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Can 16-Year-Olds Get Credit Cards?

Can 16-Year-Olds Get Credit Cards

According to recent statistics, about one-third of American teenagers have credit cards. The minimum age requirement is typically 18, but some may wonder, can 16-year-olds get credit cards? We’ve looked into it, and below is what we’ve found.

Can a 16-Year-Old Have Their Own Credit Card?

No, individuals must be at least 18 years old to enter a contract and obtain a credit card.

However, 16-year-olds can become authorized users on someone else’s credit card account.

Can 16-Year-Olds Get Credit Cards

This means that the primary account holder is legally responsible for any charges made on the card, but the authorized user can make purchases and build their credit history.

What Is Minimum Age for Credit Cards?

You must be 18 years old to apply for a credit card in the United States.

This is the age when you have enough responsibility to pay your credit card bill on time, and it’s also the age that credit card issuer requires for applicants.

If you are younger than 18, some credit cards will allow a parent or legal guardian to apply for a card and use you as an authorized user.

How Can I Build My Credit?

Building good credit is a long-term project, so if you’re 16 years old and just starting, it might be a while before your credit score starts to reflect your responsible financial habits.

But there are some important steps you can take right now to set yourself up for success when you’re ready to apply for loans or get approved for renting an apartment.

Can 16-Year-Olds Get Credit Cards

Here are some tips on how to build your credit at 16:

Understand What it Means

Your credit report and score help lenders evaluate your reliability as a borrower.

A good score shows that you’ve been responsible with money in the past and that they can also expect your future financial decisions to be responsible.

Check Your Credit Report and Score

You’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Checking your report allows you to see what information is being reported about you, so you can make sure it’s accurate.

Checking your score gives you a good idea of where you stand regarding lenders’ expectations. You can check your score for free at sites like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame.

Pay Your Bills on Time Every Time

To build up good credit, it’s best to pay off debts like rent and utility bills promptly every month – even when you aren’t using them.Can 16-Year-Olds Get Credit Cards

This will help demonstrate to lenders that you have good financial habits when you’re ready to borrow money.

Consider Taking Out a Small Loan

A small loan could include a small personal loan or a private student loan. 

If you need to borrow money for something significant, like college tuition or a car, start building your credit now while you still have time before borrowing big.

Maintaining Healthy Habits

Keeping your finances at the forefront of your mind is the key to correctly building your credit.

This will help you be mindful about spending and saving money and encourage you to stay responsible with credit cards and bank accounts.

Can I Build My Child’s Credit?

There are several ways to help your child prepare for the milestone that is the age of 18 and being able to apply for their first credit card

One option is to add your child as an authorized user on one of your existing credit cards. 

This means they will get a copy of the card but won’t be responsible for payments – only you are liable for those payments.

Can 16-Year-Olds Get Credit Cards

Another option is to start small and limit their use of credit as much as possible. 

You can do this by having them use only the money that they have saved or that you give them for specific purchases.

This will help prevent them from accumulating debt or spending more than they can afford.

Additionally, you can establish a budget for your child, including how much money they will save each month and what expenses they will need to cover.

This will help teach your child about responsible financial management and allow them to see the impact of their spending decisions.

With time and guidance, your child will be well on their way to credit success.

Does Adding a Child to Credit Card Help Their Credit?

Adding a child to a credit card account can help improve their credit score, especially if you are a responsible cardholder.

If a parent has a great payment history and adds their child as an authorized user on one or more of those accounts, they can benefit from that positive payment history by showing up on their credit report.

Can 16-Year-Olds Get Credit Cards

This can help them get a credit card account with a bank in the future.

What Credit Score Do You Start At?

The starting point for credit scores given by the US’s most commonly used credit-scoring models is 300.

However, this is unlikely to be your first credit score unless you are financially irresponsible.

After receiving your first credit product, such as a credit card or school loan, you usually start developing credit.

Your credit score could rise from 500 to 700 during the first six months, depending on how effectively you use your credit.

Going forward, it often takes years to reach an excellent credit score of over 800 because the average age of your credit plays a role in your score.

Is It Illegal to Give Your Child Your Credit Card?

It is not illegal as long as they are added as authorized users. 

Sharing a credit card with your kids is a great way to teach them about budgeting and financial responsibility. 

Can 16-Year-Olds Get Credit Cards

In this way, you can still set your preferred credit limit, closely monitor your child’s purchases, and remind them to stick to their budgets.

On top of that, you can still check the online statements or keep tabs on how much they spend.

What Is a Good Credit Score?

Although score ranges vary based on the credit scoring model, fair credit scores typically fall within 580 to 669.

Fair credit scores fall between 670 and 739, and good credit scores are considered in the range of 740 to 799.

An excellent credit score at the top end of this spectrum is generally considered 800 or higher.

Whether you have fair, good, or excellent credit depends on a number of different factors, such as your payment history, your debt-to-income ratio, and your overall financial health.

How Long Does It Take To Build Credit?

Building credit is a long process. Seeing the benefits of having good or excellent credit can take anywhere from six months to even a year.

However, you may be able to start generating your first credit score within that time frame.

Can 16-Year-Olds Get Credit Cards

It takes some time for creditors and lenders to review your history, behavior, and payment records – all of which are used by the three major consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) when calculating your scores.

Final Thoughts

A credit card can be the perfect tool for financial independence.

It is never too early to start building your credit history. If you are 16 years old, you can be added as an authorized user on your parent’s or guardian’s credit card.

This is a great way to start young and establish yourself as someone who uses credit responsibly, making it easier to get approved for other loans in the future.


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Jessica is a published author and copywriter specializing in personal and investment finance. Her expertise is in financial product reviews and stock market education.