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.
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.
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).
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.
I got following cards without any co-signer before I turned into 21 (Legally in 2018-01, and I got my SSN in 2017-04), and I was a temp CPC between 2017-04 and 2018-01.
SelfScore @ 2017-03 (now Deserve, right before I got my SSN)
(Right after I got my SSN:)
Discover @ 2017-04
CSP @ 2017-04 (Applied for CSP and CF at the same time, both rejected but CSP was opened after reconsideration, and CF…… I just skipped that for later)
(Little bit later:)
CSR @ 2017-06
CF @ 2017-09
AmEx Platinum @ 2017-11
JP Morgan Ritz-Carlton @ 2017-12
Hilton Aspire @ 2018-04
Citi Costco @ 2018-05
So I don’t really think a co-signer is a must for people between 18-21.
I’m applying for cards for children I’ve considered producing , so they have an 800 when they are born. Will let you know how this goes. I’ll use the names “Maybe Charles” as first/ middle
One thing you should think about is that credit bureaus are constantly getting hacked. By putting your child in the system early, you may be opening them up to identity theft unnecessarily.
Also, how do you know that by the time the child hits 18 the laws regarding counting AU as credit history time won’t have changed?
BofA info is not quite correct. My 9 y/o is an AU on my BofA Premium Rewards card… there was no issue adding him.
officially it’s 18, but I guess not always enforced. Let me update.
Recently added my 3-month old as an AU to Chase Freedom. He seems to be happy about it.
cap 1 doesnt have a min age
i add my 2 year old
Are you sure chase doesn’t require ssn for authorized user? I know when I add my wife for an employee business card, I always have to enter her SSN.
5 days ago I added AU to my chase freedom via website. Name and DOB only. I’ll paste link, as I couldn’t find how to add them in any of the menus while logged in. I only found via a web search.
@Dan Business cards are different than personal
from the “Add Employee card page”
The third box down and to the left it shows SSN (optional) then under the xxx-xx-xxxx box it reads: “We only use the employee’s Social Security number for authentication purposes and when they enroll at chase.com.”
FWIW Biz cards AU don’t report on personal CR , which is a good thing if because you could have have biz card from your employer with a 250kCL but at 85% util it would hurt your score as well as late payments, charge offs etc.
i was able to add both my toddlers as authorized users for my BOA card, so we can have the first week of the month museum visit for free.
Thanks for the tips. Will add my preschool kids as AU of Citi and Chase cards.
Valuable post on something I haven’t seen covered before. Thank you