9 Best Credit Cards That Allow Cosigners + Top 6 Alternatives

By: Ray FitzGerald • 5/24/2018

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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.

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.

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 the system (going after a cosigner for a debt can mean a few hoops to jump through). Though your local community bank or credit union may be more flexible, your major-bank options are basically limited to the following issuers.

Wells Fargo | Bank of America | U.S. Bank

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.

+See More Wells Fargo Credit Cards

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.

+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.

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.

+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.

+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.

+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.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

About the Author

Ray FitzGerald

Ray has more than a decade of journalism experience, writing for publications such as The Gainesville Sun, Miami Herald, and Investment Times. He’s covered everything from Bitcoin and blockchain technology to real estate investing and the stock market, but most enjoys sharing creative ways to budget and save money to make income go further. He works closely with various firms and individuals to learn more about traditional and alternative investments in his spare time, and greatly enjoys watching and reading about classic films from the silent period through the advent of color.