Best Credit Cards for Teens [2024]: Start Building Credit

CREDIT CARDS - STUDENT CREDIT CARDS
You can add your child as an authorized user to certain cards if they’re under 18, while they might qualify on their own if they’re over 18.
Updated July 17, 2024
Fact checked
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If your teen is under 18, we suggest adding them as an authorized user on one of your credit cards. We like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express because they’re easy to use, earn valuable rewards, and don’t charge authorized user fees.

If your teen is at least 18, they can apply for their own credit card. We recommend a secured credit card with less-strict requirements, such as the Discover it® Secured Credit Card. If your teen is a student, we recommend the Discover it® Student Cash Back.

Let’s explore the best credit cards for teens to see which card makes the most sense for your child.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • To add your teen as an authorized user, we recommend cards with no authorized user fees, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, and Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
  • If your teen is at least 18 but still under 21, we recommend student or secured cards. such as the Discover it® Student Cash Back and Discover it® Secured Credit Card.
  • You must be at least 18 to apply for your own credit card. If you’re under 21, you must have an eligible cosigner or enough independent income to afford credit card payments.
  • You can add a child as an authorized user to one of your existing credit cards to help them build their credit history.
  • Certain credit card issuers have authorized user age limits, while others don’t. For example, Chase and Capital One have no authorized user age restrictions, while you have to be at least 13 for American Express.

7 of the best credit cards for teens

Here are our recommendations depending on the age of your teen.

Credit cards for teens: 13- to 17-year-olds

1. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

2. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

3. Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Your child can’t legally apply for their own credit card until they’re at least 18 years old, but you can typically add your teen as an authorized user to one of your cards. This lets them start the process of building their credit history as long as the account is active and used responsibly.

Keep in mind
If you add your teen as an authorized user, you don’t have to give them their own credit card. You can continue using your own card, and your child, as an authorized user, can benefit from your responsible use.

Credit cards for teens: 18- to 20-year-olds

4. Discover it® Student Cash Back

5. Discover it® Secured Credit Card

6. Chase Freedom Rise℠

7. Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

If your child is between 18 to 20 years old, they can apply for their own credit card. However, the Credit CARD Act of 2009 prevents card issuers from granting new accounts to anyone under 21 unless they have an eligible cosigner or enough independent income to afford credit card payments.

Compare the best credit cards for teens

Description Rewards rate Annual fee
13- to 17-year-olds
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Chase Freedom Unlimited®

4.7

Simple cash back card with no authorized user fee or age requirement. 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and 3% cash back on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases $0
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

4.9

Excellent everyday rewards card with no authorized user fee. Authorized users must be at least 13. 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. online retail purchases (up to $6,000 per year on purchases in each category, then 1%); and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases $0 (terms apply)
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

4.9

Premium travel card with luxury benefits and no authorized user fee or age requirement. 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel, and 5 miles per dollar on Capital One Entertainment purchases through 12/31/25 $395
18- to 20-year-olds
Discover it® Student Cash Back Discover it® Student Cash Back(Rates and fees)

4.5

Student card with elevated cashback rewards rates. Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically. $0
Discover it® Secured Credit Card Discover it® Secured Credit Card(Rates and fees)

5.0

Secured card with useful everyday earning categories. Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. $0
Chase Freedom Rise℠ Chase Freedom Rise℠

5.0
    

Simple cash back card with better approval odds if you also have a Chase checking account. 1.5% cash back on all purchases $0
Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

4.75
    

Simple student card with an excellent everyday earning rate. Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats (through 11/14/2024); plus unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel $0

Credit cards for teens: 13- to 17-year-olds

1. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Pros
  • $0 annual fee
  • Simple rewards rate
  • No authorized user fee
Cons
  • Foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is an all-around great card for everyday spending because of its simple rewards rate and useful spending categories.

Why we like the Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Freedom Unlimited has a $0 annual fee and can help you earn 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and 3% cash back on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

New cardholders can earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).

It’s easy to add your teen as an authorized user on this card since there’s no age requirement and no authorized user fee.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Welcome offer: Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year)

Annual fee: $0

Apply now or read our review

What we don’t like about the Chase Freedom Unlimited

You have to pay a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars on purchases made abroad or from foreign merchants. This makes the Freedom Unlimited a poor choice for international travel.

2. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Pros
  • $0 annual fee (terms apply)
  • Excellent everyday rewards rate
  • No authorized user fee
Cons
  • 2.7% foreign transaction fee

The Amex Blue Cash Everyday Card makes sense if you want a high rewards rate on common purchases.

Why we like the Amex Blue Cash Everyday

The Amex Blue Cash Everyday has a $0 annual fee and helps you earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. online retail purchases (up to $6,000 per year on purchases in each category, then 1%); and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases.

As a new cardmember, you can earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in purchases in the first 6 months.

Your teen must be at least 13 years old to be an authorized user on American Express cards. There’s no fee to add authorized users to the Amex Blue Cash Everyday.

Other benefits include:

  • A statement credit of $7 monthly (up to $84 back annually) after spending at least $9.99 each month on an eligible subscription to the Disney Bundle using your enrolled card
  • Up to $15 per month in statement credits when you purchase an auto-renewing subscription for Home Chef meal kits with your enrolled card
Amex Blue Cash Everyday Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Welcome offer: Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in purchases in the first 6 months

Annual fee: $0

Learn how to apply or read our review

What we don’t like about the Amex Blue Cash Everyday

This isn’t a good international travel card because you have to pay 2.7% in foreign transaction fees on applicable purchases.

3. Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Pros
  • Simple rewards rate
  • $300 annual travel credit for bookings through Capital One Travel
  • No authorized user fee
Cons
  • $395 annual fee

The Capital One Venture X is one of our top travel cards because of its premium perks.

Why we like the Capital One Venture X

The Venture X has a straightforward rewards rate of 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel, and 5 miles per dollar on Capital One Entertainment purchases through 12/31/25.

As a new cardholder, you can earn 75,000 miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

One of our favorite parts about the Venture X is that you can add your teen as an authorized user for free with no age requirement and they can take advantage of many of the same benefits as the primary cardholder, including:

  • Access to Capital One, Priority Pass, and Plaza Premium Lounges (note that you might have to be a certain age to enroll in some lounge benefits)
  • Travel and purchase protections
  • No foreign transaction fees

Authorized users don’t receive their own $300 annual travel credit for bookings through Capital One Travel or up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

Capital One Venture X Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Annual fee: $395

Read our review

What we don’t like about the Capital One Venture X

You have to pay a $395 annual fee as the primary cardholder (no fee for authorized users).

Credit cards for teens: 18- to 20-year-olds

4. Discover it® Student Cash Back

Pros
  • $0 annual fee
  • Elevated rewards rate
  • No credit score required to apply
Cons
  • You must be a student

The Discover it Student Cash Back makes sense if you’re a student and want a high rewards rate.

Why we like the Discover it Student Cash Back

With the Discover it Student Cash Back, you get a $0 annual fee and you can earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.

For new cardmembers, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Discover it Student Cash Back Discover it® Student Cash Back

Welcome offer: Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Annual fee: $0

Apply now or read our Discover it® Student Cash Back(Rates and fees) review

What we don’t like about the Discover it Student Cash Back

You must be a student to qualify for this card, which typically means being enrolled in a four-year college or university or something similar.

5. Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Pros
  • $0 annual fee
  • Useful everyday rewards rate
  • No credit score required to apply
Cons
  • Security deposit requirement

The Discover it Secured Credit Card makes sense if you’re just starting to build your credit history.

Why we like the Discover it Secured Credit Card

With the Discover it Secured Credit Card, you have a $0 annual fee and can earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

As a new cardholder, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Discover it Secured Credit Card Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Welcome offer: Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Annual fee: $0

Apply now or read our Discover it® Secured Credit Card(Rates and fees) review

What we don’t like about the Discover it Secured Credit Card

Your credit line is equal to your security deposit, which is a minimum of $200 but can go up to $2,500.

6. Chase Freedom Rise℠

Pros
  • $0 annual fee
  • Simple rewards rate
  • Better approval odds if you have a Chase checking account
Cons
  • 3% foreign transaction fees

The Chase Freedom Rise makes sense if you’re already a Chase customer or plan to be.

Why we like the Chase Freedom Rise

The Freedom Rise has a $0 annual fee and earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases. You can also earn a $25 statement credit for enrolling in automatic payments within the first three months of account opening.

