The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Monday, September 21, 2020

15 Best Credit Cards for Teens in 2020

Best Credit Cards For Teens

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: May 4, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

In the article below, we’ll take a look at some of the best credit cards for teens. Establishing credit and learning good spending and saving habits can prove extremely valuable as young people prepare to enter college and the workforce.

In 2017, the average kid in the U.S. took home an allowance of around $8.74 a week, about the cost of a super-sized fast-food meal — or a really rockin’ fidget spinner. Although the amount may seem laughably small to the typical working adult, it only takes a little income to start instilling the right financial behaviors in an impressionable young mind.

Financial opportunities, like allowances and part-time jobs, can help your child learn to budget and make wise spending decisions, but it’s also a good idea to start teaching them about building and using credit responsibly (before the potential consequences grow). While the types of credit available to those under the age of 21 are limited, you have options for helping your teen start off on the right credit foot.

13 to 17 | 18 to 20

Best Credit Cards for Teens Ages 13 to 17

Despite the onslaught of hormones that make them tempestuous at times, our teenage years are some of the most significant of our lives. It’s during this time that we learn many of the key skills we’ll need to survive the Real World outside the hallowed halls of grade school. It’s also an ideal time to start teaching your child about credit.

Of course, teenagers aren’t legally able to obtain their own credit card until the age of 18 — and there are some restrictions even then. That doesn’t mean you can’t help your teenager learn how to manage plastic; you can make your teen an authorized user on one of your credit cards or, if that sounds like trouble, get them their very own prepaid card.

Authorized Users | Prepaid Cards

Best Cards for Adding Teens as Authorized Users

One of the easiest ways to help your teen start building credit is to make them an authorized user on a credit card in your name. Most major credit card companies — with the exception of Citi — will allow you to add authorized users under the age of 18, though Amex and Discover require them to be at least 15 years of age, and Barclays at least 13 years of age.

As an authorized user, your teen will be issued a credit card in their name that is connected to your account and will report to the credit bureaus to establish your teen’s credit. With the card, your teen can charge purchases to your account as if it were their own. Authorized users can also enjoy most of the card’s perks, like purchase rewards and fraud protection.

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Blue Cash Preferred® Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets and on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • Earn 3% cash back on transit, including gas, taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses, and more. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
  • Earn $300 back in the form of a statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of Card Membership
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months from the date of account opening
  • $95 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
13.99% - 23.99%
$95
Good/Excellent

If you’re considering adding your teen as an authorized user, be sure to lay out clear rules before handing over the proverbial keys to the kingdom. Your teen should have a set spending limit so they can learn to budget, and you should encourage them to track each purchase (perhaps through a spending app or online banking account).

You may also want to include them in making the card payment each month so they learn the importance of paying on time — and the potential perils of interest. While the account and its balance will both likely show up on your teen’s credit reports, they won’t actually be legally liable for any of the debt — no matter how much they rack up.

Best Prepaid Cards to Teach Teens About Finances

If the idea of handing your teenager an actual line of credit is scarier than teaching them to drive, then a prepaid card may be the way to go. Prepaid cards that operate on a credit card network — think Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express — can be used to make purchases anywhere that network is accepted, just like a credit card.

Unlike a credit card, however, prepaid cards are just that: prepaid. You (or your teen) can “load” money onto the card, and it’s those funds that are used to make purchases. Once the funds run out, more money can be loaded to continue making purchases. Many prepaid cards, like our expert-rated picks below, also accept direct deposits.

