There is far too little education about finances in schools, so teaching children how to be responsible with money is up to parents. Giving them access to one of the best credit cards for kids can allow them to learn with your guidance!
The days of credit card companies marketing to freshmen on college campuses are over. In fact, there have been fewer college students with credit cards since the CARD Act. An 18-year-old with their first credit card can be a dangerous thing. The financial freedom of a credit card in the hands of an untaught, irresponsible college student is a recipe for disaster.
Teaching kids how to use a credit card early in life, with the help of a parent, can save them from financial ruin later on down the track. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about credit cards for kids.
Is There a Credit Card for Kids?
To get a credit card, you must be a legal adult (18+), however, this can seem like a late start to getting money-wise and learning how credit cards work. Instead, being an authorized user of an adult’s credit card could be a first step for your children on their road to financial independence.
Start ‘em young- so that by the time they come of age, they know what they’re doing! There’s no better way to learn good spending habits than with the best credit cards for kids that we’ve listed below.
What’s the Minimum Age for an Authorized User?
The minimum age for an authorized user varies from bank to bank.
Some restrict it to those 18 and over, while others have no limit. A common starting age is 13 years old- but remember, your current bank may not allow a minor to be an authorized user.
Best Credit Cards for Kids
Here are the best all-around credit cards where kids can be added as authorized users:
- Citi Custom Cash℠ Card: $200 bonus
- Hilton Honors American Express Card: 100,000 bonus points
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: 60,000 bonus points
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®: $200 bonus
- American Express® Gold Card: 60,000 bonus points
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: $200 bonus
- Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer: up to 2% Cash Back
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: 75,000 bonus miles
- Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: $200 bonus
1. Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Citi is offering new Custom Cash℠ Card cardmembers a welcome bonus of $200 when spending $1,500 in the first six months of ownership.
This is in addition to the 5% cash back each month on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, 1% thereafter).
The Citi Custom Cash Card is a great addition to your wallet if you’re looking for a set it and forget it cashback card with some variety. Rather than the standard cashback tiers of other cards, it gives you 5% rewards on your top spending category each statement up to a spending limit.
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card - $200 bonus
The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offer requires you to make purchases using the account's card in order to earn the $200 bonus. Full requirements to receive this bonus are:
- Apply for a new Citi Custom Cash℠ Card using the link below.
- Within 6 months, spend $1,500 using your new card.
- Bonus will be credited as $200 cash back.
Learn more about the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card $200 bonus offer
2. Hilton Honors American Express Card
The Hilton Honors American Express Card comes with a new cardmember offer that can see you earn 100,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first six months.
This is in addition to the $0 annual fee, the solid reward categories, and the card's other perks. This is solid deal on this card compared to recent offers. *terms apply.
If you’re looking for Hilton benefits without shelling out money for an annual fee, the Hilton Honors American Express Card delivers. While the card doesn’t offer all the perks of higher tier travel cards, it provides cardholders with automatic Silver Status.
Hilton Honors American Express Card - 100,000 bonus points
The Hilton Honors American Express Card offer requires you to make purchases using the account's card in order to earn the 100,000 bonus points. Full requirements to receive this bonus are:
- Apply for a new Hilton Honors American Express Card using the link below.
- Within 6 months, spend $2,000 using your new card.
- Bonus will be credited within 8-12 weeks of meeting the requirements in the form of Hilton Honors points.
Learn more about the Hilton Honors American Express Card 100,000 bonus points offer
3. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase is offering 60,000 bonus points to new Chase Sapphire Preferred® cardholders. This is down, unfortunately, from the 80,000 points reward they were offering just recently.
Those points can be redeemed for $600 cash, or they can be stretched to $750 if put towards travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
This is in addition to the revamped points structure that now offers higher rewards in several categories and the new $50 annual hotel statement credit.
In the world of travel cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is hard to beat. Its low annual fee, perks, and travel rewards make it a perfect fit for travelers looking to rack up rewards for their next trip or for seasoned pros looking to combine forces with multiple Chase cards.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - 60,000 bonus points
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offer requires you to make purchases using the account's card in order to earn the 60,000 bonus points. Full requirements to receive this bonus are:
- Apply for a new Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card using the link below.
- Within 3 months, spend $4,000 using your new card.
