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How old do you have to get a credit card? Many people are unsure whether they or their children can obtain credit cards if they are under the age of 18. As we all know, credit cards are one of the essential steps in establishing a credit history. If you start soon, you will have much time to improve and maintain your creditworthiness. Let’s opt for suitable options from the list Hanfincal provides below in this article.

1. How old do you have to get a credit card?

You must be at least 18 years old for signing up for your own credit card. In some states like Alabama and Nebraska, you can have one only when you are 19. To be approved for a first credit card under the Credit CARD Act of 2009, 18-to-20-year-olds must either have a cosigner or provide proof of income or regular allowances.

Americans aged 21 and up have a better chance of getting a credit card with good rewards if they already have a credit history. Suppose you’re 18 but do not have the required income for a traditional one. In that case, you also can apply with a cosigner or apply for a secured credit card, which requires you to put down a security deposit that serves as the card’s credit limit.

2. Get a credit card after 21

After the age of 21, it’s more likely that you will be able to obtain credit cards faster than those who are younger. However, you must first meet the prerequisites before applying for one. Your credit history and profile primarily determine your ability to obtain a credit card at this age. The length of your credit history is only one factor that credit card issuers consider when reviewing your application.


Your payment history and the amounts you currently owe to lenders are two of the vitally important factors in your credit scores. If you have missed payments and outstanding balances on your credit reports, your credit may be insufficient to qualify for the card you want.

If you already have one, you want to focus on your credit scores. You can raise your credit score with a single click. It’s completely free and is still waiting for you. Don’t pass up this opportunity. Here is the quickest way to help you get your credit score online with several simple steps.


3. Get a credit card from 18 to 21

When you reach 18 years old, you can apply for a credit card on your own. However, if you are under 21, you’ll need to prove that you have a consistent source of income to qualify. Federal lawmakers enacted the CARD Act of 2009 because they did not want young consumers to accumulate mountains of debt.

This Act also states that if you are under the age of 21, you must demonstrate your ability to pay your card bill. You can report your own income, such as scholarships and grants and wages from your job. If you don’t have enough income, you can add a cosigner — someone who agrees to pay if you default. You may harm your cosigner’s credit history if you pay late.

  • Obtaining a cosigner: Because the cosigner is responsible for payments if you fail to make them, the credit card company will usually want to ensure that person has good credit and the ability to repay debts.
  • Options for credit cards for the young who do not have a cosigner
    • You can look into student credit cards specifically designed for students.
    • Secured credit cards that request you to “secure” the account with a cash deposit are also a second choice. Although this is the disadvantage of secured card limits, the good news is that the card may be able to help you build your credit history.

4. How to get a credit card under 18?

Can you own a credit card at 14, 16, or 17? The answer is no. As mentioned at the beginning, you have to be at least 18 years old to open a credit card account in your own name. However, you still can get one through some specific ways below.

4.1. Authorized user

If you want a card under 18, you can get one by becoming an authorized user on someone else’s card (typically your parent or legal guardian). Some issuers require a minimum age to become an authorized user.

Some credit card companies issue a separate card to authorized users linked to the primary account holder depending on the credit card issuer. Others authorize credit card authorized users to use the primary account holder’s card to purchase.

Suppose the credit card issuer reports authorized user activity to the credit bureaus and all the on-time payments; being an authorized user can help you have a positive credit history.

4.2. Prepaid card

A prepaid card may also be referred to as a prepaid debit card or a stored-value card. It is a card that can be used to make purchases with money preloaded. A prepaid card allows you to make purchases online and in person in the same manner that a credit card does, but it is not linked to a line of credit. Prepaid card activity is not reported to credit bureaus, thus it will not help you establish credit.

5. 4 Signs that you are ready to have a first credit card

Though you’re old enough to apply for a credit card, it doesn’t mean that you are ready to have one. Credit ratings and income are also significantly weighed by most major card providers. Make sure you meet some of the following requirements before getting a credit card of your own:

  • Know how to stick to a budget: It’s important to clarify that the “free money” you get from credit cards is a loan. If you don’t pay it back on time, you’ll rapidly find yourself in financial trouble because of the excessive interest rates you’ll have to pay on top of the loan. That is why it is critical to set up and stick to a budget before receiving a card.
  • Understand how credit cards work: A credit card is an essential tool for building credit, but it can also put you in debt. That’s why it’s critical to use your credit card responsibly. On top of that, your credit cards might earn benefits like cashback, points, or miles to use for travel on every purchase you make. 
  • Build credit history: A good credit history might help you get loans and get the best interest rates.
  • Have a steady income: It’s crucial to have a consistent monthly income to cover your living expenditures, credit card obligations, and savings. Owning a fixed income helps you ensure the ability to pay off your credit card debt every month.

6. Credit cards young adults could apply for

Credit cards young adults could apply for

Credit cards young adults (18 – 24 years old) could apply for

6.1. Secured credit cards

If you’ve reached the legal age to apply for a credit card in your state but don’t have enough credit history to qualify for an unsecured credit card, a secured credit card may be a good option.

When you close or upgrade this secured account, you will receive your deposit back. The goal is to build credit to eventually switch to an unsecured card, also known as a regular one. Secured cards are designed for those who want to build or rebuild their credit, so the income requirements are usually more relaxed.

6.2. Student credit cards

A student credit card works the same way as a regular credit card. They are unsecured, so there is no need for collateral or a security deposit.

These cards are designed for college students, and applicants with no credit history may be eligible. Moreover, it is issued by a bank or credit union and can be obtained whether you are a part-time or full-time student.

How old do you have to get a credit card? The ideal and legal age is 18, but there are some options to get it early. Try to choose the best credit cards for yourself such as the no annual fee or cashback credit cards. Prepaid cards and becoming an authorized user are two major suggestions that will assist you in taking advantage of this opportunity to begin building your creditworthiness. Hanfincal thinks numerous options provided above can be useful for you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below so we can help.

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