While credit cards can be a valuable tool to help young adults build credit and prepare for their financial future, there are certain requirements that must be met. The most common question parents and young adults have is, “How old do you have to be to get a credit card?”
Discovering this answer and gaining insight into other requirements a first credit card applicant should meet is a great starting point for finding the perfect first credit card.
Typical Age Requirement to Open a Credit Card
The typical age when someone can apply for and get approved for a credit card is 18. Having control over your personal finances and opening lines of credit is one of the perks of becoming an adult. While there are many benefits that come along with this access to credit, those 18 years of age and over are considered old enough to handle a credit card responsibly and understand the damage that can be done to one’s credit if the card is used incorrectly or mishandled.
The caveat for securing a credit card, as you start college or embark on a career, revolves around income. Having a good credit score may open the door to low-interest credit cards that include age-appropriate rewards. But lending institutions generally have income thresholds and other safeguards in place for 18-year-olds to ensure repayment. That’s why full-time students without jobs may need the assistance of an authorized user or co-signer, typically a parent.
Using co-signers to secure a credit card has not necessarily been an impediment. According to a U.S. News and World Reports study, more than 67 percent of college undergraduates have a credit card in their own name while 9 percent use credit cards as authorized users.
Authorized User vs. Co-Signer Explained
One of the top strategies parents can employ to help their children build credit early is designating them as authorized credit card users. An authorized user is when someone is added to an account and permitted to use the primary account holder's line of credit. The primary account holder is responsible for monthly payments however, as an authorized user there are certain perks. For example, the results of responsible borrowing and repayment can positively influence their credit score.
In terms of having a parent co-sign for a credit card or loan, the young adult is responsible for timely repayment. The co-signer can be held accountable in the event the primary cardholder fails to meet their obligations. But when the primary account holder uses the card responsibly, they typically experience greater credit scores and borrowing benefits.
Children Under Age 18 Can Build Credit
The major credit bureaus monitor when young adults become active with their credit and while everyone starts with a blank slate, you can begin practicing responsible credit building skills before the age of 18. A good credit score can help a young adult transition into adulthood by reducing the cost of car insurance, renting an apartment, qualifying for certain occupations, getting auto loans, and even buying a home. All of these examples are affected by credit scores. The better the credit score, the more likely you will be approved for your loan, and most likely at a lower rate. Parents can help their children get ahead of the process by using the following credit-building strategies.
- Teach children how to manage finances responsibly at an early age.
- Open a youth savings account and maintain a healthy balance.
- Encourage youngsters to save up enough money to get a share secured loan when they turn 18.
- Allow your child to become an authorized user of a credit card before turning 18.
Parents can feasibly take out a low-interest credit card and add a child as an authorized user. When the bill comes in, work with your child to set a payment schedule and set reminders to pay off the full amount they charged on time.
Besides Credit, Your First Credit Card May Require More
To qualify for your first credit card, applicants will need to demonstrate financial responsibility. Although securing that first credit card may take a little extra effort, it helps position young adults for major borrowing opportunities later. These are ways young adults can maximize their chances of getting approved for a credit card with a reasonable rate.
- Establish income through a part-time student job or full-time career.
- Check your credit score.
- Get copies of your credit reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
- Request credit bureaus correct any errors.
- Fix any credit history blemishes before applying.
- Calculate and adjust your debt-to-income to 20 percent or less.
- Consider applying for a secured credit card.
- Look for credit building programs that offer a student credit card or low-interest rate credit card.
Great First Credit Card Options
While searching for a first credit card, be sure to check with your local trustworthy financial institutions in addition to online credit card companies and big banks. It’s true that credit cards issuers tend to have stringent guidelines in place when approving applications for young adults. But to some degree, many of these rules help young people avoid missteps that can impact their financial futures. While larger credit card companies may have numerous cards to choose from, their mission is not centered around serving their local communities.
Peach State strives to make a meaningful community impact putting people before profits. We're proud to be a not-for-profit financial cooperative that advocates financial education, smart saving habits, and sound credit practices to enrich the lives and financial well-being of our member-owners. Profits earned above expenses are returned to members in the form of lower loan rates and higher earnings on savings accounts. Be sure to consider Peach State’s credit card options when finding the perfect first credit card for your needs.
Here are a few cards you should consider when trying to find the best first credit card for you:
Student Credit Card
The minimum age for a personal credit card stands at 18 years old. The best opportunities come with reasonably low interest and waive a number of fees corporate lenders try to cash in on. When researching the best student credit cards, check the rate and potential hidden costs such as annual fees, and charges for balance transfers and cash advances. The best student programs may even throw in no-cost transaction alerts and emergency card replacements.
Rewards Credit Card
Gen Z doesn't always have access to the same level of credit card perks that older demographics enjoy. And when corporate cards do offer rewards, users find the exorbitant interest rate and fees outweigh the benefits.
Just because you're new to establishing a financial track record doesn’t mean there aren’t great rewards programs out there. Even a cursory glance into the programs offered by local lenders shows a wealth of excellent rewards that include redeemable retail bonus points and travel rewards, among others.
If you're looking for a local credit card you can trust, explore the options Peach State offers. Our Student Visa Platinum with Rewards Card and Visa Platinum with Rewards Card all charge no annual fees and feature fee-free balance transfers, fee-free cash advances, emergency card replacement, and real-time transaction alerts.
Peach State Has the Right Credit Card for Your Needs
Now that you have a better understanding of how old you have to be to get a credit card and what to look for in your first credit card, please contact us if you need help determining which credit card option is best for your financial situation.
If you're ready to apply for your first student credit card or rewards credit card, apply online with Peach State today.