How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Credit Card?

Age Requirements for Getting a Credit Card

In the United States, the age requirement for obtaining a credit card is 18 years old. This is because the Credit CARD Act of 2009 made it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to get a credit card without a cosigner or proof of independent income.

However, some credit card issuers may offer options for teenagers and young adults to build credit, such as secured credit cards or student credit cards. Secured credit cards require a cash deposit as collateral and may have lower credit limits, while student credit cards are designed for college students with little to no credit history.

It’s important to note that getting a credit card at a young age can be both beneficial and risky. While it can help establish a credit history and improve credit scores over time, it can also lead to overspending and high-interest debt if not used responsibly. Therefore, it’s crucial to educate oneself on responsible credit card use and to carefully consider the decision to get a credit card at a young age.

Understanding the Legalities of Obtaining a Credit Card

Obtaining a credit card involves legal agreements between the cardholder and the issuer. It’s important to understand the legalities involved before applying for a credit card.

The most significant law governing credit cards is the Credit CARD Act of 2009. This law introduced a variety of protections for consumers, such as restrictions on interest rate increases and requirements for clearer billing statements.

Another law that affects credit cards is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which regulates how credit reporting agencies collect and use consumer credit information. This law ensures that consumers have access to their credit reports and can dispute any errors or inaccuracies.

Additionally, state and federal laws dictate how credit card issuers can market and advertise their products. For example, the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) requires issuers to disclose certain terms and conditions of credit card agreements to consumers.

Overall, understanding the legalities of obtaining and using a credit card is important for protecting oneself from potential fraud or unfair practices and ensuring responsible credit use.

Options for Young People to Build Credit

Young people who are not yet eligible for a traditional credit card or do not have a credit history can still start building credit through alternative means. Here are some options:

  1. Become an authorized user: Parents or guardians can add their child as an authorized user on their credit card account. This allows the child to use the card and build credit under the parent’s account.

  2. Apply for a secured credit card: Secured credit cards require a cash deposit as collateral, which makes them less risky for issuers and easier to obtain for those with limited or no credit history.

  3. Apply for a student credit card: Many credit card issuers offer credit cards specifically designed for students with limited credit history. These cards may have lower credit limits and higher interest rates, but they can be a good option for building credit.

  4. Take out a small loan: Taking out a small personal loan and repaying it on time can help build credit history.

It’s important to use any of these options responsibly and pay bills on time to build a positive credit history.

Pros and Cons of Getting a Credit Card at a Young Age

Getting a credit card at a young age can have both advantages and disadvantages. Here are some pros and cons to consider:


  1. Building credit: Using a credit card responsibly and paying bills on time can help establish a positive credit history, which is important for future borrowing needs such as a mortgage or car loan.

  2. Financial independence: Having a credit card can provide young people with a sense of financial independence and responsibility.

  3. Emergency funds: A credit card can serve as an emergency source of funds in case of unexpected expenses or emergencies.


  1. High-interest debt: If not used responsibly, a credit card can lead to high-interest debt and financial trouble.

  2. Overspending: Having a credit card can make it tempting to overspend and live beyond one’s means.

  3. Risk of fraud: Credit card fraud is a risk, especially for those who are new to credit and may not be aware of potential scams or fraudulent activity.

Overall, it’s important for young people to carefully consider the pros and cons of getting a credit card and to use it responsibly if they decide to apply for one.

Tips for Using Your First Credit Card Responsibly

Using a credit card responsibly is key to building good credit and avoiding financial trouble. Here are some tips for using your first credit card:

  1. Create a budget: Determine how much money you have available to spend and make a budget for your credit card expenses.

  2. Pay bills on time: Paying credit card bills on time is crucial for avoiding late fees and building good credit history.

  3. Keep balances low: High credit card balances can hurt your credit score and lead to high-interest debt. Aim to keep balances at or below 30% of your credit limit.

  4. Monitor your credit: Regularly check your credit reports to ensure accuracy and monitor for potential fraud.

  5. Avoid cash advances: Cash advances from a credit card often come with high fees and interest rates, making them an expensive option for borrowing money.

  6. Understand rewards programs: Many credit cards offer rewards programs for using the card, such as cash back or points. Understand the rewards program and use it to your advantage, but avoid overspending just to earn rewards.

By following these tips, young people can use their first credit card responsibly and establish a positive credit history for the future.

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