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

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If you have children you may want to help them improve your financial management skills. Or maybe you are a young adult looking for a way to be more financially independent and looking for a way to attain it.  In any case, you may be wondering, how old do you have to be to get a credit card?

In this article, we’ll delve into the age restrictions, explore the options available for different age groups, and provide insights into the nuances of obtaining a credit card, ensuring that individuals are well-informed on this crucial financial milestone.

At what age can you get a credit card?

The standard age for obtaining a credit card is 18, which aligns with the legal age for entering contracts. This means that for those under 18, opening an individual credit card is generally unavailable.

However, even if you are 18 and want to get your own credit card, extra prerequisites still apply.

Individuals under 21, lacking their own credit history, stable income, or a favourable credit score, may face additional criteria from most credit card issuers.

Fortunately, there are some alternatives that you can explore.

How to get a credit card before 18

Generally, you can’t get a credit card before 18 on your own. Not every credit card company has the same minimum age.

Some credit card issuers offer a special account with a spending card for kids and young adults aged 6-17. However, they are still connected to else’s credit card account.

These are the options that you can consider if you are underage or you are looking for a card for your child:

Authorized user

Young adults under 18 usually cannot open their own credit cards but can access credit by becoming authorized users on someone else’s account. An authorized user can charge the card and may receive their own card linked to the account.

Every credit card issuer has its requirements for an authorized user, and it’s crucial to note that they are not obligated to report their activity to credit bureaus.

If such information doesn’t appear in a credit report, it may not affect the authorized user’s credit.

However, a history of late payments, missed payments, or high credit utilization by the primary cardholder could negatively impact your credit score.

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Prepaid card

Consider obtaining a prepaid card. It differs from a credit card. However, credit bureaus do not receive reports on transactions made with it, so it does not contribute to credit building.

While a prepaid card allows for online and in-person purchases similar to a credit card, it operates independently of a credit line as it requires upfront funding.

Credit cards for those under 21

Before turning 21, you may need to demonstrate adequate independent income for credit card payments.

This income encompasses full-time, part-time, or seasonal job earnings, self-employment income, as well as interest, dividends, public assistance, or shared income regularly deposited by someone else into your account or a joint account.

If independent income is insufficient, you might require a co-signer, guarantor, or joint applicant to meet specific requirements.

However, not all credit card issuers permit these additions, and if you’re under 21, applications can only be made in writing.

Despite obstacles like age, limited income, or a lack of credit history, alternative options exist for initiating credit building.

Options may include secured cards with upfront deposits, student cards accommodating limited incomes, or the possibility of being added as an authorized user on account of a family member or trusted friend.

Student credit cards

Student credit card is one of the main options for college students over 18 but under 21. A student credit card account is created for an individual without an established credit history.

This kind of credit card account is more accessible than a regular one, albeit with lower credit limits and potentially higher interest rates.

Usually, these cards offer student-relevant benefits and the opportunity to build a credit history for financial independence.

Responsible use is crucial for maximizing these advantages. Additionally, you can explore pre-approval for card offers without affecting your credit score before applying.

A credit card

Secured credit cards

Secured credit cards are suitable for those with no credit history or poor credit scores. A secured credit card mandates a deposit to open an account. The deposit acts as a credit limit and is typically refundable.

The deposit safeguards the credit card issuer against payment failure and is refundable upon account closure or upgrade to help users build or rebuild credit.

The cards have relaxed income requirements, aiming for a transition to an unsecured card, commonly known as a traditional credit card.

These cards minimize risk through the required upfront deposit, providing opportunities for credit improvement along with low fees and perks on spending. The ultimate goal is to transition to an unsecured credit card.

When deciding between a prepaid card and a secured credit card, it’s crucial to note that prepaid card usage is generally not reported to credit bureaus. Consequently, prepaid cards cannot establish or build credit.


Yet another option is to apply for a credit card with a co-signer if you’re at least 18. In this case, a co-signer possessing good credit and income commits to covering your credit card balance if necessary.

While major card issuers generally disallow co-signers, smaller banks and credit unions may offer this option. Still, those in this role must be at least 21 and capable of making payments on the account.

Alternative payment cards

In recent years clients have seen various new alternative credit cards presented to the market. While these cards can be suitable for individuals with limited or no credit history, meeting income requirements remains essential.

Notably, these alternative cards do not necessitate deposits.

One of them is the swissmoney. The swissmoney card provides a seamless experience for both in-store and online purchases, making it a versatile option for various transactions.

Whether using the virtual or physical swissmoney card, you can effortlessly shop at any location accepting contactless payments.

Moreover, the user-friendly interface of the swissmoney mobile app enhances convenience. Users can easily manage their cards by setting, adjusting, and controlling them through the app.

Additionally, the app supports the storage of digital assets in multiple currencies, allowing users to conduct swift and secure currency exchanges.

With global withdrawal access available at any ATM within the Mastercard network, the swissmoney card ensures users can conveniently access their funds whenever necessary.

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Applying for a credit card after 21

To qualify for a traditional credit card, you need to meet the issuer’s requirements. For individuals over 21, credit report assessment is crucial for approval, focusing on payment and debt history.

Acquiring a credit card initiates credit history building, essential for future loan approvals and favourable interest rates.

More credit card options may become available with responsible credit use and established income. Moreover, they can allow you to earn rewards, such as cashback or travel insurance.


Can I get a credit card at 16?

You can secure a credit card at 16 by becoming an authorized user on an adult’s credit card account.

However, to obtain a credit card in your own name, you must wait until you’re at least 18 and then demonstrate independent income or have a cosigner.

Can a 14-year-old have their own credit card?

14-year-olds are not allowed to enter credit card agreements. However, usually, 13 and 16-year-old kids can become authorized card users.

On the other hand, most teen debit cards typically require a joint account holder (usually a parent or guardian) who is at least 18 years old to sign up. Typically, these cards function as mobile-first applications.

Can a 14-year-old have a bank account?

Yes, but specific conditions apply. Individuals under 18 often need to have a parent or guardian present, and the parent or guardian may need to be an owner or co-owner of the account with the teen.

How do you start building credit?

Positive credit history, excellent credit score, and overall credit health are vital when it comes to financial matters. Therefore, you need to be very careful while managing your money.

Start by keeping it simple – your first credit card should be your only card. Prioritize building credit for a minimum of six months before getting more cards.

The key is responsible use. Cultivate good credit habits, particularly making on-time payments, to gradually build or rebuild your credit score over six months or even longer.

Avoid the lure of excessive spending with your newfound credit.

Understand the factors credit bureaus consider – payment history, credit utilization, credit mix, and new credit. Grasp how each of these factors contributes to determining your score.

Most importantly, strive to pay off the full balance every month. It not only helps you steer clear of credit card debt, but it also safeguards your credit.

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Živilė Šarkauskaitė

Živilė is a writer with a diverse background, having worked with tech start-ups and pioneering brands across various industries. Her profound interest in progress and innovation drives her to the field of Fintech, a realm that sparks her curiosity and inspires her to share insights with others.

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Please be advised that the information presented in this article is intended for general informational purposes only. It should not be construed as professional advice from swissmoney. It is important to note that swissmoney does not act as a financial adviser, and individuals are strongly encouraged to seek independent advice from qualified legal, financial, or accounting professionals before making any decisions related to cryptocurrency investments. Furthermore, investing in cryptocurrency assets carries inherent risks, and individuals should be aware that they may potentially lose all of their invested capital.

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