Posted by William Charles on May 7, 2018
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Published on May 7th, 2018 | by William Charles


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

Reposting this article as per Mommy Points the minimum age requirement for American Express authorized user cards has dropped to 13 years of age (previously 15).

One of the common questions I get from people, is how old do you have to be to get a credit card? Usually it’s from parents that are into chasing credit card sign up bonuses, but sometimes young adults ask as well. There are a few different factors that are related to age when it comes to credit cards, so lets take a look. I’ve broken it down into different age brackets to make things easier if you’re a specific age.

21 & Older

There are no age restrictions if you’re 21 years of age or older. That doesn’t mean you’ll be automatically approved for all credit cards, just that your age will not play a factor in if you’re approved or denied. Credit card issuers will still take into account things like your credit score and income.

There is no upper age limit on credit cards, you could be a senior that is 150 years old and card issuers would not be able to use your age against you.

Under 21

The Credit CARD Act Of 2009 contains some very specific regulations surrounding persons under the age of 21. In terms of approval, you can be approved if you meet one of the following two criteria:

  • Proof of income (e.g pay stub or tax return) or assets that is sufficient to pay off any credit debt incurred.
  • A co-signer over the age of 21

Card issuers are also prohibited from some marketing tactics: They can’t show you pre-screened offers unless you’ve opted in to receive those offers (something I suggest you do so that you can receive targeted offers. But only if you’re responsible enough to get a credit card without incurring debt you cannot repay) and they cannot offer tangible gifts (e.g a free tshirt or slice of pizza) to students.

Basically if you’re under the age of 21 you’ll either need a job with proof of income or you’ll need to get somebody to co-sign for the credit card.

What Is A Co-Signer?

If you co-sign for a credit card, then you will be joint owners of the credit card. Both owners will be able to make purchases on the card and make changes to the card (e.g requesting credit limit increases/decreases). You’ll also both be liable for any late payments made on the card and it’ll affect your credit as well as theirs.

You should only co-sign for a card if your comfortable with this risk to your credit and are happy to pay for purchases if they refuse to pay as well.

Under 18

If you’re under the age of 18 then you cannot have a credit card in your name, even if you find somebody willing to co-sign for you. You can become an authorized user on somebody else’s account though (e.g your parents).

What Is An Authorized User?

An authorized user is somebody that has access to use a credit card, but is not responsible for the repayment of that credit card. For example, if you make your child an authorized user on one of your credit cards then they will be able to legally use that credit card but you will be held responsible for any charges they make to that card.

Authorized users are only able to make purchases with your credit card, they can’t make other changes/requests. For example they can’t do any of the following:

  • Request a credit limit increase/decrease/reallocation
  • Redeem rewards
  • Change the information on file (e.g address)

Authorized User Minimum Age Limits

Card issuers have different minimum age requirements when it comes to adding somebody as an authorized user. Below are the minimum age limits that we know of:

Main card issuers:

  • American Express: 13+ years of age (changed from 15+ in May 2018)
  • Bank of America: 18+ years of age (maybe not enforced)
  • Barclaycard: No age minimum (might be 13 now. At least it is for Barclaycard Uber card)
  • Capital One: Not aware of minimum (somebody that was 15 got added)
  • Chase: No age minimum (doesn’t require SSN)
  • Citibank: No age minimum (doesn’t require SSN)
  • Discover: 15+ years of age
  • US Bank: No age minimum

Smaller card issuers:

  • Nationwide: 16 years of age

What Card Issuers Report Authorized Users?

One of the main reasons of adding an authorized user for somebody who is under the age of 18 is to help them build their own credit history. Card issuers are required to report all spousal authorized users, but some do not report non-spousal authorized users. The major card issuers all do, but some of the smaller ones don’t. I’d recommend reading this post on how being added as an authorized user affects your credit, it also includes information on which issuers do and don’t report non-spousal data.

Should You Add Your Child As An Authorized User?