What’s unique about this card is that Chase advertises that having a Chase checking account with a balance of at least $250 will increase your chances of getting approved for the Freedom Rise.

Chase Freedom Rise Chase Freedom Rise℠

Welcome offer: $25 statement credit for enrolling in automatic payments within the first three months of account opening

Annual fee: $0

Read our review

What we don’t like about the Chase Freedom Rise

You have to pay 3% foreign transaction fees on purchases made from foreign merchants or while traveling abroad.

7. Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Pros
  • $0 annual fee
  • Simple rewards rate
  • No foreign transaction fees
Cons
  • You must be a student

The Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards makes sense if you want a simple student card for earning cash back.

Why we like the Capital One Quicksilver

The Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards has a $0 annual fee and provides unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats (through 11/14/2024); plus unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

As a new cardholder, you can earn a one-time $50 cash bonus after spending $100 in the first 3 months.

Capital One Quicksilver Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Welcome offer: Earn a one-time $50 cash bonus after spending $100 in the first 3 months

Annual fee: $0

Read our review

What we don’t like about the Capital One Quicksilver

This student version of the popular Capital One Quicksilver card is only available if you’re attending a four-year university, community college, or another eligible institution.

How to choose the best credit card for a teen

Consider these factors to help you choose among the best first credit cards for your teen.

1. Card requirements

Teens under 18 can’t apply for their own credit cards, so they would need to be added as authorized users to start the credit-building process.

If your teen is 18 or older, they might not have enough credit history to qualify for most unsecured cards. Also, the CARD Act prohibits anyone under 21 from having their own card account unless they have an eligible cosigner or can meet income requirements.

Secured credit cards tend to have lower credit requirements than unsecured cards, making them a viable option for anyone with little or no credit history.

The best credit cards for students could make sense if your teen is 18 or older and a student. Your teen would have to prove they have an independent income, but some credit card companies are more lenient with student credit cards. For example, financial support from a parent that’s regularly deposited into a bank account could count as personal income.

2. Authorized user age and fees

If you want to add your teen as an authorized user on one of your credit cards, consider whether the card issuer has authorized user age limits or fees. Many card issuers have no minimum age requirements for authorized users, while a few require the authorized user to be a certain age.

Authorized user fees depend on the card. In most cases, you shouldn’t have to worry about an authorized user fee if the credit card itself doesn’t have an annual fee. Premium cards with annual fees, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express, tend to have authorized user fees.

3. Card management tools

If you’re planning to add your teen as an authorized user, you might want a card that offers certain management features.

For example, Capital One lets you add an account user in the form of an account manager (full access) or an authorized user (limited access). A Capital One authorized user can access funds and make purchases with their own card. But you can lock the card at any time.

A Capital One account manager receives their own card and login and has near-equal access to the whole card account.

4. Rewards

Credit card rewards and benefits aren’t quite as important as building a credit history and learning about responsible credit usage. However, we always recommend getting as much value as possible from your credit cards.

So if you already have a plan to add your teen as an authorized user or have them apply for their own credit card, it doesn’t hurt to see if a credit card also offers valuable rewards and benefits. After all, building a credit history while earning cashback or travel rewards is better than only building a credit history.

5 quick tips for building your teen's credit (even while they're a minor)

1. Open a bank account first

Before you venture into credit cards, consider opening a checking account for your teen and getting them a debit card or prepaid card so they can get comfortable with reviewing their balances and tracking their transactions.

2. Consider making them an authorized user on your credit card

While your teen is under 18, adding them as an authorized user to your credit card account can help them build credit at an early age. As long as they use the card responsibly, holding a credit card as an authorized user can help minors build a positive credit history.

3. Look into secured credit card offers

Unlike unsecured cards, secured cards use a security deposit as collateral, which means that if your teen stops paying their monthly payments, the card issuer can pay off their balance with the security deposit. Once your teen is old enough, you might consider looking into a secured credit card that reports payment history to the big three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. The right secured credit card could also help your teen build credit with responsible card use.

