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Under 21? How to Get a Student Credit Card

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If you’re under the age of 21 and want to acquire a credit card with your name on it, you’ve probably found that doing so isn’t easy.

That’s because new federal laws place a number of restrictions on the access to credit for consumers under the age of 21, which may make it difficult for you to get a student credit card. So what are these restrictions?

Well for one thing, you are simply barred from getting one unless you have either an adult co-signer—someone over 21 who will be financially responsible for the account along with you—or can otherwise prove that you have sufficient income to afford the payments by yourself. However, you should know that the law does not state what constitutes “sufficient income” and therefore the proof you’ll have to provide may be different for each lender.

Of course, most young adults, particularly those who are still in college, probably don’t have a large enough income on their own to afford payments, so it’s recommended that you find an adult co-signer who does. That will probably mean parents, rather than older siblings or friends, which might be a good idea anyway, because older consumers likely have significantly better credit ratings, which would give you access to better credit card offers.

One mistake many students may also fall into when applying for credit cards for the first time is getting more than one within a short period of time. For most people, this is a time when they’re just learning how to use credit cards, and therefore it’s important to get a feel for what it takes to manage an account properly before committing to more than one of them.

Numerous studies have found that, in addition to student loan debt, the average college student these days is graduating with several credit card accounts in their name and thousands of dollars worth of debt (though both the number of cards and the amount owed on them are falling). For this reason, it’s a good idea for students to manage credit cards as responsibly as possible.

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