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

You have to be at least 18 to get a credit card. That’s typically the age you’re allowed to enter into legal contracts like credit card agreements. 

But the full answer isn’t quite as simple as that. Read on to learn more about credit card age requirements. 

Key takeaways

  • You have to be at least 18 to open a credit card account. 
  • A potential way to access credit if you’re under 18 is to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account.
  • If you’re under 21, you have to prove your income and show the ability to make monthly payments when applying for a credit card.
  • Another alternative is to enlist a co-signer who’s over 21 and can prove their ability to make payments. But not all card issuers allow co-signers.

See if you’re pre-approved

Check for pre-approval offers with no risk to your credit score.

Get started

At what age can you get a credit card?

It’s possible to apply for a credit card once you’re 18. But according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), if you’re under 21, you’ll have to have a co-signer who is over 21 or prove that you have enough independent income to make your minimum credit card payments.

Use a co-signer

A co-signer vouches for someone who’s applying for their own credit card. The co-signer guarantees that if the cardholder can’t make payments, they will. Co-signers have to be at least 21 and show they can make payments on the account. Keep in mind that many major issuers don’t allow co-signers.

Prove your income

Independent income might include things like full-time, part-time or seasonal job income as well as self-employment income. It might also include interest, dividends, public assistance or even shared income that somebody else regularly deposits into your account or a joint account.

How to get a credit card before 18

Kids younger than 18 can’t open their own credit card. But they may be able to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account. 

An authorized user is someone a cardholder has permitted to use their account. They’re allowed to make charges on the card and may even get their own card connected to the account. 

It’s still the primary cardholder’s job to make the monthly payments. If the card issuer reports the information to the credit bureaus and both card users use the card responsibly, the authorized user and account holder may see positive effects on their credit. If either user doesn’t use the account responsibly, it can hurt both their credit.

Each credit card issuer has its own requirements for authorized users. And credit card issuers aren’t required to report authorized users’ activity to credit bureaus. If the information doesn’t appear in a credit report, it might not affect the authorized user’s credit at all.

Credit card options for 18- to 20-year-olds

For 18- to 20-year-olds who can prove their income and think they’re ready for a credit card, here are a couple of options.

Student credit cards

Student credit cards are often tailored to college students. They may be easier to qualify for than many other credit cards and often offer benefits. Used responsibly, student credit cards can help build credit history and encourage financial independence. Some student cards let cardholders earn rewards.

Secured credit cards

To open a secured card account, you have to put down a one-time security deposit. The deposit is often refundable. Each credit card issuer has its own policies about when and how refunds are given. There are even secured credit cards, like QuickSilver Secured from Capital One, that let you earn cash back rewards.

Credit card options for people ages 21 and up

There are many types of credit cards out there. The key is to choose the best one for you. Capital One has a useful credit card comparison tool that can help you search by credit requirements, rewards and other factors.

What to do before you apply for your first credit card

So now you know your options for getting a credit card. Here are a few things to consider doing before you apply.

1. Check your credit scores and credit reports

It’s helpful to understand your credit scores and credit reports

Credit scores reflect your creditworthiness and are used to predict how likely you are to pay your debts on time. They’re based, in part, on information found in credit reports. 

You can use credit scores to understand which cards you might qualify for. Some credit cards are designed for people with fair credit scores or even no credit scores. Others may require applicants to have good credit scores or even excellent scores.

You can get free copies of your credit reports from And with CreditWise from Capital One, you can access your TransUnion® credit report and VantageScore® 3.0 credit score without hurting your scores. CreditWise is free for everyone. You don’t even have to be a Capital One customer to use it.

2. Find out whether you’re pre-approved

Checking to see if you’re pre-approved for a credit card can be a great way to compare your options and find the right fit before applying. It can also help avoid unnecessary hard inquiries, which can cause your credit scores to drop temporarily. 

You can find out whether you’re pre-approved for some Capital One credit cards before you submit an application. It’s quick and only requires some basic info. And it won’t affect your credit scores, because it only requires a soft inquiry.

Age to get a credit card in a nutshell

You might be able to open a credit card on your own at age 18. Many teens start with a credit-building card like a student credit card or a secured credit card. Even if you don’t meet the requirements, you might be able to access and build credit by becoming an authorized user on someone else’s account or having a co-signer on a card. 

Think you’re ready for your first card? Find out online if you’re pre-approved for a Capital One credit card today.

Related Content

Money Management

How to get a credit card

Money Management

How to establish credit