Best Credit Cards to Share With Teenagers

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Your teens won't be able to qualify for a credit card of their own until they're 18. But you can add them to your credit card account before then, and there are many reasons to do so.

You might want them to have a credit card in case of emergencies, particularly if they're driving on their own and often away from home. It's also an opportunity to teach them financial responsibility, and it can help them establish their credit. Some cards may be better than others, particularly if you want to control their spending, so it's worth taking the time to review your options.

Joint Credit Cards Vs. Adding an Authorized User

Whether you're trying to add a spouse, child or friend, most credit card issuers don't allow cosigners or joint credit card accounts. Instead, if you want to add another person to your account, you'll need to add them as an authorized user.

The difference is that cosigners have equal responsibility for the account. You both can earn and use rewards, and are both required to pay the balance. If the bill goes unpaid, both account holders are liable.

In contrast, when you add an authorized user to your account, you are legally responsible for the entire account as the primary cardholder. Your authorized user can make purchases and may be able to pay down the balance, but you'll generally have control over any rewards that are earned and, again, are ultimately liable for any balance that accrues.

If you add someone as an authorized user, the credit card company may report the account and activity to the credit bureaus so it can then be reflected in their budding credit report. Because of this, adding your teen as an authorized user can help them build credit. Authorized user and reporting policies vary depending on the issuer, so your mileage may vary.

For example, American Express lets you add an authorized user who is at least 13 years old, but will only report the authorized user's account when the person is at least 18 years old. Discover requires the person to be at least 15, and will report the authorized user account starting at that age. Some issuers, including Citi, don't have an age requirement for adding or reporting the authorized user.

Controlling Your Teen's Authorized-User Account

As you'll be the one responsible for paying the bill, you might also want some control over how much your teen can charge with their card, if your credit card issuer offers you this kind of control.

One card issuer that provides this option is American Express. With an American Express card, you can set authorized user spending alerts and limits, which can be as low as $200. Your monthly statement will also separate your charges from the authorized user's charges. And, you can log in to your account and check the authorized user's current balance at any time.

Partially because of these options, many of our top picks are American Express cards.

Top Credit Cards for Adding a Teen

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

You can add your teen as an authorized user on the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. This is equal to $750 in travel and isn't the only perk you'll both enjoy from using this card.

Cardholders can earn 2 miles per dollar on every eligible purchase without a cap, and they won't expire as long as the account is still open. You can also earn 5 miles per dollar spent when using Capital One Travel to book hotels and rental cars. With options to transfer these reward points to over 15 travel loyalty programs, you can earn as a family towards your next adventure.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card does come with a $95 annual fee, but that may be worth it if you travel regularly and are able to balance it out with perks such as the statement credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases each year, then 1%), 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and 1% cash back elsewhere. New cardholders can receive a promotional 0% APR on purchases for 15 months from the date of account opening. After 15 months, the card's standard APR will be a variable 15.49% to 25.49% (variable). See rates and fees; this card doesn't have an annual fee.

It could be a good fit if your usual spending aligns with the cash back bonus categories. And, if your teen is driving, they can use the credit card to buy gas and earn you bonus cash back. While you'll wind up paying the bill, they'll still learn and understand part of the cost of driving—and you could ask them to reimburse you for certain expenses. Terms apply.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

You can earn cash back for categories your teen spends in regularly with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Your teen's purchases will help you take advantage of 3% cash back at restaurants, takeout and eligible delivery services plus 1.5% on all other purchases. You can also earn 5% cash back on travel costs, gift cards and more bought through Chase Ultimate Rewards® program

During your first year with the card, you can get an additional 1.5% cash back on up to $20,000 in purchases. This intro offer bumps up the rewards rate on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases to 6.5% in the intro period, 4.5% on drugstore or dining purchases and 1.5% on all other purchases in the first year.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® comes with 15.74% to 24.49% variable APR. But as an intro offer, you can get 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from account opening, making this an ideal card for financing some big purchases alongside helping your teen learn about credit.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

If you take regular family vacations, your teen's spending could help pay for hotel stays with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. The card offers a large intro bonus for new cardholders and you'll earn 6 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. You also earn 3 points per dollar on purchases that don't fit into a bonus category.

While staying at a Hilton portfolio hotel or resort, you pay with this card and get 12 points per dollar. Cardholders also receive Gold status, which comes with benefits like bonus points from stays, potential room upgrades and complimentary breakfast. Terms apply.

A Stepping Stone to a Card of Their Own

Adding your teen as an authorized user on your account can be a good opportunity for them to learn how to use a credit card, and your on-time payments can help them build a positive credit history. Once they're older, their established credit and experience with a credit card may help prepare them for a starter card of their own.

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