Card options for those under 18

Under 18? Sorry, no credit card for you -- at least not on your own. Laws generally forbid those under 18 from entering into contracts, and that includes applying for an individual credit card.  But there are still options for younger people who want to enjoy the convenience of plastic before they turn 18.

Young consumers can be added to an adult's credit card account as an authorized user. For an existing credit card account, the adult will need to contact the issuer and request to have an authorized user added. Alternately, young consumers may be able to get someone older to co-sign a credit card application for them. 

The danger in both cases is that they could hurt the credit of someone who did them a favor if any delinquencies occur. Additionally, any financial missteps by the authorized credit card user could harm the young person's credit score. So they need to be careful.

Meanwhile, some prepaid cards may allow individuals who are under 18 to apply with certain provisions. Applicants who are between 13 and 16 years of age will need parental consent to apply.  They're not credit cards -- they can be prepaid debit cards, or cards tied to a checking account.

Consumers should read the "terms and conditions" for various prepaid cards to see if they extend the opportunity to apply to those younger than 18.

If age 18 is just around the corner, consumers may want to wait and apply for a student credit card. Such a card will help them build a solid credit history through conscientious use and prompt payment of their bills.

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Updated: 01-19-2019