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
3.6/5.0
  • Move money from your PayPal account to fund your prepaid card account.
  • Earn cash back and personalized offers, just for using your card.
  • With Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • Card issued by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
  • Click PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® for additional features & program details, and to request a Card.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fee
Not applicable
Bluebird by American Express® Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • Get your paycheck up to 2 days faster with free direct deposit
  • Cash your checks to your Account with the Bluebird Mobile app. Access your money in minutes for a fee or in 10 days for free if your check is not returned unpaid.
  • Enjoy Card Membership benefits such as Purchase Protection and Fraud Protection when making purchases online or in store with Bluebird
  • Get free ATM access at over 30,000 MoneyPass® ATM locations. You can also pick up cash at over 4,500 Walmart® stores with Cash Pickup Powered by Ria®.
  • Pay no monthly fees or overdraft fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
$0
Not applicable
NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
3.5/5.0
  • With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • No Overdraft Fees on purchases using your card.
  • Use the NetSpend Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted. Click "Get My Card" for full details.
  • See additional NetSpend® Prepaid Visa® details.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fee
Not applicable

Since prepaid cards aren’t associated with a line of credit, they won’t help establish or build your teen’s credit history — which can be both good and bad. On the one hand, your teen won’t be building good credit with their good financial behaviors; on the other hand, your teen won’t be building bad credit when they make the (inevitable) mistakes.

While prepaid cards won’t build credit, they can be used to help build good credit behaviors. You should have your teen budget and track their card purchases to learn how to spend wisely. You may even consider having them make regular monthly “payments” on the same day each month to reload the card, which can help instill the on-time payment habits they will need with a credit card later in life.

Best Credit Cards for Teens Ages 18 to 20

Once your teenager has hit the wise old age of 18, they’ll have options for obtaining their own credit card account. But it’s hardly the free-for-all buffet of credit card offers that you may have received on your own 18th birthday. In fact, your new 18-year-old will likely not receive any mailed offers at all.

Why? The CARD Act of 2009 laid down strict rules that prevent those under the age of 21 from obtaining their own credit card unless they have a creditworthy cosigner or have an individual income. And there’s the kicker. Your teenager can’t claim the household income as their own, meaning they’ll need their own source of funds if you don’t want to cosign.

Cosigners | Students | Secured Cards

Best Cards for Teen Cosigners

The point behind the CARD Act was to ensure teens have a way of paying back their credit card debt before allowing them to actually take on any debt. Without an income, this means a cosigner who is willing to take responsibility for paying the debt if the teen cardholder cannot. Unlike authorized users, cosigners are equally responsible for the debt.

Because of the potential challenges in collecting debts from a cosigner — and the high rate of primary cardholder default on cosigned debts — most major credit card issuers aren’t fans of cosigned cards. A few are willing to take on the risk, however, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and U.S. Bank. Some of our favorite card options for teen cosigners are below.

7. Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

  • Receive 0% APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 12 months
  • Receive up to $600 in cellphone protection
  • Pay $0 annual fee

(The information related to Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card has been collected by CardRates.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.)

8. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

  • Receive 0% APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 12 months
  • Earn 3x points on eating out and ordering in, gas, and travel
  • Pay $0 annual fee

(The information related to Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has been collected by CardRates.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.)

9. BankAmericard® Credit Card

This card is currently not available.

Bank of America® Rating
★★★★★
N/A
OVERALL RATING
N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

The most important thing to remember about cosigning a credit card for your teen is that everyone’s credit will be affected. As a cosigner, your credit will feel any negative impacts if your teen adopts poor credit behaviors, including late payments and high balances.

So, it’s doubly important to ensure your teen understands the proper ways to use credit before setting them loose with their cosigned piece of plastic. Not only should you show them how to budget and track purchases and how to make and remember monthly payments, but you should also make sure they understand the potential impacts of not doing these things.

Best Cards for Students

If you’re not too keen on cosigning for your teen during their “learning years,” then they’ll need to show an individual income to qualify for a card on their own. While there are no hard-and-fast rules on how much is enough, they’ll need at least enough income to cover their potential credit card debt in the eyes of the lender.

As a student, your teen likely has a form of income that can legitimately be declared on a credit card application. That’s because, while they need to report individual income, this can often include regular allowances as well as extra income from scholarships or grants. Student credit cards in particular, like our picks below, may be more flexible on exact income requirements.

