Credit Cards
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Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page.

Advertiser Disclosure

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the card offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products.

Disclaimer: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone. For a full list of our advertisers, see our disclosure page.

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page.

Credit Cards for Teens: Best Options and What You Should Know

Teenagers have several credit card options available to them depending on their age. The minimum age to qualify for your own credit card account in the United States is 18 years old. Teens who're 18 years of age or older can get their own credit card by applying independently, getting a secured credit card, or getting a parent or guardian to co-sign their credit card. If you’re a parent or a guardian of a teen who is under 18 years old, then you can get them a credit card by adding them as an authorized user to one of your existing cards.

Getting a Credit Card for a Teen Who Is 18 and Over

Teens who're at least 18 years old have more options when it comes to getting their first credit card when compared to younger teens. We list the different options that these teens have when applying for a credit card below:

Normal Application Process: Teens who have a source of income—such as a job—can apply to credit cards directly without the help of a parent or a guardian. The Credit CARD Act of 2009 tightened regulations on credit card companies by requiring applicants who are under 21 years of age to demonstrate their ability to make payments on their credit cards. This proof of income burden on credit card issuers means that, if a teen doesn’t have a job, then they'll have a hard time getting approved for a credit card. Any allowance that a teen receives, even if its on a regular basis, is not counted as a source of income.

Secured Credit Card: Secured credit cards are great options for teens with no source of income. A secured credit card is like a regular credit card with the exception that the applicant is required to make a security deposit to open their account. The deposit functions as collateral should the credit card user fail to make payments on their balance. The security deposit also functions as the limit of the credit line the credit card issuer will grant the user. For example, if you open up a secured credit card with a security deposit of $500, then you won’t be allowed to spend more than $500 on your card. The security deposit is returned to the card user once the account is closed, or—in some instances—once the card user's deemed to be creditworthy. A secured card can be a good credit card for a teenager to build credit.

Co-Signed Credit Card: Co-signed credit cards are a joint account between a parent or guardian and their child, and are another option for teenagers with no source of income. The person who co-signs for the credit card will also be responsible for payments to the account. For instance, if a parent or a guardian gets their teen a co-signed credit card and the teen fails to make payments, then the parent or guardian’s credit history will also reflect the missing payments. A co-signed credit card affects the credit of both the card user and the co-signer.

Getting a Credit Card for a Teen Who Is Under 18

There are limited options when it comes to credit cards for high school students and credit cards for minors under 18. The only way for someone who's under 18 to get a credit card is to become an authorized user on someone’s existing card, such as a parent or guardian’s credit card.

Becoming an Authorized User to a Credit Card: Getting added as an authorized user to an existing credit card can help a teen build their credit score. However, not all credit card companies report authorized user accounts to the credit reporting agencies. This means that you’ll want to check with your credit card issuer to see if they report authorized issuers before adding anyone to your account for the purpose of increasing their credit score. If the credit card owner pays their credit card bills on time and practices good credit habits, then the authorized user’s credit score will benefit. Similarly, poor credit card habits such as late payments and carrying large balances can have a negative effect on the authorized user.

Making your child an authorized user on your credit card holds you liable for charges they incur. For instance, if they spend $600 at the mall on video games then you’re responsible for the charges even if you didn’t approve of the transaction.

Some credit cards charge a fee to add an authorized user. Parents and guardians should ask their credit card company about the costs associated with adding their teen as an authorized user to their credit card. Additionally, some credit card companies have an age limit requirement that authorized users need to meet. Below we list some credit card issuers and their age requirement:

Credit Card IssuerMinimum Age Requirement
American Express15 years
Bank of AmericaNone
Barclays13 years
Capital OneNone
ChaseNone
CitiNone
Wells FargoNone

Being an authorized user can help a teen’s credit score, but if the teen is removed as an authorized user at some point in the future then this will shorten their average account age, which is a negative factor in the eyes of credit rating agencies. The best practice is to keep the teen as an authorized user for as long as possible or until they have established their own credit history. When the teen is removed as an authorized user, their credit score will decrease in the short term.

What Is the Right Age to Get My Teen a Credit Card?

