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Having good credit is one of the most important things you’ll ever work on in your life. The sooner you realize that, the better. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize it until it’s too late and they spend years trying to correct their bad financial decisions. Don’t be that person!
So, how old do you have to be?
Well, you can get a credit card at 18, but you’ll need a cosigner and proof of your income. For everyone else, you have to be 21 years of age to apply for a credit card.
When you turn 18, you may begin to notice credit card offers from different companies. It’s very tempting to take the first offer you see and apply. In most cases, that first offer is terrible.
Not always, but you have to be mindful of what you’re applying for and most young adults don’t have a clue what APR and other credit terms mean.
21 Is The Youngest You Can Apply For A Credit Card
Before they passed the Card Act of 2009, you could apply for credit at the age of 18 by yourself.
Now, the legal age to apply for a credit card is 21. In fact, you didn’t even need a job to apply for credit back then, most people would get approved immediately.
What do you do when you get approved for $300 as a 18 year old? You go shopping of course!
Today, you need a cosigner to apply for a credit card at 18.
If you want to get a credit card at 18, you’re going to need your parents to vouch for you. Easier said than done, right?
My old man would of told me “no” and that would of been the end of the conversation.
I received my first credit card at 18, back in 2001, before the Card Act. It didn’t take long after for me to be maxed out on my $200 credit limit.
If you’re fortunate enough to get your parents to cosign for you, make sure you keep your account in good standing.
Late fees and interest can cost you a lot of money, so make sure your always paying your payment on time. If you don’t make your payments and the card company can’t reach you, you best believe they’ll be calling your parents.
Some 18 year olds are working and are responsible, good for you if you are. If you have proof of that income, you may not need a cosigner to apply for credit.
The credit card issuer will likely call your employer and you may have to send in your W2s in order to get approved.
The good news, you still can get credit at 18, it’s just easier and less dramatic if you’re 21 years old.
Adding An Authorized User
Another way your parents can help you start your credit is by making you an authorized user on their credit card account.
If your parents have good credit, this is simple to do.
The good news, the credit will report on your credit report, this will help you establish credit and start building a positive credit profile.
If you can start at 18, you can get a high credit score in the years to come and as we said earlier, that’s one of the most important things you can do as a young adult.
As an authorized user, you can be as young as 13 years old. While some people may think this is too young, we feel it’s a great opportunity and learning moment.
If you’re a parent, grandparent or guardian, this is a great way to start your child’s credit profile. 13 is the lowest age requirement from Barclays. 15 is the lowest age requirement for American Express. For U.S. Bank, their lowest age requirement is 16.
It’s also a great way to teach your children the importance of credit, which is something we always recommend.
You’re never too young (at the age of 13) to begin learning about credit and money.
Even if you don’t start until 15 or 16, the main thing is educating your children and preparing them the best way you know how.
As a parent, you likely already know how important your credit is. Of course, we want to give our children the best possible start, so take the time to help your children build their credit.
Yes, always keep an eye on your account, teenagers do dumb things. This education is a lifelong lesson that benefits your kids.
Finding The Best Credit Card Options
As we said prior, it can be tempting to take the very first credit card offer you see. We recommend waiting it out.
More than likely, you’ll get more than one credit card offer. Collect a few of them and choose the best option, not just the first option.
One thing you can do to get more credit card offers is joining websites like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame. These platforms allow you to monitor your credit, which we highly recommend. Always keep an eye on your credit.
Another great thing about signing up (which is free), you’re going to get credit card offers.
They will also give you approval odds based on your credit. While your approval odds are not in stone, it can help you see which cards give you the best opportunities to get approved. That’s never a bad thing.
Back to our point, every credit card is different.
There’s a lot of different credit card types out there you want to become familiar with, such as cash back credit cards, reward credit cards, travel credit cards, student credit cards and the list goes on.
Make sure you sign up to Credit Shout so you can learn about credit cards and building your credit.
We have a ton of amazing content on our website to help give you the knowledge you need to always make great credit decisions.