How Old Do You Have To Be To Get a Credit Card?

Credit cards are one of the most commonly used payment methods. Keep reading to learn how old you must be to get a credit card.

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Adam Moelis
Jan 17, 2023
10 min read

The total number of credit cards in the United States has steadily been increasing over the years. In recent years, the total number has surpassed one billion, making credit cards one of the most popular payment methods. 

Credit cards' convenience and perks make it easy to understand why they’re so popular. But those aren’t the only reasons why credit cards are so popular.

Credit cards are an excellent way to build up your credit score as long as you're responsible with spending. Making a purchase and using your credit card will naturally accrue debt. 

When you pay off this debt, it’s reported to the credit bureaus and reflected positively in your score. For that reason, getting a credit card as soon as you’re legally permitted is a good idea. 

What’s the Minimum Age To Apply for a Credit Card? 

You must be 18 years old to sign a credit card contract legally. However, it’s pretty challenging to get one before age 21, thanks to the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. 

The law intends to protect young people from being the victim of predatory credit offers. You could probably imagine how dangerous a credit card would be at that age for most people. 

As a result, getting a credit card can be pretty challenging for someone under 21. It would require proof of a steady source of income with the addition of an established credit history. 

Neither of these qualifications is particularly easy for most 18-year-olds. The good news is that other options are available for people under 21 and those under 18.

How Can You Gain Access to a Credit Card Before Being of Age?

Having a credit card is an enormous responsibility that carries severe consequences. Simply applying for a credit card will significantly affect your credit report

The repercussions of using a credit card irresponsibly can last for a long time. You should only get involved with them when you’re 100% ready.

Some people reach the maturity levels for a credit card earlier than others. If you’re under the age of 21 and know that you can use a credit card wisely, here are the three best options you have for getting one:

Become an Authorized User

The easiest and most effective way to gain access to a credit card is by piggybacking on an existing one. In most cases, the card in question will belong to a parent or legal guardian who trusts you to make wise financial decisions. 

By becoming an authorized user of their account, you’ll get a card that functions the same way as your primary one. However, the primary cardholder is the one that’s ultimately responsible for the purchases made for each card. 

As long as the balances get paid on time, you can build a positive credit history as an authorized user. Most issuers have a minimum age for authorized users, typically in the mid-teen range. 

However, some have no such requirements, so parents can add their children as authorized users to help them build up their credit history early. Doing so would significantly increase their child's chances of getting a credit card offer at 18. 

Get a Co-Signer

Enlisting the services of a co-signer can significantly increase the chances of an applicant aged 18 to 20 getting approved for a credit card. Co-signers are very similar to becoming an authorized user on a credit card. 

In both cases, you borrow someone else's credit to gain access to an account. The difference is a co-signer merely endorses a credit card, while an authorized user joins an existing account.

Finding someone with a solid credit history and a decent credit score is essential when looking for a co-signer. Perhaps more importantly, it needs someone willing to assume the legal and financial responsibilities of being a co-signer. 

You’ll be the account’s primary cardholder, but you and the co-signer will share the debt accrued equally. Late payments and high balances would hurt anyone's credit whose name is on the account. 

Use a Prepaid Card

Technically, a prepaid card isn’t the same thing as a credit card. The activity on a prepaid card doesn’t get reported to the credit bureaus, so having one doesn’t do much good. 

However, it can be an excellent trial run for someone considering a credit card. You can test your financial responsibility without accidentally running up a huge credit card bill.

The way that it works is pretty simple. You purchase a prepaid credit card and add money to it. You can then use it to make purchases online or in person. The card's spending limit is the amount of money you put on it. 

When that money runs out, you can either add more or get rid of it. Again, you won’t be building credit with a prepaid card, but you can find out if you’re ready for the real thing. 

What Should You Look for in a Credit Card?

There are tons of options for credit cards out there, and no two are the same. Having multiple credit cards is a good idea, but that doesn’t mean you should apply for just any card. 

You’ll need to be very selective and strategic with your credit card applications. These are a few things that you’ll need to take into account when looking for a credit card:

The Purpose

The first thing you need to consider is the card's purpose. Is it to build credit? Is it to earn rewards? Is it to pay off other debts? Depending on the purpose of your card, it can lead you in wildly different directions:

A secured credit card is best for building credit, so you don’t accidentally damage your credit. Still, credit card rewards come in exciting packages, so be sure to explore your options before deciding. 

Paying off other debts with a credit card is risky, but looking for cards with the lowest interest rates possible is best in such a financial hardship. 

The Fees

Very little in life is free, and that wisdom applies to credit cards. The best credit cards tend to charge an annual fee. However, you can find plenty that won't include such a fee. 

Make sure you look at the fine print before applying for a credit card. You could wind up paying a significant price to use your new credit card.

Also, you should be wary of any late fees, foreign transaction fees, or balance transfer fees associated with your card. Ideally, you won’t have to deal with any of them, but picking a card with the lowest combined fees is best. 

You never know when you might incur one and dig yourself into a financial hole. 

The Rates

The interest rates of a credit card are often misunderstood. Many believe that interest rates get applied to every purchase you make with your credit card. 

If that were the case, no one would use their credit cards as the lowest interest rates range between 16% and 18%. If you use your credit card responsibly, you may never pay a single dime in interest.

Credit card companies only charge interest on balances that haven’t been paid by the due date each month. So, if you were to spend $3,000 with your credit card, you wouldn’t pay a cent extra as long as you paid off the balance by the end of the billing cycle. 

If you still had a balance by that time, you would be hit with interest. To avoid serious debt, you should only use your credit card to make purchases you can afford to pay off within 21 days. 

The Location

The preponderance of major credit cards is accepted everywhere. There might be some restrictions here and there, but generally, you can use them for most scenarios. However, there’s no guarantee that the credit card you’re applying for is universally accepted. 

You’ll need to double-check and find exactly where you can use your credit card. After all, what good is a credit card that you can’t use when you need it the most? 

On the other hand, starting small might be a good idea. You could get a store credit card to help teach you how the system works. You would only be able to use it at the store’s locations. 

That might help you to avoid running up a massive credit card debt that can be difficult to pay off. After getting used to the concept of credit, you could move on to one accepted in more locations. 

Get a Card That’s Best for You

Age is only one factor that determines your eligibility for a credit card. Technically, you can apply for a credit card at 18. 

However, you’re unlikely to get approved unless you have a co-signer, steady employment, and solid credit history. Once you’re 21, the requirements are less strict, and getting a credit card will be easier.

Looking for an excellent credit card can be more complex than you think. You’re likely to be flooded with offers, but most are for cards with lousy benefits. You should consider the Yotta credit card as your first credit card for something truly special. 

They’re universally accepted, help to build your credit, and feature no interest or fees. It’s the perfect credit card for anyone starting their credit journey.

If that weren’t enough, using your Yotta credit card will get you additional tickets for the daily sweepstakes drawing. You can search for decades, but you’ll never find a credit card that gives you a free opportunity to win millions every day.

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