The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Credit Cards That Allow Cosigners & Top Alternatives

Credit Cards That Allow Cosigners

credit card advice

Ray FitzGerald

Written by: Ray FitzGerald

Ray FitzGerald

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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Credit cards that allow cosigners can open the doors to a world of possibilities for consumers who may not otherwise have access to a line of credit — whether it’s needed for unforeseen emergency expenses or rebuilding credit. 

In the consumer credit world, a good portion of your financial clout is represented by your credit report, and those with the best credit reports see the most open doors. What’s more, if your credit report isn’t up to snuff, many credit doors will remain closed — indefinitely.

However, just as a celebrity can say, “They’re with me,” to open the door for someone less popular, so, too, can someone with excellent credit. Called cosigning, having someone with well-established credit vouch for your poor or limited credit history can make all the difference.

Allows Cosigners | Alternatives

Credit Card Issuers That Allow Cosigners

Not to be confused with authorized users — who have the ability to make purchases on a credit account, but no obligation to make payments on that account — cosigners are effectively joint account holders. This means cosigners will be held responsible for repaying any credit card debt that the primary account holder is unable (or unwilling) to pay off.

Moreover, issuers understand that cardholders who need cosigners to apply are likely underqualified for a particular card. This means an issuer may go after the cosigner first if the primary cardholder misses a payment.

While nearly every credit card company will allow authorized users, few major credit card issuers allow cosigners, likely because of the risk inherent in lending to consumers who need cosigners to qualify. Though your local community bank or credit union may be more flexible, your major-bank options are basically limited to the following issuers.

Bank of America | U.S. Bank

Best Bank of America Credit Cards

As the pioneer of the mass-market consumer credit card, Bank of America has a long history of giving cardholders what they want — and that may include the ability to cosign credit cards. Anecdotal reports around the web state that some users can bring a cosigner when applying, but only if they’ve previously been rejected when applying on their own, and they can’t do it online — cosigners can only be added over the phone by calling BoA’s credit card customer service at 800-732-9194.

Bank of America’s card selection includes something for just about anyone, including both Visa and Mastercard options, cash back and travel rewards options, plus co-branded options for extra customization.

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
  • Get a $300 statement credit when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back on your choice of one of the following six categories: gas stations (default), office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom & wireless, computer services, or business consulting services and 2% cash back on dining on the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each year, 1% thereafter
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Get 75% more cash back on every purchase when you're a Preferred Rewards for Business Platinum Honors tier member. That means you'll earn 5.25% on your selected choice category, 3.5% on dining, and unlimited 1.75% cash back on all other purchases.
  • 0% on purchases for 9 billing cycles from account opening, then a variable APR applies
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 9 billing cycles
N/A
13.74% to 23.74% Variable
$0
Good
EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.6
OVERALL RATING
  • Earn 25,000 bonus points ($250 value) if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • 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 and balance transfers for 18 billing cycles, then a variable APR applies
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 18 billing cycles
0% for 18 billing cycles
16.24% - 26.24% Variable
$0
None/Limited
EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.6
OVERALL RATING
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings, and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 0% Introductory APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 18 billing cycles (balance transfer fee applies), then a variable APR applies
  • Optional overdraft protection option helps prevent declined purchases, returned checks, or other overdrafts when you link your eligible Bank of America® checking account to your credit card. Transfer fees may apply.
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 18 billing cycles
0% for 18 billing cycles
16.24% - 26.24% Variable
$0
None/Limited

+See More Bank of America Credit Cards

Best U.S. Bank Credit Cards

Although perhaps not as well known as its ubiquitous competition, U.S. Bank has over 150 years of experience in the consumer banking industry. The issuer’s range of credit cards is broad, offering rewards cards with cash back and travel, as well as low-interest cards and U.S. Bank members-only cards.

The application will ask whether you want to include a cosigner, or you can add a cosigner after you’ve been approved by calling customer service at 800-285-8585.

7. U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

The U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card is a big-benefit card exclusive to US Bank customers. The card will likely be most valuable for frequent travelers who can take full advantage of the extra rewards and annual travel reimbursements.

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

  • Earn 3X points per $1 on eligible travel purchases and mobile wallet spending
  • Receive up to $325 annual travel reimbursements
  • Receive 12 annual complimentary wifi passes

Since the Altitude Reserve is a Visa Infinite card — one of only a handful in the US — cardholders will also enjoy exclusive Visa Infinite benefits, including potentially valuable airfare discounts and other traveler-centered perks.

8. U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card gives you control over your rewards, letting you select your bonus categories, including two 5% cash back categories.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

  • Earn 5% cash back in two categories of your choosing, plus 2% cash back in an additional category you select
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Pay no annual fee, ever

New cardholders can enjoy an extra 0.5% rewards for the first year. Plus, receive the perks of being a Visa Signature cardholder, including a bevy of special travel benefits.