I don’t have kids, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. I think it is a good idea to add your children as an authorized user to help them build a credit history before they turn 18/21. Just keep in mind that you’ll be responsible for any charges they make on the credit card, this is a good opportunity for you to teach them about basic budget skills and high interest rates on credit cards as well. You can always add them onto a card with a low credit limit to reduce any associated risks, or simply shred their card as soon as it arrives so they can’t put any purchases on it anyway (missed learning experience in my opinion).

Final Thoughts

I think it’s great that a lot of parents want to help their children build their credit from an early age. I think it’s really important that parents teach their kids about the dangers and also benefits of using credit responsible and hope that anybody that did add their child as an authorized user also gives them a well rounded credit education as well.

Otherwise you might just be setting them up for getting bigger loans and credit limits than they can handle at an early age. Feel free to share your experiences and data points in the comments below.

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I’m under 21, and have gotten more than 5 cards without ever providing proof of income or a co signer.

Discover, Multiple Chase, Barclaycard, Multiple Amex, and Citi.

Under 21 here, 3 cards, never had to provide proof. Discover IT, Sallie Mae Mastercard, Amex BCE. There were blanks where I had to provide my income (or an estimate thereof), but proof was never required.

For the IT you didn’t need proof of enrollment in college? I have 2 friends who applied and did have an income but both applied separately and both needed to provide documentation of current enrollment in college.

So if my 18 year old signs up for a card and I co sign A) will he still get the signup bonus even if I (as the co signer) wouldn’t be eligible? B) any data points on how chase applies the 5/24 rule to co signers?

I just checked Discover. The authorized user must be 15 or older. They do need the SSN and DoB

Yup. Was thinking about building credit for my 9 year old, my 6 year old and my 2 year old lol. Didn’t work!

Chase lets you add kids.

lol the earliest I’d add a kid is 15. You can’t really “build credit” until you’re 18. Some cards will even let you backdate an AU’s history to the date the card was opened even if it predates them being added by 5 years which would give them the same history as if they had it at 13.

It’s good for them to get the idea of Credit and managing a card, but there should also be a time and a place.

If you want them to have $ on the go you can load a prepaid card or get them a teen checking.

Just my two cents YMMV

That makes absolutely zero sense.

If you add them as an authorized user at 2 years old they will have a very good aged credit report when they turn 18 thus will be starting well ahead of the curve. There’s no rule you have to tell them they are authorized users (I suggest you don’t below like ~16) and either shred the cards or sock drawer them. I added my mom as an authorized user on one of my cards and she never even saw the card, I just shredded it when it came.

Backdating is going out of style, so don’t depend on it existing in the future.

For the Barclaycard. At least AAdvantage Aviator card, they ask for the authorized user 13 or older. I just want to apply a credit card for my 1 year old

The reason why most under 18 cant get a CC is because your not allowed to enter into a legally binding contract until your 18.

Also I got CCs at the age of 16 because I lied and nobody checked, culprits were Amex, and Citibank.

Omg I was going to post the same exact thing.
At 16 Amex and Citibank both gave me CCs.

You sure it wasn’t your post and you just commented on it? lol Carlos.

I don’t think the AU spot will report on their credit report if they do not provide their social security number.

Not true. Could be true if they don’t HAVE a SSN.

will match up if the address is the same, right?

Name, Address, Birthday, etc. Whatever information they are given they will match with existing known people. A social security number is merely one identifier among many.

My wife had the AU on my BofA card reported before she had an SSN. (You can get a credit report from the bureaus without SSN requesting it via physical mail.)

Does the child’s credit score improve if the adult is making purchases with their account? Or does the child’s credit score only improve if the child’s card is being used to make purchases?

In other words, can you just put the child’s credit card in a sock drawer and watch their credit score improve over time? I would think this is how most parents would see it effective to raise and establish a great credit score for their child.

You can even cut up the child’s card. There’s no need for the AU card to be used in order for the credit line to report.

So the child’s credit score does not move up or down based on anything other than the aggregate purchases made on the account by anyone?

Yes, the score is somewhat relational to the Parents.

