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At what age can you get a credit card?

Last Updated: January 19, 2023
3 min read

Key points about: credit card age requirements

  1. You must be eighteen or older to get a credit card in your name.

  2. Borrowers between eighteen and twenty must prove they have independent income to get approved for a credit card.

  3. Primary cardmembers may be able to add individuals younger than eighteen as authorized users to their credit card account.

If you’re ready to get your first credit card, you may wonder at what age you can apply. The short answer? Once you turn eighteen, you’re free to apply for credit. Still, there are a few things you’ll need to consider. 

According to the Credit CARD Act of 2009, credit card applicants aged eighteen to twenty must verify they have enough independent income to pay back their credit, such as income from employment or regular allowances. Once you reach age twenty-one, you can apply for a credit card using household income you have access to, such as income from your spouse. 

Regardless of legal age or income, younger borrowers may have difficulty qualifying for certain credit cards due to their lack of credit history (the record of your borrowing and repayment of credit over time). A credit history starts when you open your first credit account. Student and secured credit cards are designed for first-time borrowers with no credit history. And once you have your first credit card, making on-time payments and keeping your credit card debt low can help you build the positive credit you need to qualify for additional credit in the future.

Student credit card

Student credit cards are tailored to college students eighteen and older with little to no credit. Though they often have a lower credit limit (the amount you’re approved to spend by your credit card company), some student credit cards offer rewards like cash back programs. And by using a student credit card, you can build credit with responsible use.1 Building a good credit score can also help you with future goals like securing a mortgage or financing a car. 

The Discover it® Student Cash Back Card lets you earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.

Secured credit card

Borrowers eighteen and older with little to no credit history may also qualify for a secured credit card. A secured credit card requires a security deposit equal to the approved credit amount. And after a series of consecutive on-time payments, you may get your deposit back and qualify for an unsecured credit card. And depending on the credit card company, secured credit cards could provide cash rewards for each eligible purchase you make.

There is no credit score required to apply for a Discover it® Secured credit card.2 And you can upgrade to an unsecured card after six consecutive on-time payments and maintaining good status on all your credit accounts, and if you qualify, Discover will increase your credit line.3 You can also earn cash back on your next road trip with 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants, on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.4

Can you use a credit card before you’re eighteen?

Although minors cannot apply for a credit card, a credit card issuer may allow individuals under eighteen to become authorized users on an adult’s credit account. The minimum age may be different for different issuers.

Authorized users receive a card with their name on it, which they can use to make purchases. While the primary account holder is the only user legally responsible for making payments toward the card’s balance, late payments may negatively affect the credit history of all users listed on the account. 

As long as the lender reports the account activity to a credit bureau, the authorized user can begin building credit if both users spend responsibly and make on-time payments.1 From family members to friends, at Discover, it’s easy for a primary account holder to add authorized users fifteen and older to their credit card account. 

While you can get access to a credit card as an authorized user before the age of eighteen, you’re limited to using a card someone else has chosen and allowed you to access. Eighteen is the earliest age you have the option of applying for a credit card in your own name. Regardless of your route, using a credit card responsibly is key to building good credit and long-term financial success.


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