While there isn’t a “right” age for a teenager to get a credit card, a recent survey by T. Rowe Price revealed that 68% of parents think their kids should be 15 or older when they get their first credit card. This was the overwhelming consensus as only 12% of parents thought a younger age was appropriate and 19% thought their kids should never have a credit card. The same survey revealed that 18% of kids have a credit card. A study by the Wisconsin School of Business showed that teens that get a credit card earlier in life were less likely to default in the future and had higher credit scores. However, it's important to note that socioeconomic factors—such as having a high household income could influence the results. The age that a teenager should get a credit card ultimately depends on their financial literacy and readiness which will vary among teens.

Pros and Cons of Getting Your Teen a Credit Card

If you’re considering getting your child a credit card, you should consider the many benefits and drawbacks that come with the decision. Below we list some of the biggest benefits and drawbacks:

Benefits

  • Allows parents or guardians and their kids to track spending patterns
  • Creates the opportunity for parents or guardians to teach their kids about responsible credit card spending and credit scores
  • Establishes a credit history for your child which can save them money later in life
  • Offers parents or guardians and their kids convenience
  • Useful in emergency situations

Drawbacks

  • Creates an opportunity for your child to damage your credit score if they are an authorized user
  • Could have a detrimental effect on your kid’s credit if you don’t pay your credit card bill on time or carry large balances and they are an authorized user
  • Increases the likelihood of a card being lost or stolen

Some Student Credit Card Options

Student credit cards are credit cards that are geared towards college students. Student credit cards function the same way that regular cards do, but have lower credit limits, have a higher rate of approval for those with no credit history, and have rewards programs geared towards students. As the name implies, student credit cards are typically restricted to college students, which includes two or four year college or universities. Use our tool to compare student credit cards below.

Assumptions Based On Monthly Spend of: $1,430 Edit
General:
U.S. Gas Stations:
U.S. Supermarkets:
Airlines:
Hotel:
U.S. Restaurants:
Office:
Utilities:
Computing:
Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s welcome bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any welcome bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card and on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Discover it® for Students
$0 1.50%
$171
Discover gives a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. (New cardmembers only)
$514
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
171 x $1 = $171
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 514

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 14.49% - 23.49% Variable

Card Details

  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or Amazon.com up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.49% - 23.49%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Discover it® chrome for Students
$0 1.50%
$171
Discover gives a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. (New cardmembers only)
$514
Graph Card More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
171 x $1 = $171
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 514

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 14.49% - 23.49% Variable

Card Details

  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter - no sign-ups needed. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.49% - 23.49%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Citi® ThankYou® Preferred Credit Card for College Students
No Annual Fee 1.23%
$25
Earn 2,500 bonus ThankYou points after you spend $500 within the first 3 months
$423
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 39,840 x $0.01 = $398
Bonuses
0 x $0.01 = $0
2,500 x $0.01 = $25
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 423

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 13.99%, 18.99% or 23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 2 ThankYou points per dollar on purchases for dining at restaurants and entertainment
  • Earn 1 ThankYou point per dollar on other purchases
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
$0 1.00%
$0
$343
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 343

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 24.99% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One® and is not part of our independent analysis.

Deserve® Edu Mastercard For Students
No Annual Fee 1.00%
$0
$343
Graph Card More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.01 = $343
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 343

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR

Card Details

  • 1% unlimited cash back on All purchases
  • Deserve will pay for Amazon Prime Student, get free Video, Music, and Reading ($49.99 value)
  • Up to a $5,000 credit line
  • $0 annual fee
  • No security deposit or co-signer required
  • Builds credit history
  • Use anywhere in the world where Mastercard is accepted
  • Includes Mastercard Platinum Benefits like Price Protection, Travel
  • Assistance, ID Theft Protection, Car Collision Damage Waiver & Extended Warranty
US Bank College Visa® Card
No Annual Fee 0.00%
$0
$0
Graph Card More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 0 - $0
Bonuses
0 - $0
0 - $0
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 0

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 11.99% - 20.99% Variable

Card Details

BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students
Image of BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students No Annual Fee 0.00%
$0
$0
Graph Card More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 0 - $0
Bonuses
0 - $0
0 - $0
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 0

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 10.99% - 20.99% Variable

Card Details

Sources:

Comments and Questions

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Info about the following cards: American Express® Gold Card, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. 

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.