Can I add my child to my credit card?

Can I add my child to my credit card?

As you begin teaching your children about money management, credit is likely to be a topic of conversation. After all, an established credit history and good credit score are all part of being financially secure. But how can you give your children's credit history an early boost while also teaching them about financial responsibility? One option to consider is to add them to your credit card. This will help them to build credit and give them access to money in an emergency.




Age requirements to add your child to your credit card

Is it possible to add my child to my credit card?

Most large credit card issuers will let you add your children to your account as an authorized user or second cardholder. However, some credit card companies have minimum age requirements, and those that don't may impose an annual fee per additional cardholder. As an authorized user on your credit card, your child will be able to make payments on your account but you will be ultimately responsible for all charges.

At what age can you add your child to your credit card?

No one can legally open a credit card until they are 18 years old. However, some of the larger credit card providers will allow you to add an under-18-year-old to your credit card as an additional cardholder. Some have no minimum age requirement, but others require additional cardholders to be at least between the ages of 13 and 16.


Top U.S. bank requirements on the minimum age for authorized users on credit cards are:


Age Requirement

U.S. Bank

16 years old


15 years old

American Express

13 years old

Bank of America

No minimum age 


No minimum age 

Wells Fargo

No minimum age 

Citi Bank

No minimum age 

Capital One

No minimum age 


Benefits and disadvantages of adding my kid as an authorized user to my credit card

What are the benefits of adding my kid to my credit card?

There are several benefits to letting your child start swiping with your credit card:

  • Safety — Credit cards offer better consumer protection than cash or debit cards.
  • Credit history — Giving your child access to credit can help them build their credit history and may result in better rates and rewards in the future.
  • Education — Guiding your child through the use of a credit card can teach them about managing credit, from paying balances on time and interest rates to minimizing the risk of damaging credit.
  • Emergencies — Adding your child to your credit cards means they always have access to funds in an emergency, so they will never be left stranded.

Are there any disadvantages to adding my kid to my credit card?

Adding your child to your credit card may have certain drawbacks:

  • Increased risk — Additional credit cards can mean more risk of fraud and theft through unsafe online shopping or if they simply lose the card.
  • Your credit score could suffer — If you end up carrying a balance due to your child's spending, it could affect your credit score.
  • Their credit score could suffer — If your credit score drops due to your spending or a large, unexpected expense, your child's credit score may also be affected.
  • Cost of fees — Some credit card providers may charge fees for each additional cardholder.

Steps to add your child as an authorized user

Some banks may allow you to add your child as an authorized user online wherever you manage your account. Other banks may require you to call in to authorize your child. You’ll need some basic information about your kid to get the process started, like:


  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Mailing address
  • Citizenship


Once you provide any information necessary, the bank will process your request and issue your new card by mail.

How to remove your child as an authorized user

As your child grows up and builds their own credit, you may consider removing them from your credit card as an authorized user. Before you decide to remove your child, remember that removing them from your account can impact their credit score, while leaving them on the account can build credit history. Think through the financial consequences and discuss account changes with your child so you’re both prepared. Call your bank or make authorized user changes through your online banking system, and consider asking for a new card number to prevent any spending after the changes. 

Credit Card Act of 2009

The Credit Card Act of 2009 set many standards for how your kids under 21 can get a credit card. While this act set terms for transparent marketing and clearer information for students considering a card, it also requires kids to prove they make enough independent income to repay their debt. Now, many teens must have a parent cosign for their credit card or get added as an authorized user on a parent’s account.




What you need to know before adding your child to your card

Before you add your children to your credit card, there are a few important things you should keep in mind. For example:

Is your child responsible, and can they follow your rules?

You need to know that your child will stick to any rules and limitations you put on their use of your credit. Decide in advance what these rules will be, for instance, paying you back, paying the credit card bill themselves, where they can use the credit card, and what they can buy. Also, spend time thinking about the consequences should your child break the agreement, miss a payment, or overspend. If you have concerns that your child isn't ready to stick to your rules or that they will break them when given a chance, you may wish to wait longer before adding them to your credit card.

Does your child understand credit cards?

Your children don't have to be financial whizz-kids to be authorized to use your credit card, but they should at the very least have a basic understanding of credit limits, interest rates, and balances. Review their experience with debit cards and cash. Have they shown themselves to be responsible with money? If your child understands how their spending can affect their credit — and yours, as the main account holder — and why it's important, then they may be ready to be added to your account.

What is the state of your credit?

When you add your child to your credit card, they can benefit from your good credit history. But it can also damage your credit if they miss payments or their spending goes unchecked and they end up maxing out your credit. This could drag down your credit scores and harm your chances of getting more credit in the future.

What ground rules your child should follow after you’ve added them

Ask yourself, “Can I add my child to my credit card responsibly?” Before handing your child a card or letting them swipe in stores, make sure they understand the expectations and responsibilities. Consider setting your own ground rules to make credit card spending a rewarding and educational experience without dealing with any surprise bills. 


Talk to your child about:


  • Weekly or monthly spending limits
  • What items are approved for purchase
  • When to use their credit card, such as for emergencies or spending money
  • When to ask permission to spend
  • How credit card spending will be paid back
  • How long your child will be an authorized user
  • Consequences of overspending

What are the alternatives to adding my child to my credit card?

An alternative to adding your child to your credit card is to set them up with a prepaid debit card. If your child is aged between 6 and 18, they may be eligible for a GoHenry prepaid debit card, which they can use to withdraw cash and make in-store and online purchases. Not only does it give them a degree of financial independence, but a GoHenry debit card also teaches them valuable money management skills.


Adding your child to your credit card can be the first step to teaching them important lessons about money management and trust. But not every child is ready for the responsibility that comes with credit cards, so prepaid debit cards like GoHenry offer a great alternative.


Start your kids’ money journey today with a GoHenry debit card for kids to prepare them for smart credit card use in the future.

Written by GoHenry Published Sep 21, 2022 ● 7 min. read