Obtaining a credit card is an important financial milestone in your child’s life. It teaches them to make wise spending decisions and focus on long-term aspects of money management, such as credit building.
There are several ways to help your child get a credit card, and the first step is to ensure they pick the right one. If you’re not sure where to start your search for the best credit card for kids, this article will give you a few suggestions worth considering. You’ll see some popular options for children of different ages so that you can choose the most suitable one.
Before focusing on such details, though, it’s important to clarify the age requirements for credit cards to help you understand the options available to your child.
Is Your Child Eligible for a Credit Card?
Even after your child becomes an adult, they might have to wait for another few years to obtain a traditional credit card. This is because the CARD Act of 2009 prohibits banks from issuing them to anyone under 21 unless they meet one of the two conditions:
- Showing an independent ability to repay the debt
- Having a co-signer over 21 who can be legally accountable for the account
Many banks don’t offer co-signed credit cards, so if your child doesn’t have a stable income, their options are quite limited. An alternative some parents choose is adding children as authorized users of their cards, which can be done for a minor as well.
With all of the above in mind, this guide will cover two categories of credit cards:
- Cards suitable for qualifying young adults
- Best options for authorized users
Best Credit Card for Young Kids Fresh Out of College
Source: Rann Vijay
By the time your child graduates college, they’ll have met the age requirements for a standard credit card. There are various options tailored specifically to young adults, which have more lenient eligibility criteria and certain benefits your child might want to take advantage of.
When choosing a credit card for your child, focus on the following factors:
- Annual fee—Many credit cards for young adults don’t have annual fees, so avoid options that do
- Annual percentage rate (APR)—The APR of cards geared toward teens and young adults is typically quite high—up to around 30%. You can still find options with a lower rate to make your child’s repayments easier
- Welcome offers—Most cards have sign-up offers your child can unlock after completing certain activities, like spending a specific amount of money
- Rewards—Cashback, airline miles, and numerous other perks can incentivize your child to use the card, but it’s important they do so responsibly
The following table shows some of the best credit cards for young adults based on the above features. The selected options don’t have annual fees, and other features are as follows:
|Chase Freedom Flex℠||19.74%–28.49% variable||$200 after spending $500 within the first three months||1%–5% cash back|
|Discover it® Secured Credit Card||27.74% variable||Cashback match—the bank matches all the cash back earned within the first year||1%–2% cash back|
|Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card||17.74%–27.74% variable||$200 cash reward after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days||1%–3% cash back|
Rates and rewards as of August 1, 2023
Best Authorized User Credit Card for Kids
Source: Van Tay Media
Not all banks allow authorized credit card users, so you might have to obtain a new card if your lender is among them. When you add a child as an authorized user, they’ll likely get their own card connected to your account.
As credit cards that support authorized users typically aren’t tailored to young adults but parents, they come with significant annual fees worth considering. The card’s APR can also make a significant difference because there will be multiple users spending the borrowed funds.
Besides the above, you should focus on the following two criteria when selecting a card:
- Annual fees for authorized users
- Card benefits and rewards extending to them
Among various credit cards allowing authorized users, a few options stand out:
|Card||Annual Fee||Authorized User Annual Fee||APR||Authorized User Benefits|
|Citi Premier® Card||$95||$0||20.99%–28.99% variable||Purchase protection|
|American Express® Gold Card||$250||$0 for up to 5 authorized users, $35 per user thereafter||20.99%–28.99% variable||Travel rewards and insurance|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||$550||$75 per user||21.74%–28.74% variable||Priority Pass Select|
Car rental and travel insurance
Note that adding a child as an authorized user comes with a few potential pitfalls. If they’re not responsible enough, they might expose you to significant debt and damage your credit score, as authorized users’ activity will show up on your profile. Unless you’re certain about your child’s financial management skills, you might want to look for a less risky way of introducing them to the banking system.
Prepaid/Debit Cards—An Alternative Worth Exploring
Source: RDNE Stock project
If your child isn’t eligible or ready for a credit card, you can help them obtain a prepaid or debit card. The main difference between the two is that prepaid cards aren’t connected to a bank account—you can load them with funds to let your child replace cash with plastic.
