Home Credit Cards How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Credit Card?

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Credit Card?

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Credit Card?
Photo / Anete Lusina / Pexels

Building a strong credit history has a significant and lasting financial impact. It’s especially beneficial for young individuals as it can pave the way for achieving their life and financial goals. While you need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card, getting approved before the age of 21 can be quite challenging.

Photo / Anete Lusina / Pexels

How old do you have to be to get a credit card?

Minimum Age Requirement for Credit Cards

To qualify for a credit card, applicants must be at least 18 years old. However, meeting the age requirement alone is not sufficient. Credit card issuers also require proof of enough income to afford the monthly card payments. If an applicant cannot demonstrate sufficient income, they may need a cosigner with an established credit history to qualify for the credit card.

Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act

Introduced in 2009, the CARD Act brought in several consumer protections to ensure transparency and fair practices from credit card companies. One notable provision of the act is the minimum age requirement of 21 to open a credit card without a cosigner or independent income. However, young adults aged 18 to 21 can still qualify for a credit card if they can demonstrate enough independent income to cover their credit card debts.

Protection Against Unfair Business Practices

The CARD Act also serves to protect young adults from unfair business and marketing practices by credit card issuers. One example of this is the prohibition of gift giveaways as incentives for applying for a credit card. The law aims to ensure that credit card companies maintain ethical practices when engaging with young consumers.

How to get a credit card between 18 and 20 years old

If you are between 18 and 20 years old, demonstrating sufficient independent income is crucial to be eligible for a credit card. Only income or assets in your name will be considered towards meeting the income requirement. Even if a relative or friend intends to assist with monthly payments, their income cannot be included.

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In case you cannot meet the income requirement on your own, there might be a chance to qualify for a credit card with a cosigner or a joint applicant. However, not all credit card issuers allow the use of a cosigner.

It’s important for young individuals between 18 and 20 to establish their financial independence by proving they have enough income to manage credit card payments. This income must be independent and not reliant on assistance from family or friends. Cosigners can be an option for those who cannot meet the income requirement alone, but it’s essential to check with credit card issuers regarding their cosigner policies as not all cards permit it. Being informed about the criteria for obtaining a credit card is vital to make the right financial decisions.

How to get a credit card if you’re 21+

When applying for credit cards, age alone doesn’t guarantee approval; you still need to meet the specific requirements set by the card issuer. One of the crucial aspects that issuers assess is your creditworthiness, which they determine through credit checks. Additionally, factors like your income and employment status might also influence the approval decision and the interest rates applicable to your credit card.

To ease the process, some card issuers offer the option to prequalify for a credit card. The advantage of prequalification is that it won’t impact your credit score. However, it’s important to note that prequalification doesn’t guarantee approval; it simply provides a better idea of which cards you might be eligible for when you decide to apply.

As a 21-year-old or older individual, being eligible for credit cards is subject to meeting specific issuer requirements. These requirements involve thorough credit checks to determine your creditworthiness and set appropriate interest rates. Moreover, additional factors like your income and employment status may also be considered during the evaluation of your credit card application.

To make the process more accessible and less intrusive, some card issuers allow potential applicants to prequalify for a credit card. The advantage of prequalification is that it won’t have any negative impact on your credit score. However, it’s crucial to understand that prequalification doesn’t guarantee approval; it simply provides a glimpse into which cards you might be able to acquire if you decide to move forward with the application.

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Is there any way to get a credit card before 18?

Becoming an authorized user on a parent or legal guardian’s credit card can allow you to access a credit card before reaching the age of 18. This means you’ll receive your own card to make purchases, but the primary cardholder will be responsible for settling the balance. As long as the card issuer reports authorized user activity to credit bureaus, you have the opportunity to build credit.

Credit card issuers usually share authorized users’ account information with the major U.S. credit bureaus. When this information reflects positive credit behavior, like making timely payments or maintaining low credit utilization, it can positively impact the authorized user’s credit score. Several well-known credit card companies report authorized users to credit bureaus, including American Express, Barclays, Chase, and more.

If you’re considering adding someone as an authorized user to your card account, it’s essential to verify with your card issuer whether they report activity to authorized users’ credit reports. This way, you can ensure that the authorized user will benefit from the credit-building potential of the arrangement.

How to build credit for beginners

The Importance of Building Credit: Building credit is a process that requires time and discipline to master. One of the key tools to help build credit is your first credit card. However, it’s crucial to understand that merely having a credit card is not enough; how you use it and integrate it into your overall credit-building strategy matters significantly. To calculate credit scores, five primary factors come into play, each carrying a certain weight:

Payment History (35%): The most significant factor affecting your credit score is your payment history on credit accounts. Maintaining a history of on-time payments reduces the risk for lenders and positively impacts your credit score.

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Amounts Owed (30%): While it’s acceptable to have a balance on your credit accounts, using a large percentage of available credit can lead to financial strain and increase the risk of default when borrowing.

Credit History Length (15%): Having a longer credit history can be beneficial for your credit score. Creditors consider the ages of your oldest and youngest accounts, as well as the average age of all your accounts.

Credit Mix (10%): Diversifying the types of credit you have can improve your credit score. A mix of credit accounts, such as credit cards, installment loans, retail accounts, and revolving credit accounts, is considered favorable.

New Credit (10%): Opening several new credit accounts within a short period can have a negative impact on your credit score, so it’s important to be cautious with new credit applications.

Tips for using a credit card to build credit

Credit cards designed for building credit are available for those who are just starting to establish their credit history. Once you’ve chosen the right card for your financial situation, consider these tips to build a positive credit history:

  1. Spend wisely: Only use your credit card for purchases you can afford to pay off by the end of the billing cycle.
  2. Timely payments: Making on-time payments is crucial as it significantly impacts your credit score. A good payment history can enhance your creditworthiness and increase your chances of getting approved for future credit.
  3. Full balance payment: Avoid carrying a balance from one month to another to steer clear of expensive interest charges. Paying your credit card bill in full each month is advisable.
  4. Maintain low balances: Even if you have a higher credit limit, refrain from maxing out your card. Focus on covering essential expenses and keeping a low balance to improve your credit utilization ratio.

By following these guidelines, you can lay a strong foundation for a healthy credit history.