What’s the Minimum Age for a Credit Card for a Child?

Credit Card Minimum Age for Kid

 

What's the Minimum Age for a Child to Get a Credit Card? The CARD Act of 2009 changed the minimum age to have one's own credit card to 21, except in the case of a co-signer or demonstrated income ability to pay back debt.

That said, many kids are able to have authorized user cards on the existing credit card accounts of a parent or guardian, and this can be a great way to help young adults build a strong credit score and qualify for better rewards credit cards at a younger age.

Note that issuers vary when it comes to the minimum age at which they permit you to add your child as an authorized user. Chase and Citi don't have a minimum age, and you don't have to provide a social security number to add kids as authorized users, but AMEX and Barclaycard require kids to be at least 13 years of age to add them, although Barclaycards doesn't require a social security number for adding a family member as an authorized user. Bank of America formally requires authorized users to be at least 18 years old, although I've heard of some managing to add younger kids, so it may not be strictly enforced.

Since a key aspect of adding kids as an authorized user is to build their average age of accounts, it's good to know that most major issuers do backdate authorized users to the opening date of the original credit card account; AMEX, however, does not.

Credit Card Issuer

Minimum Age

SSN Required?

Backdate AUs?

AMEX

13

Yes

No

Bank of America

18

Yes

Yes

Barclaycard

13

For non-family members

Yes

Chase

No minimum

No

Yes

Citi

No minimum

No

Yes

 

Your Credit Worthiness Will Affect Your Child

While your child can be advantaged by your own stellar credit history, by the same token, if you run into financial difficulties and start missing credit card payments or racking up late fees, this can negatively impact your child's nascent credit history. So only add your child as an authorized user if you have and continue to have a strong credit score and history. If you start to run into credit card or other loan difficulties, be sure to remove your child(ren) as authorized users right away, to avoid their credit history also taking a hit.

 

Best Credit Cards to Add a Child as an Authorized User

If you do decide that adding a child as an authorized user to one or more of your credit cards makes sense, you'll want to consider a few factors:

  • Is there a cost to add an authorized user?
  • Will the underlying account remain open for the foreseeable future? Part of the point of building a child's credit history is building the average age of accounts, so you don't want to add a child to an account that you may very well close in a year or two. For that reason you may want to consider having the underlying account be one that is either for a no annual fee card or a card that you foresee keeping open a long time, even if it has an annual fee.
  • To the extent the child will actually be spending on his/her authorized user card, will the child's typical spend categories earn category spend bonuses?

In my view, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, that is the best card to add a child as an authorized user to, if the child is old enough that the child will actually be using it for spending and travel benefits. The cost is $75 per year for an authorized user, but your authorized user also earns 3X on all travel and dining (which could be significant for an older teen or college student), enjoys the same travel insurance protections, and also gets Priority Pass membership.

If you're signing up a younger child who won't actually be using the card much if at all, a no annual fee card such as a Chase Freedom Unlimited probably makes more sense, as it's free and the underlying no annual fee card is one that you can keep forever.

Something to consider with AMEX is that not only are there steeper fees for the underlying AMEX Platinum card, which charges $175 to add up to 3 authorized users; AMEX isn't accepted at as many places as Visa, especially internationally.

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