- Bonus will be credited within 6 to 8 weeks in the form of 60,000 points, which can be redeemed for $600 cash or $750 in travel rewards.
Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 60,000 bonus points offer
4. Chase Freedom Unlimited®
In addition to the other card perks like cash back and no annual fee, Chase is offering a $200 bonus to new Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders.
Plus, Chase recently updated this offer to also include 5% cash back on the first $12,000 spent at grocery stores within the first year. If you max that benefit, you could see an extra $600 in your pocket, in addition to the $200 welcome offer.
Tip: Want to earn even more? You can earn an additional $500 cash back each year by referring friends, with each successful referral earning you $100.
If you’re looking for a card that works for you on all fronts, check out Chase Freedom Unlimited. With enticing offers for new cardholders, top-notch rewards, and flexible redemption options, it brings more to the table than a lot of no-annual-fee cards.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® - $200 bonus
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offer requires you to make purchases using the account's card in order to earn the $200 bonus. Full requirements to receive this bonus are:
- Apply for a new Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card using the link below.
- Within 3 months, spend $500 using your new card.
- $200 Bonus will be credited within 6 to 8 weeks.
Learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited® $200 bonus offer
5. American Express® Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card comes with a new cardmember offer that can see you earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $4,000 within the first six months on eligible purchases.
You also get $10 in Uber Cash each month, and up to $120 in annual statement credits at participating restaurants, enrollment required. (*terms apply)
The American Express Gold Card is a solid choice for foodies and travelers, offering competitive rewards on restaurant and supermarket buys. The annual fee is well worth it for diners who spend a lot on takeout, restaurants, and groceries; just note the rewards can get a bit complicated.
American Express® Gold Card - 60,000 bonus points
The American Express® Gold Card offer requires you to make purchases using the account's card in order to earn the 60,000 bonus points. Full requirements to receive this bonus are:
- Apply for a new American Express® Gold Card using the link below.
- Within 6 months, spend $4,000 using your new card.
- Bonus will be credited within 8-12 weeks of meeting the requirements in the form of Membership Rewards® Points.
Learn more about the American Express® Gold Card 60,000 bonus points offer
6. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Blue Cash Everyday® Card is another personal credit card from American Express, offering new members the ability to earn a $200 welcome offer.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a rewards credit card that offers 3% back on groceries at U.S. supermarkets (on first $6,000 per year, then 1%), 3% at U.S. gas stations (on first $6,000 per year, then 1%), 3% cash back on U.S. online retail purchases (on first $6,000 per year, then 1%), and 1% on every other eligible purchase. Terms Apply.
Your cash back is credited as Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
If you don’t want to deal with a steep annual fee, the American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card is an excellent starter card for rewards on groceries, gas, and retail purchases.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express - $200 bonus
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offer requires you to make purchases using the account's card in order to earn the $200 bonus. Full requirements to receive this bonus are:
- Apply for a new Blue Cash Everyday® Card using the link below.
- Within the first 6 months, spend $2,000 using your new card to earn $200 as a statement credit.
- Bonuses will be credited within 8-12 weeks of meeting the requirements.
Learn more about the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express $200 bonus offer
7. Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
You'll earn up to 2% cash back each month on purchases (1% when you buy + 1% when you pay).
The Citi® Double Cash Card is hard to beat when it comes to straightforward rewards with no annual fee. You get a flat rate of 2% rewards—1% when you buy and another 1% when you pay it back—an incentive to build up your credit score by making payments on time.
Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer - up to 2% Cash Back
The Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer offer requires you to make purchases using the account's card in order to earn the 2% Cash Back. Full requirements to receive this bonus are:
- Apply for a new Citi® Double Cash Card using the link below.
- Spend with your new card, earn 1% cash back.
- By the due date, pay at least the minimum balance due, earn an additional 1% cash back.
Learn more about the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer 2% Cash Back offer
8. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card comes with a 75,000 mile welcome bonus. All you need to do to qualify is make $4,000 worth of purchases within three months of opening the account.
The card has small annual fee; however, on par compared to other similar premium cards. Cardholders also enjoy many perks such as up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®, no foreign transaction fees and travel accident insurance.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Card is an advantageous travel rewards card if you’re looking for straightforward flat-rate miles on all purchases, rather than just travel or other bonus categories. It also offers the option to earn higher rewards when you book trips through Capital One Travel and provides some rewarding travel benefits.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card - 75,000 bonus miles
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offer requires you to make purchases using the account's card in order to earn the 75,000 bonus miles. Full requirements to receive this bonus are:
- Apply for a new Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card using the link below.
