I think you have to wait until you’re 18, but as soon as you can, get a Checking and savings account in your own name.
Some folks have suggested that you wait until you have both had a solid job and managed your debit cards for at least 2-3 years before applying for your first credit card. I certainly get that and I would say they are right -- unless the folllowing scenario would work for you.
Apply for the secured card you are considering at age 18 or shortly thereafter. Then resolve to ONLY use it for a small purchase once every 3-4 months. The purchase should not only be small but something you actually need: some gas for your car, some groceries, etc. A legitimate alternative would be a small recurring monthly transaction like Netflix -- but ONLY if you are certain that's something you'd buy even if you had no credit cards. Almost all of the time you keep the card out of your wallet and where you cannot see it.
This way you begin building a credit score at age 18 but protect yourself from getting into debt. If this goes well you could consider applying for a second card 13 months after you activate the 1st one. But again, the rules you make for its use should always be the same: only use it for something small and something you really need, keeping it out of your wallet and out of sight.
You should also read the requirements set under the CARD act that apply to consumers under the age of 21 in application for credit cards.
In a nutshell, you must either have a co-signee aged 21 or above, or must show the creditor that you have your own means of financial ability to pay.
My name is Emmanuel, and I am teenager who has been intersted in credit for as long as I could remember.
When I turn 18, I intend to apply for a secured card, and I have been saving for one for about 8 years—I currently have $6,092 saved in my mother's savings account (the money is all mine, by the way). I first started reading about credit and other finance-related subjects at 11, and I am wondering whether the myFICO community can kindly provide me with some personal insights on how not to become a slave to your credit card. (Books can only teach you so much...LOL.)
If you require additional information, please let me know.
P.S. What does "OP" stand for? (I have seen it used in the forums.)
Victoria's Secret Authorized User ($2,050; 12-year-old account), My Children's Place Authorized User ($3,050; 12-year-old account), Sears Mastercard Authorized User ($7,800; 4.5-year-old account), Capital One Bank Authorized User ($1,600; 15-year-old account), Citibank Authorized User ($5,790; 25-year-old account), Chase Rewards Authorized User ($5,500; 15-year-old account), and Shells Gas Card Authorized User ($500; 31-year-old account).
Hi Emmanuel -
"OP" stands for "Original Poster," and refers to the first person who started a thread.
My best advice for you is to start your adult life off with as little to no debt as possible. If you plan to go to college, start the first couple of years at a reasonably priced community college and live at home (if you can), or go to an in-state school rather than paying out-of-state tuition. Get a work-study job on campus. Don't take out $80k in student loans for a job that will pay $24k a year when you graduate. Or join the military and use the GI Bill benefits. Or take a job at a company that offers tuition reimbursement as a benefit and balance a work/school schedule.
When you meet the person of your dreams, resist the temptation to go into debt with a huge wedding. The subject that married couples most often fight about is money, so start with a strong financial foundation and lots of love.
Wishing you luck and happiness!
I think CGID gave the best advice a few posts above. I like the idea of the OP getting a small limit card and using it for a monthly recurring bill such as a gym membership that he's already paying (for example). I get the impression that he's a pretty smart and responsible 17 year old based on the fact that he's been reading about this stuff since the age of 11, is on this forum, has managed to save $6k+, etc. I don't get the impression that the OP would get himself into some sort of crazy trouble should he grab a $500 CL card. It's also worth noting that if he's got $6k+ saved up that he has some sort of income.
My oldest account is a 500 limit personal line of credit for "overdraft protection". It is beautiful, just sits there and reports on time each and every month. As long as my checking account is open there is no risk of AA.
Get in with a good Credit Union. Get a basic card with no annual fee, and a overdraft account. In 20 years you will be happy for having these foundational accounts.
Look up FIRE (financial independence retire early)
Don't waste money on the things you'll soon see all of your friends wasting money on - financed cars, rented apartments full of stuff bought on credit cards, expensive travel, concerts, etc. Skip all of that garbage and start thinking about buying your first house.
Keep your eye on the prize, live cheaply and SAVE SAVE SAVE.
Honestly the credit stuff will all work itself out. Earning, budgeting, saving, and developing good spending habits is way more important.
I am 100% with you!
That's the plan, actually. I am not a big spender, so I will probably charge my cellphone and Netflix on my future cards every month and pay in full so as not to accrue interest.