At What Age Can You Get a Credit Card?

Dayton Uttinger  | 

Getting a credit card has a lot of advantages, but not everyone can get their own. Only those 21 and up can apply by themselves. If you’re between 18 and 21, then you can get your own credit card, but you’ll probably need a cosigner and proof of income. Minors can become authorized users or get a prepaid card, but they can’t have their own credit card yet.

When Can You Get a Credit Card?

It really depends on what kind of card you’re looking for. Find your age category below to find out all the details.

Under 18 Years Old

If you’re under 18 years old, you can still have a credit card, it just won’t be your own. Ask your parents to add you as an authorized user on their credit card. You won’t be held responsible for the bill, but it can still help your credit. Your parents might agree to this arrangement, because it allows them to still keep track of your spending. Just don’t abuse the privilege.

Additionally, you can also get a prepaid or debit card, but these won’t help your credit. They are just a different way to spend money that you already have.

18 to 21 Years Old

You can do all of the above, plus some. The minimum age to get a credit card is actually 18, but you’ll probably have to jump through some hoops to get one. Lenders are less likely to trust you, since you’re a pretty new adult, so they’re going to want some proof that they can trust you.

They might first ask for some proof of income. If you can show them some paystubs or statements proving that you have a reliable stream of income, lenders will be more likely to give you a credit card. They might even call your employer to verify. A typical college student’s income is unlikely to be enough, so you might have to get a cosigner as well. This at least assures the lender that someone will pay the bill.

You can also get a secured credit card; you’ll be required to put down a deposit. This is very similar to a debit card, in that you have to have the money in the first place, but it does improve your credit score over time. If that’s mainly what you’re trying to accomplish, a secured credit card isn’t a bad idea.

21+ Years Old

If you’re 21 or above, the world is your oyster. Well, the credit world anyway. You can apply for anything, but you might still be hurt by a minimal credit history. If you’ve gotten a secured credit card beforehand, or at least been an authorized user, that will look good when you start applying for cards on your own.

You might’ve missed the memo, or maybe your parents weren’t the most understanding when it came to improving your credit. Whatever the case, it’s not all lost. There are plenty of ways to get your first credit card with minimal credit history.You’ll have to work at it, but it’s definitely an attainable goal.

Try to build credit early on, so that you won’t have to worry when you get older. Having an established credit history is one of the biggest advantages that you can give your future self. However, you can start turning your credit around at any point in your life. Once you’ve established responsible financial habits, consider getting a credit card. Responsibility matters more than age.


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Dayton is a chronic Wikipedia addict, which is detrimental to her social life but stellar for her writing. She resides in Boise, ID, surrounded by her own frantic outlines, highlighted encyclopedias, and potatoes. The latter was not by choice.

This post was updated August 14, 2018. It was originally published July 31, 2018.