Establishing credit at an early age helps you build a positive credit profile that will help you qualify for future loans, credit cards and housing. The longer your credit history is, the higher you can expect your credit score to climb--making getting a credit card at 17 a wise choice for financially responsible individuals. Although its possible to apply and be approved for a credit card as a minor, you’ll need a steady job or permission from your parents to do so.
Call several secured credit card companies and student credit card companies and inquire about the qualifications you need to meet in order to obtain approval for a credit card. While some secured and student credit cards often don’t require you to pass a credit check, some do. Choose the credit card company that offers you the best interest rate and doesn’t require you to demonstrate a previous credit history.
Visit the credit card company’s website and read the credit card’s terms and conditions. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act requires all credit card companies to post the terms of their contracts online. Make sure that you understand and agree to the company’s terms before filling out an application.
Download and print out a credit card application from the website. If online applications aren’t available, call the company and request an application through the mail.
Ask your parents to co-sign the credit card application or include proof of your income. According to the Federal Reserve Board, the CARD Act requires all individuals under 21 who apply for a credit card to provide either proof of a steady income or have a parent or guardian co-sign for the card.
Send in the application. The time frame between the time you mail off the application and when you receive your new credit card may vary depending on the credit card company you chose.
Keeping your credit card balance low and making timely payments each month is crucial to building a positive credit rating.
Not all secured credit card companies report consumer accounts to the credit bureaus. If a company does not report your account to the credit bureaus, it won’t show up on your credit report and cannot help you build a positive credit history.
Don’t attempt to open numerous credit card accounts. Having too many credit cards can damage your credit score.
Ciele Edwards holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been a consumer advocate and credit specialist for more than 10 years. She currently works in the real-estate industry as a consumer credit and debt specialist. Edwards has experience working with collections, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, loans and credit law.