The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, December 8, 2022

15 Best Credit Cards for Teens in 2022

Best Credit Cards For Teens

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer

Written by: Brittney Mayer

Brittney Mayer

Brittney is a Credit Strategist and Finance Expert who has spent years honing her knowledge of the credit industry both personally and professionally. Brittney applies her more than a decade of research experience to crafting in-depth consumer guides designed to help CardRates readers make better, more informed financial decisions.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida. Today, she edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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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.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Every $1 you earn in cash back is $1 you can redeem.
  • Get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 15.74% to 26.74% Standard Variable Purchase APR applies, based on credit worthiness.
  • No annual fee.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
15.74% - 26.74% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good
Discover it® Balance Transfer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Every $1 you earn in cash back is $1 you can redeem.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "Apply Now" to see terms and conditions.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 6 months
0% Intro APR for 18 months
15.74% - 26.74% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good
BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.74% - 26.74% Variable
$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 The Bancorp Bank'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • 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
Brinks Prepaid Mastercard Review

at Republic Bank & Trust Company'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • Brink’s gives you the peace of mind you deserve. Securing cash and valuables since 1859.
  • With Brink’s Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster* than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • Use the Brink’s Money Prepaid Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply.)
  • *Card issued by Republic Bank & Trust Company, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Mastercard Debit cards are accepted. “Apply Now” for full details.
  • See additional Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard® Details.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fees
Not applicable
NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

at NetSpend'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • 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.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • No credit score required to apply.
  • Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • No annual fee and build your credit with responsible use.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 16.74% - 25.74% applies.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 6 months
10.99% Intro APR for 6 months
16.74% - 25.74% Variable APR
$0
Fair/New to Credit
STUDENT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn $100 when you spend $100 in the first three months
  • Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Enjoy no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, or hidden fees
  • Lock your card in the Capital One Mobile app if it's misplaced, lost or stolen
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% - 27.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
STUDENT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), with 1% on all other purchases
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn $100 when you spend $100 in the first three months
  • Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Enjoy no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, or hidden fees
  • Lock your card in the Capital One Mobile app if it's misplaced, lost or stolen
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% - 27.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, 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.

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees, and you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Put down a refundable $200 security deposit to get a $200 initial credit line
  • Building your credit? Using a card like this responsibly could help
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
28.49% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Platinum Secured card responsibly could help
  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
28.49% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
Discover it® Secured Credit Card Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
  • No credit score required to apply.
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200. That means a $200 deposit for a $200 credit line. Or a $500 deposit for a $500 credit line. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit, and the security deposit equals your credit limit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 7 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% Intro APR for 6 months
26.74% Variable APR
$0
New/Rebuilding

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.

Advertiser Disclosure

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