- Within 3 months, spend $4,000 using your new card.
- Bonus will be credited to your rewards balance within 2 billing cycles.
Learn more about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card 75,000 bonus miles offer
9. Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card comes with a $200 welcome bonus. All you need to do to qualify is make $500 worth of purchases within three months of opening the account.
The card has no annual fee, and cardholders also enjoy experiences such as VIP tickets and 5-star meals, among other perks.
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is a straightforward option, with a decent flat interest rate across all spending categories. While some cards offer more cash back and perks, it's a good choice if you don’t want to worry about tracking your spending in bonus categories.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card - $200 bonus
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card offer requires you to make purchases using the account's card in order to earn the $200 bonus. Full requirements to receive this bonus are:
- Apply for a new Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card using the link below.
- Within 3 months, spend $500 using your new card.
- Bonus will be credited to your rewards balance within 2 billing cycles.
Learn more about the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card $200 bonus offer
How To Open a Credit Card for Your Kids
If you want to give your child access to credit by making them an authorized user on your card, you may choose to add your child to one of your existing cards- or even to open a new card solely for this purpose.
If you are looking to open a new card, there are a few things to consider:
1. Credit Score
The number one factor that determines how much credit you can access is your current credit rating.
The higher your credit score, the more options you will have. This means you (and your child) will have access to the best available credit card offers, with lower interest percentages and more benefits.
Opening a new card may be harder with a low score; you will have to be less selective.
In this scenario, you should also carefully consider if starting a new card is the best option for you. It could be a good idea to build your credit up first!
2. Features Desired
Any card can teach your child good (or bad) financial habits. That all comes down to fiscal responsibility: Paying off the card every month, on time.
Beyond the ability to buy things on credit, additional card features are an added bonus. Some will be more appealing to different users. Consider what is most important to you, especially if you have plenty of options.
- Age restrictions: You will need a card from a bank that allows authorized users under the age of 18. This will either be a card with no minimum age requirement, or an age requirement lower than your child’s age.
- Low limit: A card with a low limit could be a good option. The credit card should not have a limit higher than you are willing to cover. However, you could consider what amount they may need in an emergency situation and allow for that at least.
- Annual fees: Having no annual fee is a good option for any card, but specifically one for a child. The spending on the card will likely be low, so paying this extra fee may not be worth it.
- Sign-up Deals: Sign-up bonuses may seem like a good thing, but keep in mind that deals like this encourage extra spending in the sign-up period- is this a good example to set for your child?
- Rewards and bonuses: Rewards may not be a significant consideration because the child’s spending should be minimal. They may foster bad habits- children are particularly susceptible to earning points (read: spending money) without thinking!
- 0% intro APR: Many cards currently have 0% intro APR offers to get new customers to sign up. Again, this may encourage extra spending in the first six months to two years. However, lessons can be learned here: this feature is worth considering if you plan to allow your child to make a large purchase with a credit card, and teach them to pay it off within a set period.
- Low-interest rates: Looking for the lowest interest rates can be important for any adult getting a credit card. However, it is a good idea to teach your child the importance of paying the credit card in full every month and discourage any interest from even accruing.
3: Compare Kids’ Credit Cards
Find credit cards that have appropriate age minimums for an authorized user, and compare the features side by side.
It can be a good learning experience to do this with your child! It will help them understand the components of credit cards, kickstart their learning, and make them feel involved in the process from the start.
4: Application Process
You will need to apply for the card in your name and then add the child as an authorized user. You can typically fill in the application form online through the bank or credit card company’s website.
Pros and Cons of Credit Cards for Kids
Giving a child a credit card can be a good learning opportunity, but it comes with plenty of risks. It’s important to weigh these benefits and risks against each other. Even with the best credit cards for kids, there are risks to watch out for.
- Building credit early in life
- Learning responsibility
- Learning about money management
- Feeling empowered
- Having access to money in case of emergencies
- Risk of child spending irresponsibly
- Risk to your credit score
- Risk to their starting credit score
Is Your Child Ready for a Credit Card?
