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If you're looking to jump-start your kid's credit history or track their spending, consider adding your child as an authorized user on your credit card. Becoming an authorized user has looser age requirements than if your kid opened their own card, since the minimum age to open a credit card as the primary account holder is 18.
As an authorized user, your kid can benefit from your good history and start to establish their own credit and good financial habits in a relatively low-risk way (granted you responsibly manage credit).
Just know that you — as the primary cardholder — are responsible for the transactions they make on their card and for paying the bill. Therefore, it's a good idea to educate your child on how credit cards work and set up spending limits and alerts.
Below, CNBC Select reviews the the minimum age to be an authorized user on a credit card.
The age requirement for adding authorized users varies by card issuer, so we've rounded up the ages for popular issuers.
- American Express: 13 years old
- Bank of America: No minimum age requirement
- Barclays: 13 years old
- Capital One: No minimum age requirement
- Chase: No minimum age requirement
- Citi: No minimum age requirement
- Discover: 15 years old
- U.S. Bank: 16 years old
- Wells Fargo: No minimum age requirement
Generally, authorized users come at no additional cost. But if you add an authorized user to an annual fee card, there may be a fee.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which has a $550 annual fee, charges an extra $75 annually for each additional card. With the Sapphire Reserve and other luxury cards with high annual fees, adding additional authorized users can help you reach the welcome bonus spending requirement faster. Plus, busy families with the Sapphire Reserve card might benefit from features like the complimentary DashPass subscription (activate by March. 31, 2022). However, certain features of the Sapphire Reserve and other travel cards, like airport lounge access, typically apply only to the primary cardholder.
Before you add your child as an authorized user, check if your card issuer charges any additional fees and weigh the value of the fee.
There may come a time when you want to remove your kid as an authorized user. Once your kid turns 18, they can consider applying for their own credit card as long as they can prove they can independently repay what they borrow. The Discover it® Student Cash Back is a great choice for college students, or your child can opt for a secured card, such as the Discover it® Secured Credit Card.
Keep in mind — you shouldn't remove your kid as an authorized user until they open a credit card in their name. If you remove them beforehand, the authorized user status will likely drop off their credit report and leave them with no credit history.
When you decide the time is right to remove them from your card, simply call your card issuer and request the removal. You may also be able to remove an authorized user through your online account.
For rates and fees of the Discover it® Student Cash Back, click here.
For rates and fees of the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, click here.