Credit Card FAQ

How to Get a Credit Card When Under 18?

5 April 2011 by CreditCardsCo™

Getting a credit card is a serious responsibility, one that requires inculcating good spending habits and developing good credit habits. Getting a credit card when you are under 18 is difficult but it can be done. As 18 is the legal age when a minor turns into an adult, only then is one able to sign a contract and is therefore liable to face the consequences if the terms are not met.

As a minor under 18 years of age, no credit card company can sign a contract with you, which restricts your access to credit. There is a reason for this — first, credit card companies cannot take you to court if you are under the legal age. Second, credit card companies offer credit to people who have a regular income and stay motivated to keep that income. Minors may not have a steady job.

Credit Basics

Everybody needs credit to function in today's society. Very few people have the money to buy a car or a house with their savings. Most people use credit to purchase these things and pay them off over time. A credit card is the way to start building credit. It allows people with little or no credit history to build credit over time.

If credit is used responsibly it leads to the person getting better credit terms — on loans, car loans, mortgages, and insurance premiums. Which is why building credit history from an early age is important. Getting a credit card when you are under 18 can be accomplished in a couple of ways — without actually signing a credit card agreement or a contract with the credit card company.

Start Building Credit History With A Credit Card

To get a new credit card when you are under 18 will require your parent's consent. This is the law. This law was passed to accomplish two things — first, the parents are held responsible for the child's debts and second, the parents know and understand that the child now has a credit card and that he or she will be responsible for it.

The easiest way for you to get a credit card is to become an authorized user on your parent's credit card. This means that your credit card will be on your parents account and that your spending and payment history will be reported separately. This gives you the advantage of building a credit score while ensuring that you can manage credit responsibly.

Another way to get a credit card when you are under 18 is to have your parents co-sign on your credit application. This means you will have a separate credit account from your parents but your parents will be responsible for your debts if you are not able to repay them. It is also important to note that your card history will be reported on your parent's credit report and will affect their credit ratings.

The Smarter Way

Secured credit cards are a good way to get started on credit if you are under 18. Most banks allow you to have a secured credit card. The deposit that you pay initially will be the credit limit on the card. All transactions are reported to the credit bureaus which makes getting a secured credit card an attractive proposition.

As a minor it may not be an ideal situation for you to get a credit card, but with you parents consent or with a secured card, there is a good chance that you will be able to build up a credit history. The idea being that making payments on time will help you keep a good credit score until you are ready to get a credit card on your own.

Build that credit score will help you get better student loans, better terms on your next credit card and also when you are ready to buy a car or own a house. While getting a credit card when you are under 18 can be difficult, it is an opportunity to establish your credit.

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