Credit cards that allow cosigners can open up 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.
While money is a common currency, it is hardly the only one — nor, likely, the oldest. Humans have been using clout and power as currency for millennia, and even today, the person whose influence can open the most doors is typically the most popular.
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.
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 will actually 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.
Best Wells Fargo Credit Cards
Wells Fargo has been in the banking business for over 150 years, and the bank has certainly learned a thing or two in that time, such as the fact that sometimes you need a cosigner. Card choices from Wells Fargo include cash back and points cards, as well as options with quality intro-APR offers.
1. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card awards a flat 3X points on dining purchases, travel, gas stations, and streaming services. Purchases outside of these popular categories earn 1 point per $1 spent.
- 3X points in popular categories, 1X points on everything else
- Cell phone protection when you pay your monthly bill with the card, subject to a deductible
- Pay no annual fee
There’s no limit to the number of points you can earn, and points don’t expire as long as your account is open.
2. Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card is a great choice for those interested in flat-rate rewards without worrying about tiered or bonus spending categories.
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all qualifying purchases, $150 cash rewards bonus when you spend $500 in purchases in the first 3 months
- Rewards don’t expire as long as the account is open
- Pay no annual fee
One thing to note about this and other Wells Fargo cards as stated on its website is that you may not be eligible for introductory annual percentage rates, fees, and/or bonus rewards offers if you opened a Wells Fargo Credit Card within the last 15 months and you received introductory APR(s), fees, and/or bonus rewards offers — even if that account is closed and has a $0 balance.
3. Wells Fargo Platinum Card
The Wells Fargo Platinum Card is a simple card without rewards. The value in this offer, though, is its long 0% intro APR period.
- 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers — see terms for current offer details
- Free FICO Credit Score online
- Pay no annual fee
The Wells Fargo Platinum Card is a great option for someone who wants to ditch high-interest debt on another card via a balance transfer to the Platinum Card or wants to pay off a large expense over time.
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 includes the ability to cosign credit cards. 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.
- $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
- Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings
- Plus, earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on everything else
- Bonus rewards capped at $2,500 is combined bonus category purchases each quarter
- No annual fee
- If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
- Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points
- 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days — that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
- Use your card to book your trip how and where you want — you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
- Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
- Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
- Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles
17.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
- 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then 15.24% to 25.24% Variable APR
- $0 Intro Balance transfer fee during first 60 days of account opening. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% (min. $10).
- No annual fee
- No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply.
- Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
15.24% to 25.24% (Variable)
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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
- Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
- 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
- Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
Average, Fair, Limited
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.
- No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
- Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
- Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
- Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
- Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
- Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
at Fingerhut'ssecure website
- Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
- Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
- Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands like Samsung, KitchenAid, and DeWalt
- Not an access card
See Issuers Website
at the issuer'ssecure website
- Checking Account Required
- Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
- A genuine Visa credit card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
- Manageable monthly payments
- If approved, simply pay a Program Fee to open your account and access your available credit
- Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus
Fair, Bad 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.