STUDENT RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.2/5.0
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this
  • Get Eno®, your Capital One® assistant, to manage your account via text, receive alerts, and shop safer online
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.5/5.0
  • 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings Learn more
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • You’ll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening
  • 0% introductory APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 12 billing cycles (3% balance transfer fee applies)
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 billing cycles
0% for 12 billing cycles
13.99% - 23.99%
$0
None/Limited
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.4/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere
  • No blackout dates or restrictions apply, and points never expire
  • 0% introductory APR on new purchases for 12 billing cycles
  • Earn 25,000 bonus points ($250 value) if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 billing cycles
N/A
14.99% - 22.99%
$0
None/Limited

In many cases, student credit cards will have more flexible credit requirements than other unsecured cards, meaning your teen’s lack of a credit history may not stop them from qualifying. And, with responsible card use over their college years, your teen can graduate with a healthy credit profile already established.

Additionally, many student cards come with the same perks and rewards enjoyed by adult cardholders, including some options for earning cash back rewards on purchases. Plus, student cards may also have student-specific benefits, like a statement credit for earning good grades, as well as low or no annual fees.

Best Secured Cards for Teens

Secured credit cards can be an excellent option for teens who want to build credit without a cosigner but who have trouble qualifying for an unsecured credit card. While they are used just like any other credit card, secured cards are secured by the required deposit (deposit amount will vary by card).

The size of the deposit will typically dictate the size of the credit line. The deposit reduces the risk to the credit card issuer — which is typically passed onto the cardholder through lower fees and interest rates. In fact, many of our favorite secured credit cards have no annual fee at all, with some even offering cash back rewards for card purchases.

Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • Better than Prepaid...Go with a Secured Card! Load One Time - Keep On Using
  • Absolutely No Credit Check or Minimum Credit Score Required
  • Automatic Reporting to All Three National Credit Bureaus
  • 9.99% Low Fixed APR - Your Rate Won’t Go Up Even if You Are Late
  • Activate Today with a $200 Minimum Deposit - Maximum $1,000. * Increase Your Credit Limit up to $5,000 by Adding Additional Deposits Anytime
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
9.99%
$48
Poor/Fair/Limited/Damaged
Bank of America® Cash Back Secured Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.5/5.0
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings
  • Earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • A minimum refundable security deposit of $300 (maximum of $4,900) is required to open this account
  • Access your FICO® Score updated monthly for free, within your Mobile Banking app or in Online Banking
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
23.99%
$0
Bad/Limited
BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.3/5.0
  • A secured credit card designed to help establish, strengthen or rebuild credit
  • A minimum refundable security deposit of $300 (maximum of $4,900) is required to open this account
  • Access your FICO Score updated monthly for free within your Mobile Banking app or in Online Banking
  • We'll periodically review your account and, based on your overall credit history (including your account with us and other credit cards and loans), you may qualify to have your security deposit returned. Not all customers will qualify.
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
22.99%
$0
Bad/Limited

The deposit made for a secured credit card is placed in a locked savings account where it resides until the account is closed. Provided the credit card account is kept in good standing, secured card deposits are fully refundable, and some issuers may offer the ability to earn interest on the deposit, as well.

Some secured credit cards can also be upgraded after your teen’s credit has improved. A handful of secured card issuers will regularly check the cardholder’s credit score and payment history to determine eligibility to be upgraded to an unsecured product. If upgraded, the deposit is automatically returned to the cardholder.

Help Your Teen Start Building Credit the Right Way

For many parents, the time between your child’s first weekly allowance to their very first credit card can seem to flash by in a blink. Before long, thoughts of candy and toys will be replaced by car insurance and fuel — and then with the needs of their own homes and families.

Given how quickly it can all go by, it’s important to take the time out to teach your teens how to manage money and credit while they’re still young enough to avoid major financial mistakes. A little bit of education in their teens can save them from a lifetime of bad credit and debt.

While this doesn’t mean you have to give your 5-year-old a lesson in macro economics, you should start talking about money and budgeting whenever the situation lends itself to it. For example, a request for a pricey toy can lead to a talk about the difference between needs and wants, and how to save for both types of purchases.

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