollar match on all of the cashback you've earned at the end of your first year. There's a short introductory 0% APR for six months, then the rate goes up to 18.24% to 27.24% variable APR for purchases, depending on your creditworthiness. First late payment is free, and $41 afterwards. Customers online frequently mention Discover It Chrome as a top intro card for teens and college students, or for those with poor credit scores looking to get started with revolving credit.

Best starter credit card

Discover it® Secured

4.4
★★★★★

Finder score

With no annual fee, no credit score requirement, and accepting teens 15+ as authorized users, Discover It Secured credit card is a great starter card. Start with a $200 opening deposit and earn 2% cashback at gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 each quarter, and 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases. The dollar-for-dollar match program is offered as well, doubling all your cashback you earned at the end of your first year. After seven months, Discover reviews the account history to see if you qualify for a traditional unsecured credit card and you can earn your deposit back. However, the APR is 28.24% variable for purchases, and 29.99% variable for cash advances. Your first late payment is free, but afterwards, a $41 late fee applies. This card is highly praised and recommended online, with many customers stating it helped them unlock a regular unsecured card, they got their deposits back without asking and it was a great introduction to revolving credit.

Best for traveling students

Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students

4.1
★★★★★

Finder score

For the globetrotting students or parents, the Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students card is worth looking into. It's full of perks well-suited for traveling and everyday use. There's no age restrictions for authorized users, making a great option for teens. There are no foreign transaction fees or annual fees, and you can earn 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all purchases. Points can be redeemed for flights, hotels, vacation packages, rental cars and more. And if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of opening the card, you can get 25,000 bonus points — and the reward points don't expire. There's also a 15-month intro 0% APR period. Once it's over the APR goes up to 19.24% to 29.24% variable APR, and late fees are up to $40. The reviews for this card are mixed, with customers online stating the rewards program is lackluster, it's really only suited for international travelers and that there are better domestic travel cards to look for.

Methodology: How we choose the best teen credit cards

Finder’s banking experts look at over 700 credit cards to narrow down the best ones for teens. We heavily consider credit cards that accept authorized users under age 18, secured and unsecured options, cashback rewards and nationwide availability. We consider cards that meet this minimum criteria:

  • $0 annual fee
  • $0 or max $5 monthly fee, as long as there are extra perks.
  • Maximum APR of 30.50%
  • Credit scores 670 or lower

You must be 18 years old to apply for a credit card

Legally, you can’t get a credit card until you’re at least 18 years old. However, teens under 18 can become authorized users on an adult’s account, enabling them to build a strong credit history and increase their chances of qualifying for better credit card options — such as rewards or travel cards — once they’re old enough to apply. Many credit card companies require teens to be at least 13 to be added an as authorized user, but this varies by bank.

Once your teen turns 18, they can apply for a credit card on their own. However there’s a minor stipulation for those aged 18 and 20 years old: the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility Disclosure (CARD) Act requires that they must provide proof of income to show their ability to repay the card’s payments, or have a cosigner who is at least 21 years old. Once they’re 21 years old, these requirements are lifted, though many lenders may still request proof of income before approving a line of credit.

Are there credit cards for kids under 13?

There are some credit cards that have no age requirements for authorized users, making it a good it a good option for younger kids. Some banks without age requirements on authorized users include:

Authorized users age requirements

If you are looking for a credit card for teens under 18, 17 or 16, consider the minimum age for authorized users requirements to find the best fit for your situation.

ProductMinimum age for authorized userAuthorized user fee
Step Visa Card18+ to be a co-sponsorFree
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express13+Free
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card18+Free (Terms apply, see rates & fees)
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card18+Free (Terms apply, see rates & fees)
Citi® Diamond Preferred® CardNo minimumFree
Discover it® Chrome for Students15+Free
Discover it® Secured15+Free
Bank of America® Travel Rewards for StudentsNo minimumFree

Is your teen ready for a credit card?

It depends on your teen’s level of responsibility. If you’re not sure they’re ready, consider introducing them to a debit or prepaid card, such as Greenlight. These cards offer a safe way to teach teens how to manage their money while granting them some spending freedom. They often have spending limits, but they don’t typically build credit, and you may have to pay a monthly fee, depending on the provider.

Another option is to add them as an authorized user on a secured credit card or open a type of secured with more traditional banking options, such as Capital One. These cards allow teens to make purchases up to the amount available in their account, promoting responsible spending habits.

Pros and cons of getting your teen a credit card

There are many more upsides than downsides when it comes to adding your teen as an authorized user on a credit card.

Pros

  • Parents have control. You’d be the primary account holder, having control over the account and getting insight into their spending. Alternatively, you can add them to your account to help them build credit without giving them their own card.
  • Builds credit. Adding a teen as an authorized user helps them start building credit history early. This way, they’ll have better approval chances when they’re ready to borrow on their own.
  • Convenient for everyone. Instead of giving your teen cash for meals, transportation or supplies, a credit card means they always have access to funds, which is also helpful in the case of emergencies.
  • Earn rewards. With another user on your credit card account, you could earn cashback rewards or travel points from spending a lot quicker.

Cons

  • Overspending. There’s the risk that your teen goes buckwild with their new credit card and overspends. Avoid this by teaching them how their credit utilization ratio affects their credit score and how high balances make it hard to repay over time.
  • Late fees. These fees are often around $40 per late payment, which can really add up.
  • Could damage credit scores. If your teen overspends and you’re unable to repay the balance on time, it’s a surefire way to damage both yours and your teen’s credit score.
  • Theft or fraud. Although credit card fraud can happen even if you take all necessary precautions, teach your teen to recognize which sites are safe and which aren’t for online use.

What if my teen is entering college?

There are many student credit cards geared towards those exiting high school and entering college. And just because a teen is in high school doesn’t mean they can’t get a credit card. If they’re at least 18, they can apply for a credit card on their own — but they’ll need some income to prove they can repay what they’ve borrowed.

For a safer option, there are also secured credit cards and credit-debit cards that are secured by a bank account. One great example the Fizz card, which is a debit-credit card that’s designed with college students in mind. It offers cashback rewards, daily autopay to keep balances down, no interest charges and there’s no credit check.

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. However, before you make them an authorized user on an account, be sure they have proper financial supervision and understand the basics of how credit cards work

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