Cred cards for an 18 year old

How Many Credit Cards can an Eighteen Year Old Student Get?

My teen-age son, JumpStart Jack, recently added two more credit cards to his collection.  They will be his final cards before his 19th birthday next month.  How many credit cards can an eighteen year old student get?

Cards before age 18.

Jack got his first couple of cards at age 16, but due to restrictions for minors, they were authorized user American Express cards.  I added him to my account to take advantage of AMEX offers.  A Delta AU card was only used a few times for AMEX offers.  Jack began to carry the Starwood AU card for purchases like family groceries and gas for the car.  It was more convenient than reimbursing him later for charges I was responsible to pay.  He used a debit card linked to his youth checking account, for all of his personal expenses.

Age 18.

After his birthday, we were anxious to get started earning credit card bonuses. He had several rejections, before his first successful credit card application, 45 days later. Discover was the first bank to approve his application, with a $1,000 credit line on the Discover it Student Card.

He had repeated success a month later with the Bank of America Cash Back for Students card.

Store cards don’t typically come with worthwhile bonuses, but they give easy approvals.  The Victoria Secret card was perfect, and I signed him up without his knowledge, just so I could tease him about his pretty new pink card.  The VS card hasn’t been used yet, but it added to his total account number, on his credit report. 

At age 18 and 8 months, he successfully applied for his fourth card, the AMEX Everyday card.  It was his first credit card that wasn’t an authorized user or student card.

We have been trying to spread the cards out among the banks, and have now included Discover, Amex, Bank of America, and Comenity.  Chase and Citi have mailed him offers, but then given instant rejections to his applications.  Remaining big credit card issuers include Capital One, Barclays, and US Bank.

Recent Card.

American Express Delta Blue

AMEX had been sending Delta offers in the mail, and we decided to grab another AMEX.  The offer advertised a bonus of 50,000 miles, and waived the annual fee, for the first year.

Credit card age is an important factor for credit score, and it didn’t make sense to get a card that would need to be closed in 11 months.  Instead we chose to apply for the Blue Delta SkyMiles card.  We got the instant approval, and a bonus 10,000 Delta Sky Miles after $500 in spend.  It is a shame the card won’t arrive before for textbook rip-off purchase time.

Delta Blue Approval

Age of accounts.

Average age of accounts is a category that influences credit score, and it increases very slowly.  All of his cards steadily get older one month at a time, but every new application reduces average account age, by adding a 0 month old card to the list.

At age 16, we didn’t have intentions to help his credit score, but the AU Starwood card is his oldest card, at almost 3 years.  His credit report also lists a credit line of $10,000 for the Starwood, which is great for the percentage of credit utilized category.  I closed my Delta card to avoid the annual fee, and unfortunately his Delta AU card no longer appears on his report.

I’ve read reports that Discover will backdate the age of accounts for authorized users to the age of the account.  My Discover card dates back to my college days in the early 90’s.

I doubt it will work,  but a 25 year old card could do wonders to his average age of accounts.  I logged into my Discover account, and added Jack as an authorized user.

We have been limiting authorized user cards recently due to the Chase 5/24 rule.  Chase has shut Jack out on the Chase Freedom card, so we decided to add the AU card anyway.

Before his 19th birthday, Jacks cards will include:

  • 2 authorized user credit cards
  • 2 student credit cards
  • 1 store charge card
  • 2 credit cards

His credit score is now around 750, and we’ll continue monitoring it on Creditkarma, DiscoverCard, and on USAA.

Next month, on his 19th birthday, I’ll publish a 1 year progress report.  The list of bonuses will include cashback, Membership Rewards points, and possibly some Delta Miles.

Jack still has zero consumer and college debt.  Despite the dangers of credit cards, he has always paid his balance in full and has never been charged interest or fees.

How many credit cards can an eighteen year old student get?  At least 5.

As his credit history becomes more substantial, we’re excited about pursuing cards with bigger bonuses.


Posted in Credit cards, credit score.


  1. Both my daughters have one card each, they are really good at paying them on time but I don’t think I would want them to get more as I would be worried they would get overwhelmed (maybe because I do) and not keep track of them all (or actually start using them all!). The fact that we don’t have too many great deals by getting additional cards in Canada probably gives us less of an incentive too.

    • Jack only actually carries and uses two cards in his wallet. He has one card that he is clearing a bonus on, and he is responsible for the bill. He carries a second AU card for my Starwood account only for emergencies and anything I agree to pay for.
      The remaining cards are in an envelope at home. I also have the bank passwords, and occasionally monitor his spending, so that we can discuss budgeting.

  2. Jack is in good shape because you have been overseeing and teaching him smart credit card use for a few years now. It’s all the college kids who don’t have a clue and have credit card offers bombarding them that gets scary! I think that’s how plenty of them leave college with student debt AND credit card debt.

    • Many parents are also bad with credit/money, and then the subject becomes taboo. Ages 14 through 18 are prime years to discuss and learn about money. We see lots of blogger stories about how to dig out of debt. We need more on staying out of debt.

  3. It’s great that you’ve been paying careful attention to Jack’s credit and at the same time teaching him how to be responsible with it. If only more parents would take such a keen interest, we’d have a lot fewer young adults in such deep credit card debt.

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