The Right Age to Get Credit Cards
Whether you are young and setting out on your life's journey in the world or a parent of a child who's becoming an adult, knowing the right age for someone to get a credit card is important for them to avoid possible bankruptcy in the future. Although there are some laws that regulate when and how people can obtain a card in their own name, being eligible under the law does not necessarily mean that it is the right time for someone to get a credit card. Having a credit card is a major responsibility, and it should not be rushed into lightly. Before signing up for one, you and anyone else should have a responsible, matured awareness of maintaining a proper budget and of making on time payments.
Legal Restrictions on Credit Cards
There are a number of laws that pertain to the age at which a person can have a credit card in their own name. Until someone has reached the age of adulthood of 18, no minor can apply for a credit card of their own. While minors are not permitted their own card, a person under 18 can use credit cards taken out by their parents by being added to the account as an authorized user. By doing this, a child can have full use of a card even as the legal responsibility for the account and its payment remains with a parent.
For those who have recently become legal adults, there are still some restrictions that impact that person's ability to get a credit card. If you are between the ages of 18 and 21, the law requires most in this age group to have a co-signer older than 21 on the account prior to acceptance. Doing this will still place the card in the applicant's name and make that person the responsible party, but this credit worthy co-signer provides added protection to ensure that any and all debts will wind up being paid.
Making a Wise Decision
Although various legal guidelines help to determine when a person can go out and get a credit card, these do not automatically mean that this would be a prudent decision. While a credit card can provide a person with greater financial freedom and spending power, it also represents a serious agreement to remain in good standing on any and all debts that are built up on the card. Prior to taking this step, a person should have a firm grasp of what constitutes a prudent financial decision.
If you are thinking about getting your first credit card, there are a few things you should prepare for in advance. First, you need to know that you are going to have the money needed to pay off what you have charged. Be aware of how much income you have coming in at any time and budget the items you charge in a way that will allow you to make the payments that will come. Also, make sure that you understand the many credit troubles that can come from making unwise decisions with a credit card. Particularly on your first card, the risk of finding yourself in a situation that will damage your credit rating should be considered and ready to be avoided.
Deciding on the right age to get credit cards is not a uniform decision. While there are several legal guidelines that restrict when this can be done, the decision is ultimately one that must be made on an individual basis. By taking time to assess your situation and what you can reasonably provide for, you will know when the time is right to take this step.
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State Guides to Credit Card Laws
- North Carolina
- West Virginia