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What’s the Minimum Age for an Authorized User on a Credit Card?

Adding your child as an authorized user is generally easy, but some issuers have minimum age requirements.

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You can help your child build credit before they turn 18, and it’s as easy as adding them to your credit card as an authorized user. You can even keep the card under wraps until the time is right, as simply having them on an account in good standing can help their credit score. 

Most credit card issuers allow you to add an authorized user to your account, though age requirements vary from issuer to issuer. If the primary cardholder has a solid credit history, this maneuver can allow the authorized user to build or repair their own credit profile, since activity reported to the credit bureaus will, in many cases, factor into the credit scores for both primary cardholders and authorized users. 

Adding your child as an authorized user is a way for them to piggyback off your line of credit. The liability falls on you as the primary cardholder, but with responsible use, your child’s credit score can positively reap the benefits.   

Here’s what you should know before adding your kid as an authorized user on your credit card, including the minimum age by issuer. 

What is the minimum age to be an authorized user on a credit card?

You need to be 18 or older to open a credit card account, but the minimum age for an authorized user varies by issuer. Some issuers will report account activity, on behalf of the primary account holder and authorized users, to the three credit bureaus. But some won’t report account activity for minors under a particular age. American Express, for example, extends authorized user eligibility to children 13 or older. But it won’t report credit activity on authorized users until age 18, according to Experian. If your child is under 18, before moving forward ask your issuer if it reports authorized user account activity for minors to the credit bureaus.

If you’re looking to make a child an authorized user on your account to help them build credit, it’s important to understand the card issuer’s policy on reporting credit card account activity. Here are the minimum age requirements for some of the most popular banks, and whether they report authorized user account activity for minors: 

Issuer Minimum age requirements for authorized users  Reports activity for minors (under the age of 18)
American Express13 years oldNo
Barclays11 years oldYes
Capital OneNo minimum age requirement Yes
ChaseNo minimum age requirement No
CitiNo minimum age requirement Yes
Discover15 years oldYes
U.S. Bank13 years oldYes
Synchrony No minimum age requirement Yes
Wells Fargo18 years oldNo

What are the benefits of adding a child as an authorized user?

Adding your child as an authorized user can help them learn smart financial habits while building credit at the same time with the appropriate oversight. 

As you already know, and as your child will learn in time, credit plays an important role in nearly every aspect of life. Getting a first apartment, buying a first car and taking out a first mortgage will all go much more smoothly and easily if your child has built a strong credit profile. If you feel it’s the right time for your child to learn the importance of credit, adding them as an authorized user can come with a handful of benefits, such as the following:  

Build your child’s credit 

Adding your child as an authorized user on your credit card account can help build their credit. Not every issuer reports a minor’s authorized user account to the credit bureaus, but those that do offer a way for children to start building credit years before they can open their own credit card account. You can even add your kid as an authorized user and then keep the card in their name under lock and key until they’re older. This way, they can benefit from building their credit profile without even having access to the risks that come with any credit card. This can help them qualify for better interest rates and credit cards in the future. 

Teach your child financial responsibility 

Adding your child as an authorized user on your account is a great opportunity to teach them about spending, saving and budgeting. As every parent knows, kids aren’t born with the knowledge that money doesn’t actually grow on trees. You have to teach them.

If your child is old enough for you to trust them with a credit card, start by teaching them the basics of how a credit card is different than cash or a debit card, and what the consequences are if you don’t repay the money according to the terms of the card agreement. Talk through appropriate (and inappropriate) uses for the credit card, so you’re on the same page about how and when your child should use a card in their name. If your intention is for your child to have a credit card only in case of emergency, make sure you talk ahead of time about what exactly constitutes an emergency. If you want your child to have a weekly or monthly discretionary spending budget, make sure that plan is clear and understood by you and your child.

Setting healthy ground rules is important. The bulk of the responsibility falls on you, because as the primary account holder, you’re liable for any missed payments. 

Earn extra rewards from their spending 

Most experts would advise against adding a child to your credit card just to boost your spending and the points that follow, but that can also be a secondary benefit. If your child is an authorized user on your rewards credit card, their spending will likely earn rewards. And as the primary cardholder, you’re entitled to use those rewards however you see fit. Just remember that it’s never a good idea to spend money you don’t have just to earn points or rewards -- it doesn’t take long for credit card debt and the interest it carries to outweigh any benefits of points and rewards.

What are the drawbacks of adding an authorized user?

Whenever anyone else’s name is on your accounts, whether it be a mortgage, loan or credit card, there are risks to consider. You’re ultimately responsible for paying the bill, so if your authorized user racks up charges you can’t afford to pay, you could damage your credit score. 

On the flip side, your activity and card usage can also negatively impact the credit history of any authorized users on your card. If you miss payments or carry a high balance month to month, that can weigh down the credit score of anyone authorized to use your credit card.

An authorized user’s spending and card activity can affect your credit score in other ways, too. For instance, your credit utilization ratio, which is the percentage of your credit limit in use, should stay at or below 30% to maintain a healthy credit score. If your authorized user charges beyond that, your credit score will likely drop accordingly.

Most issuers don’t charge a fee to add an authorized user, but that isn’t always the case (especially for premium cards that charge annual fees). For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express* costs $195 annually for each authorized users. So be sure to read your card agreement to understand any such policies with regard to authorized users.

How do I add a child as an authorized user?

Most credit card issuers allow you to add an authorized user online. Otherwise, call your issuer using the customer service number on the back of your credit card. The card company might ask for the child’s Social Security number and date of birth to verify their age and link the child’s name to the account. You can also add a child as an authorized user when you open a new credit card account. 

How to remove my child as an authorized user

When it comes time to remove your child as an authorized user, you can call your credit card issuer for help taking them off the account. Some issuers also allow you to remove authorized users online. 

What’s the difference between an authorized user and a joint account holder?

The difference between an authorized user and a joint account holder is debt liability. An authorized user is added to the credit card account by the primary cardholder, who’s the person financially responsible for making payments on the account. Authorized users can only make purchases with their card; they can’t make account decisions on behalf of the primary cardholder, and they can’t make payments toward the balance.

As a primary or joint account owner, you can add or remove an authorized user at any time and control other aspects of the account. Joint cardholders are mutually responsible for the debt.

The bottom line

Though adding a child as an authorized user on your credit card account can be advantageous, you want to make sure you discuss the details and expectations with them. Ensure they understand the potential consequences of irresponsible spending and the long-term benefits of responsible spending.

Editors’ note: An earlier version of this article was assisted by an AI engine. This version has been substantially updated by a staff writer.

*All information about The Platinum Card from American Express has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Liliana Hall is a writer for CNET Money covering banking, credit cards and mortgages. Previously, she wrote about personal credit for Bankrate and She is passionate about providing accessible content to enhance financial literacy. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in journalism, and has worked in the newsrooms of KUT and the Austin Chronicle. When not working, she is probably paddle boarding, hopping on a flight or reading for her book club.
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