Prepaid cards are suitable for younger children because they often come with numerous parental control tools. You can limit and control your child’s spending to teach them healthy spending habits.
A traditional debit card might be a better option if your child has found a job and needs a bank account to receive their income. Children ages 13 and over can obtain debit cards without issues, but you might need to co-sign the account until your child becomes an adult.
The Main Flaw of Prepaid and Debit Cards
The biggest drawback of the aforementioned options is that neither helps your child build credit. Starting a credit profile early in life can be highly beneficial and make it easier for your child to obtain credit cards and other products independently once they’ve met the age requirements.
The problem is, minors and young adults typically struggle to build credit due to the inaccessibility of financial products. To help parents support their children’s financial well-being and overcome these limitations, Austin Capital Bank offers FreeKick.
FreeKick—Parent-Sponsored Credit Profile Building and Monitoring
FreeKick combines a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured (FDIC-insured) deposit account with additional services to let parents build credit for children ages 14–25.
Knowing that a typical parent is overwhelmed with monthly subscriptions and fees for various services, FreeKick offers a free plan with a one-time FDIC-insured deposit and two additional options with low annual fees:
- Free—One-time deposit of $2,500
- $49/year—One-time deposit of $1,750
- $99/year—One-time deposit of $1,000
After selecting the plan you’re comfortable with, you can sign up for FreeKick to help your child establish a credit profile much sooner than they could independently.
How FreeKick Builds Children’s Credit
Using FreeKick’s services requires little to no effort—all you have to do is:
- Make a Deposit—Go to FreeKick’s website to select your plan and make a deposit
- Set It and Forget It—When you and your child activate the account, FreeKick will build 12 months of credit history for the child. If they’re a legal adult, payments and all relevant information will get reported to the three major credit bureaus. FreeKick can also build a credit history for minors ages 14–17, but it can be reported only after they become legal adults and activate credit reporting
- Keep Growing—When the 12-month term ends, you can renew the account and keep building your child’s credit. With 48 months of credit history, the child can save over $200,000 throughout adulthood
You can close the account at any point, even if the 12-month period hasn’t ended. You’ll get 100% of your deposit back, but note that no credit history can be reported if you close the account while your child is still a minor, as credit bureaus only accept reporting for legal adults.
Use FreeKick’s Credit Profile Monitoring for a Peace of Mind (Coming Soon)
Besides building your child’s credit, FreeKick will monitor their profile at no additional cost to stay on the lookout for any errors. Instead of having to contact credit bureaus to ensure the child’s profile is clean, you can rest assured FreeKick watches over it.
This way, the service also significantly reduces the risk of synthetic identity fraud, which numerous children have fallen victim to. This crime involves the use of a child’s Social Security number (SSN), which the perpetrator combines with fake information to create a new identity and obtain fraudulent loans.
FreeKick offers various security measures to help keep your child’s sensitive information safe, namely:
- SSN monitoring—Tracks all names, aliases, and addresses associated with your child’s SSN to detect signs of synthetic and true-name identity fraud. You also get access to a mapped view with locations of all identities connected to the SSN
- Dark Web monitoring—Using the CyberAgent surveillance system, FreeKick monitors internet activity related to the trading of private information
- Full-service ID restoration—If your child’s identity is compromised, a restoration specialist will work on their behalf and restore it. They’ll also dispute any fraudulent activity so that your child’s identity isn’t connected to it. FreeKick covers ancillary restoration services with a $1 million insurance
- Sex offender monitoring—Identifies and monitors registered sex offenders living in your proximity. You’ll get an alert with a detailed report if an offender registers under a different name using your address
Adult children get the above protection and a few additional services:
- Lost wallet protection
- Change of address monitoring
- Payday monitoring
- Court records monitoring
Make your child’s financial future easier and keep their credit profile free of issues—create a FreeKick account.
Featured image source: Antoni Shkraba