4. Teach your teen the dos and don'ts of credit card use

Talk to your teen about responsible card usage, the importance of building credit, how credit utilization and credit limits work, and how to establish a good credit score. Walk them through the issuer's mobile app to ensure they know how to review their credit card bill and make payments or set up automatic payments. Once they understand the basics, consider discussing more advanced concepts like points and other rewards programs. Also discuss important things to avoid with a credit card, like overspending or making late payments.

5. Check in with them about their finances

Once your teen has a credit card, checking in with them regularly about their finances can help ensure they stay on track. This will give them an opportunity to ask questions, learn from you, and discuss progress toward their financial goals.

FAQ

What is the best credit card for a teenager?

The best credit card for a teenager is one that will help them learn how to establish healthy financial habits for their future like making on-time payments. Certain credit cards make this easier than others. For example, American Express credit cards allow you to add authorized users to your account once they’re at least 13 years old. They can benefit from being added to your account and may earn cashback rewards or travel rewards, but you can track their purchases and set spending limits for them.

How old does your teenager need to be to get a credit card?

You typically have to be 18 years of age to apply for your own credit card. However, you’ll need a cosigner who’s over 21 years old if you’re younger than 21 years old, according to the Credit Card Act of 2009.

Still, many credit card companies make it easy for young people and children under 18 years old to get a credit card as an authorized user on someone else’s account. This allows teenagers an opportunity to use credit cards and learn important financial habits, but the primary account holder is still responsible for the credit card account.

How do you build credit for your teenager?

Your teenager won’t have the option to apply for their own credit card before they’re 18 years old, but you can add them as an authorized user on one of your credit card accounts. As you responsibly manage your account and don’t have late payments, your teen’s credit score could improve.

You don’t have to give your teen a physical credit card to use, but it can be helpful for them to learn how building credit works. In addition, if your teen uses a rewards credit card to make purchases, you’ll earn those rewards on your account.

Should you give your teenager a credit card?

Your teenager can’t apply for any credit cards before they’re 18 years old, and they’ll still need a cosigner until they’re 21 years old. These restrictions can make it hard for your teen to build credit, so giving your teenager a credit card after adding them as an authorized user on one of your accounts can be helpful. This method can help your teen learn how budgeting works so they can use and pay off their card purchases each month.

If you don’t feel comfortable giving your teen a credit card, you can still add them as an authorized user without giving them a physical card to use. Your responsible use of the account will still count as activity on your teen’s credit report and can help them build credit.

Best credit cards for teens: bottom line

The best credit card for a teen could be an authorized user card, a secured card, or a student card, depending on multiple factors, including the age of your child.

Adding someone as an authorized user could be a good idea for anyone just starting to build their credit history, but only people 18 and older can apply for their own credit cards.

If you want to add your teen as an authorized user, we think the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Amex Blue Cash Everyday are easy cards to understand and use, and they don’t have authorized user fees.

If your teen is at least 18 and a student, consider checking out the Discover it® Student Cash Back(Rates and fees) for its $0 annual fee and elevated rewards rate. If they’re not a student, the Discover it Secured Credit Card makes more sense.

If you want to research more options, use our dedicated list to compare credit cards and find the right card for your teen.

Methodology

To identify the best credit cards for teens, we compiled a list of credit cards that support adding teenagers as authorized users or offer applications to people under 21 with a cosigner. We focused on credit cards that come with helpful features for the age range between 13 and 20.

We evaluated each credit card based on several factors, including annual fees, rewards rates, authorized user fees, and additional benefits such as welcome offers and more. We kept in mind that every family has unique needs and preferences. Therefore, we included credit cards that could offer value to families and teens with varying needs.

Keep in mind that our recommendations don’t follow a certain order and aren’t meant to be a complete list of all available options. Instead, we aim to provide a useful starting point for families looking for a suitable credit card.

Great for Building Credit

Chase Freedom Rise℠
5.0

Chase Freedom Rise℠

Current Offer

$25 statement credit for enrolling in automatic payments within the first three months of account opening

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1.5% cash back on all purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.
Matt Miczulski Matt Miczulski is a personal finance writer specializing in financial news, budget travel, banking, and debt. His interest in personal finance took off after eliminating $30,000 in debt in just over a year, and his goal is to help others learn how to get ahead with better money management strategies. A lover of history, Matt hopes to use his passion for storytelling to shine a new light on how people think about money. His work has also been featured on MoneyDoneRight and Recruiter.com.