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At What Age Can You Get Your First Credit Card?

It’s considered by many to be a rite of passage into adulthood – getting your first credit card. Exactly how old do you have to be to snag your first card? The answer is simple on that: you must be at least 18 years of age.

But bear in mind that qualifying for a credit card is one thing, and getting approved is another. You might want to consider waiting until you’re a few years older when you’ll be more likely to have a regular income. This is the foundation for a good credit history and a decent credit score. Here are some practical suggestions for how you can obtain your first piece of precious plastic at the age of 18…

Photo: Suradech Prapairat/Shutterstock

Obtain A Student Credit Card

If you’re 18 years old and don’t have a regular income yet because you’re in college, you might want to check into getting a student credit card. This type of card works the same as a regular credit card, but usually comes with a lower credit limit, and is more likely to be approved. Some student credit cards also offer benefits such as cashback for good grades or discounts on the items students tend to buy.

Establish A Regular Source Of Income

Because credit card issuers want to feel confident that a young cardholder will be able to pay the credit card bills, 18-year-old applicants are more likely to be approved if they can show proof of a steady income. Card companies want to see that a cardholder has the potential to keep up with payments, and not accrue an unmanageable amount of debt.

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Look Into Getting A Secured Credit Card

Secured credit cards require a deposit, which the bank can tap into if the cardholder is unable to keep up with payments. After using a secured card responsibly for at least a year, typically the card company will offer you the opportunity to obtain an unsecured credit card, at which time you’ll be able to get your initial card deposit back.

Get A Co-Signer

If you’re an 18-year-old without a steady income, you aren’t in college, and can’t scrape together a deposit for a secured credit card, all might not be lost when it comes to getting your first card. You can ask a family member with a good credit history to co-sign your credit card application.

A co-signer pledges to make the payments if the cardholder falls behind. But a word to the wise: both parties need to understand that a co-signer can wind up responsible for the card debt; if the card bills go unpaid, both the cardholder’s and the cosigner’s credit will be hurt.

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