My 18 year old daughter, has been an AU for sometime and her FICOs are almost 800, and her CR shows almost 100k of CL.
She works and recently applied at the local CU where she banks, but she has just been working summers and they said she needed a min of 12K income ( CU underwriting reqs) and she only made 7K last summer. The CU rep was really surprised at her scores and that she even had a score, from what my daughter told me.

We recently open a self lender account so she has installment credit reporting. She does have a pre-approval from 1st Finical bank ( No AF and 0% APR -but jumps pretty high after that – its a starter card then a sock drawer card).

I have been using her to put organic spending on cards after we meet MSR, then sock drawer those cards. I’m going to be sad when she just wants to use her own card 😉

We mainly did this so if she has to take out student loans she shouldn’t need a co-signer.

Great Info Yoni as always.
What’s a “self lender account” ?
I missed the Alliant loan trick bandwagon and my credit report lacks installment loan to further improve my credit score.

The Alliant loan trick was a lot better as you could pay down a big chunk and also kick the can down the road (re-extend the loan). But is a great option for no/bad credit or lack of installment loan on CR. Can auto pay with debit card or ACH from checking monthly.

It goes into a CD for 12/24 months (but you also are paying an APR%)

Looks like I’ll end up paying quite a bit in interest. I already have a credit credit score hovering around 800 so I don’t need to do it but good option for someone who want to build their credit.

I remember getting my first credit card when I was 12. My uncle added me as an authorized user and gave me an annual birthday allowance equivalent to 3 x my age. It felt good to be the only kid (I knew) who had a credit card. I used it only once for a $9 charge. ha ha…

I applied to my first credit card (Discover) at the age of 18 and it was approved.

Will, can you also explain what is reported to AU’s file? Do the credit lines carry age from the original opened date or from the date that the AU is added?

@Mohammad M I know that you asked Will, with my 18 YO daughter, all have shown the original open date , the most recent was when she turned 18 in March I added her to my BofA (18yo req). It is reporting original opening date when it recently reported. Its kinda of Funny that her FICO is higher on EXP than mine (and ATM only AU are reporting).

That’s good to know.
Thanks Yoni

Another way of asking part of my previous question: Is a co-signer the same thing as a “joint” account, or is the account only in the teen’s name, with the co-signer acting strictly as guarantor?

Related: What constitutes “proof of assets” to gaurantee repayment? If my 18 YO can show a savings account with a $5K balance in his name, is that sufficient to get a $5K CL from a card issuer?

Did some sort of law change about this where banks have to do their due diligence when approving credit card apps now? I have a friend whose credit was absolutely DESTROYED by his dad. His Dad opened up credit cards in his name, using his SSN when he was under 18. The cards were maxed out and never paid. When it came time for him to start opening a few credit cards, that is when he figured it out. No one would approve him. He got his credit report and that is when he figured out he had cards in his name well before he was 18.

He doesn’t speak with his dad anymore.

Does the co-signer get a hard pull during such an application?

You forgot Capital One. I added my teenage daughter to my Capital One Venture card. They did require her SSN and specifically told me they will report it on her credit. I believe she was 15 when I added her as an authorized user. I’ve also added her to some of my Chase cards, but since they didn’t ask for her SSN, I’m assuming she’ll get no credit help from those.

@Becky Blaine Chase has reported been reporting for my 18YO for some time, Chase doesn’t need a SSN if they reside at the same address, My daughter has been a life guard and instructor since she was 15, has DD and files taxes, so she also has a Chexsystem file already and her FICOs are almost 800 at 18 (I really don’t want to cosign for student loans, would rather sell her a rental house to help her out and keep her and future grand-kids in the Portland area.

I have my now 13 year old as an AU for my chase freedom card with Chase (for one year now). No SSN was required. Anyone know if this will help build her credit score? I hope it does.

It should. A social security number is merely one identifier among many.

You might want to update Barclay authorized user minimum age. Just tried adding a toddler online to the Uber card and I received an error saying that the authorized user needs to be 13 or older.

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