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

Credit Card Age

Building good credit is one of the most essential things a young person can do. In our increasingly cashless environment, demonstrating your ability to handle a credit card properly is one step toward financial independence. The sooner you start, the quicker you will be able to establish your creditworthiness. However, most card issuers require a minimum age of 18 to be a principal cardholder, and obtaining a credit card before the age of 21 is not often easy.

Here’s a fast reference guide to important facts for first-time credit applicants, including the minimum age for owning your own card.

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

The credit card industry’s usual rule of thumb is that cardholders must be at least 18 years old. However, if you are under the age of 21 and have no or poor credit history, most credit card companies will need you to present proof of income to prove that you can pay your expenses on your own.

If you are 18 but do not have the qualifying income for a standard credit card, you may apply with a cosigner or apply for a secured credit card, which requires you to put down a security deposit that serves as the card’s credit limit.

Many issuers offer a lower minimum age for authorized users than for new cards if you are under the age of 18. An authorized user has access to another person’s account and credit limit, but the main cardholder is responsible for paying the amount. Many credit issuers report approved users to credit agencies, therefore being an authorized user will most likely enhance your credit score. However, if the principal cardholder has bad credit habits, such as a history of late or missing payments or heavy credit use, their decisions may result in a derogatory mark on your credit report.

How to start raising your credit score

You must use your card wisely once you get one. Beginning with solid credit practices might help you boost your credit score quickly. Consider the following elements when evaluating your credit score: payment history, credit usage, age of credit, credit mix, and new credit.

It might be tempting to spend with your newly accessible finances when you are just getting started with credit. However, it is critical to always spend within your means in order to prevent incurring credit card debt. Using your credit card only for purchases you know you’ll be able to pay off at the end of the month, keeping your credit utilization (how much of your available credit you’re using) under 30%, and paying your credit card bill on time and in full are some of the most important things you can do to maintain your credit score.

Begin with one card and focus on establishing credit for at least six months before applying for another. Taking the effort to build a solid credit score can open the door to a whole new tier of credit cards with greater rewards, rates, and welcome bonuses.

The Verdict

Turning 18 opens the door to a slew of new credit-related financial options. Whether you apply for a starter credit card, a secured card with a deposit, or want to be an authorized user on someone else’s account, be sure you utilize your credit wisely and make timely payments. Learning strong financial habits today will put you on the path to good credit and even more chances later on.

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