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Best Credit Cards for Teens of 2021

The best credit cards for teenagers feature simple terms that are easy to understand. Here are the best cards that can help you build credit as a teen.

At Experian, one of our priorities is consumer credit and finance education. This post may contain links and references to one or more of our partners, but we provide an objective view to help you make the best decisions. For more information, see our Editorial Policy.

Using a credit card can help teens build a credit history, making adult tasks such as renting an apartment easier. People under 21 are restricted from opening their own credit card accounts without sufficient income or a cosigner, which can complicate things for teens looking to get started with credit. The good news: Teens can access credit via student credit cards, secured cards and even some unsecured cards (if they have a steady income), as well as cosigned credit cards and authorized-user accounts.

Credit cards may help teens learn to manage money. In a 2019 survey, 8% of parents with children under 18 said at least one of their kids has a credit card. Among recently graduated high school students, 30% have at least one credit card; 23% have two or more, according to educational technology company Everfi. Here are some of the best teen credit cards today.

3 Partner Offers

Our Top Picks for the Best Credit Cards for Teens of 2021
Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

1% cash back on every purchase

Rewards rate can be raised to 1.25% when bill is paid on time

No annual fee

Petal<sup>®</sup> 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa<sup>®</sup> Credit Card

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

2% - 10% cash back at select merchants

No annual fee

The OpenSky<sup>®</sup> Secured Visa<sup>®</sup> Credit Card

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

$200 minimum security deposit

$35 annual fee

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Cash back rewards and features supporting responsible credit use make the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card a solid choice. Cardholders earn 1% cash back on all purchases; paying the bill on time earns an additional 0.25% cash back for that month, lifting the rewards rate to 1.25% total. You'll also earn $5 per month for 12 months on select streaming subscriptions when you pay subscription bills on time (exclusions apply).

There are no annual fees or foreign transaction fees, and a late payment won't increase the APR. However, a late payment fee of up to $40 could put a dent in a teen's budget, and the 26.99% variable APR is high. Cardholders can monitor their credit with the free CreditWise app and may be considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months.

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Apply

on Capital One's website

Fair

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

APR

26.99% (Variable)

Intro APR

N/A

Rewards

1% cash back on All Purchases

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Earn $5 per month for 12 months on Select Streaming Subscriptions when you pay on time. *Exclusions Apply
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

The Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card issued by WebBank, Member FDIC, does not require a credit history or credit score to apply. Instead, applicants can securely link a bank account with at least three months of history on which they are the primary or joint account holder. Petal assesses the income, savings and spending history reflected in that account, as well as credit history and credit score if available.

Credit limits range from $500 to $5,000; the variable APR ranges from 19.99% to a steep 29.49%. Cardholders can earn between 2% and 10% cash back from select merchants.

Petal reports to all three major credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion and Equifax—and SageStream, a smaller credit bureau some creditors use. The Petal mobile app helps users budget, calculate payments, monitor subscriptions and find nearby merchants that offer cash back when using the card. There are no annual fees or foreign transaction fees, though late and bounced payment fees apply.

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

Apply

on Petal's website

Fair - Very Good, New to Credit, Rebuilding

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

APR

19.99% - 29.49% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

Rewards

None

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details
  • Petal 1 was designed for consumers who already have a credit history, and want to improve their credit safely, responsibly, and affordably with no annual fees
  • No Annual fee. No international fees. (Late and bounced payment fees apply.)
  • $500 - $5,000 credit limits
  • Variable APRs 19.99% - 29.49%
  • 2% - 10% cash back from select merchants
  • Build credit alongside tens of thousands of Petal Card members
  • Cash flow technology may help applicants without credit history get approved
  • Petal's mobile app makes it easy to manage your money, track your spending, and automate payments
  • See if you're pre-approved within minutes without impacting your credit score
  • Petal reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • No deposits required
  • Card issued by WebBank, Member FDIC

Rates and Fees

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

You say your teen has no credit history or bank account? They don't need either to apply for The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card. Instead, applicants make a refundable security deposit of at least $200, which generally becomes their credit limit. If the cardholder stops making payments, the card issuer can keep the deposit to cover the card's outstanding balance. The annual fee is $35; the ongoing variable APR is 17.39%.

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card reports to all three major credit bureaus and offers education tools to help cardholders build credit. However, there's no option to upgrade to an unsecured card. If your teen has a bank account, you may want to consider a secured credit card with rewards, no annual fee and the option to upgrade.

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Apply

on Capital Bank N.A.'s website

Poor, New to Credit, Rebuilding

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

APR

17.39% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

Rewards

None

Annual Fee

$35

Card Details
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable*** deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page (search "OpenSky Card" in Facebook).
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way
  • ***View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card

Rates and Fees

What Are the Rules for Teenagers and Credit Cards?

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 prohibits credit card issuers from granting new accounts to anyone under age 21 unless they have an adult cosigner or demonstrate sufficient income to repay debt.

That income may come from a job, if the teen works, or other means such as scholarships, grants or a trust fund. Without an income, it's still possible to get a cosigned credit card where the teen is the primary cardholder and responsible for paying the credit card bills. If the teen can't pay, responsibility shifts to the cosigner. Debt on the cosigned card is included in the cosigner's debt-to-income ratio, possibly making it harder for them to get approved for credit.

But few credit card issuers today allow credit card cosigners, and teens under age 18 can't get cards in their own name, even with a cosigner or proof of income. However, many credit card companies allow minors to be on an adult's account as authorized users.

Becoming an Authorized User on a Parent's Card

A 2019 Sallie Mae study found 25% of teens with credit cards were authorized users on a parent's card, rather than having their own account. The primary cardholder on an authorized-user account is responsible for the bill, although the authorized user may be able to make payments. Being added as an authorized user on a credit account typically means the account is then added to your credit reports, which can help build credit.

The status of the account can affect the potential benefit it has, however. For instance, an account with a low credit utilization ratio, a long history and a record of on-time payments will have the most positive effect.

Before adding a teen as an authorized user, ask if the card issuer reports authorized-user accounts to credit bureaus and if there are any age restrictions. Some card issuers require authorized users to be 13, 15 or 16; others have no age requirements.

What if I Can't Be an Authorized User?

Young people 18 years of age and older who can't become an authorized user on a credit card may qualify for two other options in their own names:

  • Student credit cards (such as the Capital One card above) are designed for college students just starting to build credit. A credit check and earned income are required to qualify for student cards; most (though not all) also require college enrollment. Student cards may offer benefits such as low introductory APRs, travel rewards or cash back.
  • Secured credit cards (such as The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card above) require a refundable security deposit, which typically establishes the card's credit limit. The issuer keeps the deposit if the cardholder stops making payments, making card issuers more willing to extend credit to those with no credit history. Aside from the deposit, secured credit cards work just like any other credit card. Used responsibly, secured credit cards can help you build your credit history.

What About Prepaid Cards?

Prepaid credit cards look like regular credit cards, but function more like debit cards. You put money into a prepaid card account and use the card to make purchases up to the amount in the account. As the balance shrinks, you can usually "reload" the card with more money.

Regular credit cards are revolving credit; users borrow money from the card issuer for purchases and pay it back. These payments are reported to credit bureaus, helping to build a credit history. But because you aren't borrowing any money when using a prepaid card, there are no payments to report to credit bureaus, so using the card won't help build credit.

Help Your Teen Learn to Use Credit

Getting a credit card can help teens build credit and learn financial responsibility. Before your teen starts searching for a credit card, have them check their credit report and credit score, if they have one. Knowing what (if anything) is in their credit history will help your teen determine what credit card is best for them.