Below are situations where a child might be ready for a credit card:
- They are generally responsible and follow the rules you set
- They are not impulsive spenders; they save their pocket money
- Your child earns their own money and are accountable for it
- They have used a debit card responsibly and managed their own banking before
- If they have started driving and may need access to money for emergency car repairs or gas so they don’t become stranded
- As a parent, you are confident you can enforce boundaries and get them to take responsibility for any mistakes they make
- The family is in a stable financial situation
- The parents have good credit scores
Here are some red flags that signal you or your child may not be ready:
- It will significantly impact your credit if they miss payments
- They have been going through a rebellious phase
- Do they have an attachment to any online games that offer in-app purchases or microtransactions? If they spend lots of time on games like these, the temptation of getting ahead may be too much once they have access to their own credit
- If your teenage child has a costly hobby or is too interested in things like name brands, finally being able to ‘afford’ these things may be too much temptation
- They spend allowances or gift money irresponsibly
- They have friends with access to a lot of money and may want to ‘keep up’ with them
Alternatives to Credit Cards For Kids
Debit Cards for Kids
Debit cards for kids are a great solution to providing access to money without running the risk of them spending what they don’t have. Children can get a debit card in their own name from the age of 13, but up until age 16, most banks require parental approval.
A debit card is a no-brainer if a child has a job and bank account. While they won’t build credit, it is a good starting point for when they turn 18 or older and are able to open their first credit account.
Parents can set controls on the card for their teen. This includes things like spending notifications, blocking merchants, and ATM limits. Mobile apps will allow parents to set these spending controls, even as far as only allowing spending in specific locations or locking the card.
A debit card can be a great learning tool. With a debit card, they can only spend as much as they have. From having used a debit card for years, they’ll learn to know what is in their bank account before making a purchase. This is a skill that can be carried over from debit to credit card- your child will already have the restraint and responsibility necessary to be trusted with credit!
Prepaid Card for Kids
Prepaid cards for kids allow the parent or child to load a set amount of money onto the card. This can be an allowance, a gift, or an emergency card.
This is an option when the child doesn’t have a bank account or is relatively young. They can be given a prepaid card at any age.
There is always a risk of them losing it, but if you keep the amount low, it can be an excellent way to learn responsibility without too much risk.
Opening a Joint Account
Sharing a joint bank account with your child gives them some responsibility, while still giving the parent some access and control.
Both parties can view activities, add money, and take out money. The parent may choose to put a weekly amount into the account every week instead of handing their kid cash.
It is also a way to see if they are naturally savers or spenders. Some children will like to watch the account grow, while others will save for a large item. Some will spend whatever they have!
How they use the money in this account can help you determine if they are ready for a credit card.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Old Do You Need To Be To Have a Credit Card in Your Name?
You need to be 18 years old to open a credit card in your name. Even then, there are additional requirements for 18-20 year olds.
Can A Child Open a Credit Card?
No, children are not allowed to open a credit card. They can only be added to an adult’s card as an authorized user.
How Can I Build My Child’s Credit?
The only way to build a child’s credit is to have them as an authorized user on a credit card. However, the parent should monitor this closely so that important payments are not missed.
How Young Is Too Young For a Kid To Have a Credit Card?
Some banks have no minimum age for authorized users. It is up to the parent to decide if their child is responsible enough to have access to credit.
Going by age is impossible! There may be 12 year olds more prepared to own a credit card than many 19 year olds.
Responsible teens that earn an income, are well-educated in finances, and are independent may be good candidates.
Can I Put My 12-Year-Old on My Credit Card?
Some cards have no minimum age requirement. Even though a 12 year old may seem safe to have a credit card as they are unlikely to go to stores without their parents, consider how easy it is nowadays to make purchases online.
Children are very adept at using the internet, and may find a way even with parental controls
Also, consider what games they play. Games with in-app purchases appeal to children of this age, and it can be very tempting for them to spend considerable amounts of money in a short time.
Can I Get My 13-Year-Old a Credit Card?
They can not get their own, but they can be added to cards with no age minimum (or several available cards that have an age minimum of 13).
Consider if your 13 year old is old enough to understand the responsibilities of a credit card. Giving them a prepaid card or even a debit card first may be a good test of their responsibility.
However, if you feel they’re ready, get them one of the best credit cards for kids listed above so that they can start building their credit today!