Your Child as an Authorized Credit Card User: Yes or No?

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020
Updated: March 11th, 2020
The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.

A recent poll showed that 6 million or 8% of parents in the U.S. have at least one child using a credit card. Of course, children can’t apply for their own credit card until they turn at least 18, but most issuers allow to add them to their parents’ card accounts as authorized users.

The most common reason for giving a minor child a credit card is the parents’ wish to teach them how to manage finances. On the one hand, this move can make little cardholders more responsible. On the other hand, children are still children and can sometimes make surprise purchases marring your credit.

When It’s Time to Give Your Child a Credit Card?

First, you need to find out whether your credit card issuer allows to add children as authorized users and from what age. For example, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo require no minimum age. So, you can add your minor to these banks’ credit card accounts whenever you decide the time is ripe.

Some other issuers do not forbid authorized teen users as well but determine a minimum allowable age. Thus, American Express and Barclays require authorized users to reach the age of 13 while US Bank demand them to be not younger than 15.

Will it Help Build Your Child’s Credit History?

Once you let your child use your credit card account, you should concern yourself not only with your own but also with their credit score. Whether it will be affected depends on the card issuer who does or does not report to credit bureaus in the child’s own name. Make sure to inquire about this process.
Apart from that, credit bureaus do their bit as well. For example, TransUnion does not provide credit history for children under 16 and Experian creates a credit history if the reported user is 18.

Moreover, remember that such an undertaking can even be damaging if your account is not in good standing. In this case, your bad credit tends to be inherited to your child.

Authorized User: Yes or No?

Forbidden fruit is sweet. According to the mentioned above survey, 21% of parents holding credit cards caught their children at using them in an underhand way at least once. So, perhaps, banning is not the best idea.

Giving your child a credit card is a good chance for them to learn financial literacy and start building a credit history. But always keep abreast and do not forget to monitor spending as it may have a bad influence on both your and your child’s credit.

All rates and fees, and other terms and conditions of the products mentioned in this article/post are actual as of the last update date but are subject to change. See the current products' Terms & Conditions on the issuing banks' websites.

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