9. U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card

The U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card can help you earn no matter how you travel, offering bonus points on travel-related expenses like restaurants, gas, and airline purchases.

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card

  • Earn 3X points per $1 at restaurants, plus 2X points per $1 on airline and gas station purchases
  • Earn 1X points per $1 on all other purchases
  • Enjoy complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi

Rewards earned with your FlexPerks card can be redeemed toward air travel, hotel stays, merchandise, gift cards, and statement credits.

+See More U.S. Bank Credit Cards

Alternative Cards That Don’t Require a Cosigner

Although some credit card applicants may be required to use a cosigner if their credit history is particularly poor or very limited, the most common situation in which cardholders need a cosigner is for compliance with the CARD Act of 2009. Among other consumer protections it put in place, the CARD Act sought to reduce the risk of young people falling into credit card debt by limiting its availability.

Specifically, the CARD Act requires that young people, ages 18 to 21, need to have either a cosigner or a verifiable income source to apply for a credit card under their own name. This can be particularly challenging for students, as grants, loans, and/or scholarships typically do not count as income sources.

Unfortunately, the only real way around the CARD Act cosigner requirement if you’re under the age of 21 is to obtain an actual income. While there is no hard-and-fast minimum income requirement, issuers need to determine that you can at least afford to pay the maximum limit on the card. If you have a limited income, a student credit card can be a good option.

For cases in which you need a cosigner due to credit score concerns, you may be able to avoid the requirement by selecting a credit card designed for poor-credit consumers. Consisting of subprime unsecured and secured credit cards, these options tend to have much more flexible credit requirements, making them easier to qualify for without a cosigner.

Student | Poor Credit

Best Credit Cards for Students

Although 18-year-olds are technically adults — in the eyes of the law, anyway — students often exist in a world of their own, somewhere between teenager and responsible adult. As students start to think about heading into the “real world,” it’s a good time to think about establishing credit, and a student-centered credit card, like our favorites below, can be a great way to get started.

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, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, 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.
  • NEW! 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 15.24% - 24.24% applies.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 6 months
10.99% Intro APR for 6 months
15.24% - 24.24% 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
  • 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
  • Earn up to $500 a year by referring friends and family when they're approved for a Capital One credit card
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.49% - 26.49% (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
  • 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
  • Earn up to $500 a year by referring friends and family when they're approved for a Capital One credit card
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.49% - 26.49% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

+See More Credit Cards for Students

Best Credit Cards for Poor Credit

While it can be hard to establish credit, rebuilding credit after it’s damaged can be even more challenging. Thankfully, you can rebuild, and using a credit card to reestablish a positive payment history can be a great way to start the process. Our top-rated credit cards for poor credit below include options for unsecured and secured credit cards so you can compare your options.

PREMIER Bankcard® Mastercard® Credit Card Review

at PREMIER Bankcard®'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
  • Don’t let a low FICO score stop you from applying – we approve applications others may not.
  • You don’t need good credit to apply.
  • Just complete the short application and find out in 60 seconds if you’re approved.
  • When you need assistance our award-winning US-based Customer Service agents are there to help.
  • FICO scores are used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any PREMIER Bankcard® product.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Provider Website
See Provider Website
Fair/Poor
PREMIER Bankcard® Grey Credit Card Review

at PREMIER Bankcard®'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
  • You don’t need good credit to apply.
  • We help people with bad credit, every day.
  • Just complete the short application and find out in 60 seconds if you’re approved.
  • You can build* or rebuild your credit: apply for a PREMIER Bankcard credit card, keep your balance low, and pay all your monthly bills on time.
  • Don’t let a low FICO score stop you from applying – we approve applications others may not.
  • FICO scores are used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any PREMIER Bankcard® product.
  • *Build credit by keeping your balance low and paying all your bills on time every month.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Provider Website
See Provider Website
Fair/Poor
Surge Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.6
OVERALL RATING
  • Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From Experian* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Initial Credit Limit of $300 – $1,000* (subject to available credit)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
See website for Details
See website for Details
24.99% – 29.99% (Variable)
See website for Details
See website for Details*

+See More Credit Cards for Poor Credit

If You Build It, Card Offers Will Come

Whether you choose to use a cosigner to obtain credit or to go it on your own, you’ll want to maintain the same healthy credit habits. Pay your debts on time each month, be sure to always make at least your minimum credit card payment, and maintain low balances across your credit accounts, and your credit score will start to grow.

However, it’s important to remember that a great credit score can’t be built overnight. As with a strong reputation and the personal clout to open doors, the kind of credit scores that open financial doors take time — and dedication — to build. With healthy credit behaviors practiced over months and years, you can have a score that’s popular with lenders of all kinds.

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