Credit Cards for High School Students

You cannot legally obtain a credit card until you reach the age of 18, but that does open the door for high school seniors to have a card of their own, also there are other ways around this age requirement.

If you are bound and determined to obtain a credit card and you are below the legally required age of 18 you can get a parent to add you onto your credit card account, which in many cases means you will be issued a card of your own. Also you could just use one of your parent’s cards, with their permission obviously, without being on their account. The only legitimate reason a child younger than 18 would need a credit card, in my mind at least, is for an online purchase. If you would like to buy something online you obviously need a debit card, credit card, or paypal account. Unfortunately Paypal does not allow users to open accounts that are under the age of 18.

If you would like to make an online purchase, or have a credit card of some kind and you are under the age of 18 you should look into prepaid debit cards. You apply for a card, add money to the card and you can use it just like you would use a normal debit card. It works in exactly the same manner a debit card works, except it is not technically tied to a bank account. Often times using a debit card is safer than carrying around a lot of cash and you can use prepaid debit cards for online purchases so it is a viable option.

Now that you know your options as far as credit cards go as a high school student you should ask yourself: Why do I want a credit card anyway? If it is to make general purchases, how exactly is it advantageous to a debit card, a prepaid debit card or cash? Yes, you could technically earn small rewards here or there or get a few dollars cash back for your purchases, but it will hardly amount to anything, even over years. If you are looking to build your credit, do not bother this early, there is a better chance you will get behind on your payments and start with a bad credit score than you actually stay on top of things and lay a good foundation as an 18 year old.

Another negative about applying for a credit card in high school is that you have very limited options. Should you decide to apply for cards you will notice that you can only realistically obtain cards with many negative attributes. Instead of having a card that has an average APR of 14.5% you will likely experience an APR of around 20% after any possible introductory low interest periods. Also your card will likely come with fees of some kind, annual fees or monthly fees. In addition you should not count on rewards of any kind. If you do end up with a credit card be proactive about paying off your balances. Make a payment right when you get your monthly statement each month to wipe out your balance so you do not have to pay any in interest. This will also help you build up your credit score.

The average college student graduates with $3,000 in credit card debt alone; this is not counting $20,000 in student loans and other debts. If you own a credit card of your own before entering college do you really expect to beat the odds? You are setting yourself up for failure if you own a credit card before graduating high school. It is very easy to buy things that you do not need from the time you are 18 years old to the time you are 22. You can buy food, clothes, electronics, things for your dorm room, presents for friends/love interests… It is just far too easy to fall into a trap of debt. When you graduate high school and college you want a diploma and a bright future, not debt and a bad credit score.

If you do decide to get a credit card as a high school student you should look at the Discover student card. This card has no annual fee and it is geared towards students so you do not have to have excellent credit, or any credit for that matter to qualify for it. In addition there is a 9 month introductory period where you will pay no interest whatsoever on any of your purchases. Also, you will receive 1% cash back on all of your purchases on the card no matter what! This student card might not be perfect for you but it is definitely something you should check out.