You don’t have to wait until you’re a legal adult to build your credit. In fact, your teenage years are actually a great time to start learning about real-world money concepts — and to open your first credit card.
If you are 18 years or older, you can apply for a credit card under your own name. If you’re younger, your parents can add you as an authorized user on their cards.
Below, you’ll find our top six credit cards for teens, based on easy approval requirements, credit-building tools, and valuable rewards.
Best credit cards for teens overview
- Best for cash back on everyday purchases: Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Best for rotating cash back categories: Discover it® Cash Back
- Best for credit newbies: Citi® Secured Mastercard®
- Best starter travel card: Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
- Best for beginners to credit card points: Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
- Best for earning travel rewards points: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
With the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you earn 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% back on all other eligible purchases.
Rewards come in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, which you can then transform into statement credits, direct deposits, gift cards, travel, and more.
Cardholders will also have access to Chase Credit Journey, which displays your weekly credit score for free and offers unique insights and resources to monitor your credit health — a nice perk for teenagers who are just starting to build their credit history.
There’s also no additional cost for adding an authorized user, making this cash back card a friendly choice for teens and parents alike.
Discover it® Cash Back
The Discover it® Cash Back offers a dollar-for-dollar match on all the cash back rewards you earn at the end of your first year of account opening.
This cash back card offers 5% back on rotating quarterly categories that you activate, up to the first $1,500 spent. These categories include popular spending areas like gas stations, groceries, and more. After this $1,500 limit (or on any other eligible purchase), cardholders will earn 1% back.
There’s no annual fee or authorized user fee with the Discover it® Cash Back. However, Discover requires authorized users to be at least 15 years old, so young teens may not qualify just yet.
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Teens without proof of income may have better luck opening a secured credit card like the Citi® Secured Mastercard®. In order to open your account, you must put down a security deposit between $200 and $2,500. It’s fully refundable, and it’ll determine how much total credit line is available to you.
While the Citi® Secured Mastercard® does not offer rewards, it’s a great way for teens to practice managing a credit card. Once you build up sufficient credit history, you can then apply for other credit cards — including ones that offer cash back or travel rewards.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
If you’re a teenager looking to jump into the world of travel rewards, look no further than the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.
The card has a litany of benefits including a 20,000 mile one-time bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months, a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (after which the standard rate of 17.99% – 27.99% Variable applies). A balance transfer fee of 3% applies to amounts transferred within the first 15 months.
There’s no annual fee (or authorized user fee) to worry about, and you’ll earn an unlimited 1.25x miles, no matter the purchase. You can also use the Capital One travel portal to book hotels and cars to earn 5x miles.
All the miles accrued can erase any travel purchases charged to your card in the form of a statement credit. Plus, if you find yourself traveling internationally, you’ll want a card like the Capital One VentureOne that waives foreign transaction fees.
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card is the issuer’s entry-level card with no annual fee or authorized user fee. You’ll earn valuable Membership Rewards points, which you can then use toward charges on your card, for travel, and more.
Cardholders will earn 2x points on groceries (up to $6,000 per year, then 1x points), and 1x points on all other eligible purchases. What’s especially unique about the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card is that you can earn 20% extra points if you pay with your card 20 or more times in a billing period.
New applicants can earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your new card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first six months of card membership. Additionally, there’s a 0% intro APR offer on purchases for 15 months from the date of account opening, then a variable APR of 14.49% to 25.49%.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Without a source of income or prior credit history, most teenagers likely won’t qualify for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card on their own. However, adding an authorized user costs no additional fee.
While the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card charges a $95 annual fee, it consistently makes our top charts for the best travel rewards cards. That’s because it earns tons of points from travel to everyday purchases: 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x points on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services, 2x points on other travel purchases, and 1x points on all other purchases.
What to know about getting a credit card as a teenager
Teens must be at least 18 years of age to apply for a credit card without parental approval. However, the U.S. CARD Act enacted in 2009 created protections for young cardholders.
Under this law, although you can apply for your own credit card at 18, applicants under 21 will find it harder to get approved for a credit card without a source of income or assets. Otherwise, most teens will likely need a cosigner to apply for their own credit card.
Given these two caveats, the credit card options available for teens are much slimmer than for adults. Still, this doesn’t prevent you from opening a credit card completely.
Young teenagers can be authorized users
Younger teens (13 to 17 years old) cannot apply for a credit card on their own. Instead, parents or guardians must add their teens as authorized users to their own credit cards.
Authorized users get their very own credit card — even with their own name on it. However, their card is still tied to the primary cardholder’s account. That means when a parent adds their teen to an account, they’re on the hook for all payments charged — keep that in mind every time you swipe!
Being an authorized user is beneficial because you can start establishing your credit portfolio at a young age. By the time you become a legal adult, you’ll have years of credit under your belt.
Read more: Pros and cons of authorized cardholders
Age restrictions vary by issuer
Fortunately, adding authorized users won’t cost you anything extra for most credit cards. The exception to this rule is select premium cards — such as The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® — both of which charge an additional fee for adding authorized users. In exchange, these authorized users benefit from some great travel benefits, such as airport lounge access and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application credit.
Regardless of the card, it’s important to review bank age restrictions for authorized users. Many of the major card issuers (Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo) do not have age minimums for authorized users. In theory, an infant could be added as an authorized user.
With American Express and Barclays, both issuers require authorized users to be at least 13 years of age. Discover requires authorized users to be at least 15 years old.
Student cards are ideal for college kids
Student cards cater specifically to college students. This can be a great option for teens who are 18 or 19 years old, are in a two- or four-year institution, and want to apply for their own credit card.
Read more: Best credit cards for college students
The best credit card for you will depend on your age and income, among other factors. But getting one as a teenager will shave years off your credit-building time, meaning you’ll qualify for things like low-interest loans and premium credit cards much sooner than your non-credit-building peers.
In most cases, becoming an authorized user is the best way to get a credit card at a young age. You’ll just want to check the age requirements (if any) with the bank.