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Graduation Time? Best Credit Card for an 18-Year-Old High School Student

flik eco finance personal best credit card for an 18 year old high school student

High School senior time! Colleges! Jobs! Other guys and girls! Adulthood! Debt! A terrible credit score!

 Wait. Crap. Those last two. Ignore those. 

 Okay, don't ignore those...but don't run dive into them. Here's the truth: Credit card debt can put someone so far back in their financial lives that it can be impossible to dig out. Fortunately, with the right training, any young adult can prepare for the financial real world. This means starting early, and this is one of the many reasons that a credit card for an 18-year-old high school student is absolutely a good idea. Here's more info on why. 

Best Credit Card for an 18-Year-Old High School Student Table of Contents

What Is a Credit Card for an 18-Year-Old High School Student?

Who Should Get a Student Credit Card?

What Can You Use a Credit Card for an 18-Year-Old High School Student For?

What To Look for in a Credit Card for an 18-Year-Old High School Student?

The Best Credit Cards for an 18-Year-Old High School Student

How To Properly Use a Credit Card for an 18-Year-Old High School Student

What Is a Credit Score?

What Is a Credit Report?

What Are Some Alternatives to a Student Credit Card?

Secured Credit Card

Student Loans

Prepaid Student Credit Cards

Authorized User Status on a Parents' Credit Card

What Is a Credit Card for an 18-Year-Old High School Student?

An 18-year-old high school student credit card is a credit card specifically designed for young student who is just starting out their financial lives. They are often the perfect credit card for an 18-year-old high school student, as they have low limits, high notification options, and the ability to help a student learn how to manage credit.

 They usually come with a few features, including:

  • Having a parent co-sign the card, meaning they are responsible for your debt if you default (don't do that!). 
  • Having parental notification options.
  • Financial literacy and education options.

Who Should Get a Student Credit Card?

Everyone who can.

 No. Seriously.

Look, a student credit card can be a fantastic thing for your financial future. This is because of the way that credit scores work. Credit scores are three-digit scores that can basically run your financial life. They determine how good of a financial risk you are for lenders and credit card companies. Building a strong credit score isn't hard: You have to open credit accounts, use credit cards, and constantly pay back your debt on time.

One of the critical factors in determining your credit score is your credit history. The older your oldest card is — and if you have a good history of paying the debt back — the better your credit score.

In other words, get a credit card now and use it to start building an excellent credit score.

What Can You Use a Credit Card for an 18-Year-Old High School Student For?

There are a couple of potential answers here, and it depends on the type of credit card that you get.

 On the one hand, some student credit cards have no limits in terms of where you can use them. Of course, they will have credit limits, but that doesn't mean that they are limited about where you can use the card.

 On the other hand, many parents or guardians maintain strict control over the credit card of an 18-year-old high school student. They may limit categories of spending or where a card can be spent. These limits can be placed on the card, meaning that the cardholder won't be able to spend money anywhere that they choose.

What To Look for in a Credit Card for an 18-Year-Old High School Student?

A good credit card for an 18-year-old high school student will come with a few options, including: 

  • A reasonable APR, or interest rate, ensuring that a student doesn't get destroyed by high interest rates on credit card payments.
  • Options for parents or guardians to keep an eye on spending, input spending limits, and make payments in the event of an emergency.
  • Credit limit expansions if a student makes good payments. Ideally, a student credit card will transition into a "full" credit card — without the parental limits — once they get old enough.
  • Rewards! Even students can get credit card rewards. This may include points, miles, or more. 

The Best Credit Cards for an 18-Year-Old High School Student

Credit card companies loooooooove to give out credit cards to 18-year-old high school students. Why? Well, they can hook you. They view these cards as marketing opportunities that can be used by a student for their entire life. That's why there are so many different options. Here are five of the best credit cards for 18-year-old high school students:

 Chase Freedom Student

The Chase Freedom Student card is perfect for a student who is just starting to build credit. It gives a few cash bonuses (including $50 three months after your first purchase), annual rewards, and 1% cashback, and will increase your credit score as you make good payments. There is no annual fee and a reasonable 14.99% interest rate.

Bank of America Travel Card for Students

The Bank of America Travel Card for Students is geared toward students who want to get off of their butts and travel. Make $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of opening the card, and you'll get 25,000 online points that you can use to travel. You will earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend, and there is no annual fee. It has two interest rates: an introductory one that is 0% for the first 15 billing cycles, then a rate between 14.24% and 24.24%. 

CapitalOne Savor One

The SavorOne is a nice general card for students interested in earning rewards and maybe not traveling. You can get 3% cashback on select services (dining, entertainment, streaming services, and groceries), and 1% back on everything else. There is no annual fee, although the APR is pretty high at 27.24%. 

 Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards for Students

This Bank of America card is geared toward students who want rewards and are just starting to build credit, but are not as interested in travel. You can get 1.5% cashback on all of your purchases and a $200 cash bonus after you make your first $1,000 in purchases within 90 days. Again, no annual fee, but also again, interest rates range from 14.24% to 24.24%. 

CapitalOne Quicksilver Rewards for Students

Here's another CapitalOne card for students. Unlike the SavorOne, this has different rewards: 1.5% on all purchases. You can redeem these rewards in any number of ways. Unfortunately, like the Savor, the interest rate is 27.24%. The good news? Make the payments on time, and you won't have to worry about the interest rate. 

How To Properly Use a Credit Card for an 18-Year-Old High School Student

Here's the thing: A student using a credit card can be fantastic. It can set a student on the path toward having a great credit score. It can also absolutely screw you if you do it wrong. 

Pay the Balance in Full Every Month

The cheapest student interest rate is around 15%. This is a high number! Want to avoid paying that? Easy: Just pay your full balance every month, and you'll never get hit with an interest rate.

Never Spend More Than Your Credit Limit

Don't approach your credit limit, either. Having too high a debt ratio can hurt your credit score. It also creates bad habits: You always want to leave flexibility in your debt. 

Use It!

Repeat after me: Credit is your friend! The only way that you are going to get a good credit score — something that is necessary for your financial health — is to regularly use your credit card. Don't go nuts, obviously, but when you go out and eat, use it! Then, set up autopay so that you pay your full bill every month. Do that, and you're laying the groundwork for an excellent financial future.

What Is a Credit Score?

Ahhh, the credit score. The three-digit number that will dominate your financial life. 

Your credit score is what determines how much of a financial risk you are to lenders. This score will impact your ability to get a mortgage, car loan, credit card, and more. 

 The keyword here is risk. If you are a low risk, a bank will look at you and think, "Oh, yay! I can lend that person money and know they will pay it back! Let's give them a lower interest rate, one that will enable me to make a profit since that person will pay me back."

 High credit risk? Then, the bank thinks, "Hmmm...this person is sketchy. I'll lend them money, but since they are a higher risk, I'm gonna whack them with higher interest rates. This way, I can make the risk I'm going to incur worth it."

Your credit score is determined by multiple factors, including:

Payment History

Make your payments on time? Don't have late payments? Your credit score will rise!

Debt Utilization

How much of the overall debt load do you use? Lower debt utilization means a higher score.

Credit History

How long have you had credit cards? How old is your oldest card?

Credit Mix

Having numerous loans is a good thing! You WANT a healthy mix of credit and loans, including student loans, revolving (credit) debt, a mortgage, and more.

Hard Inquiries

When you apply for a new loan or credit card, it dings your credit score. It's usually a minor hit and goes away quickly, but it can add up if you apply over and over for new credit cards.

What Is a Credit Report?

Your credit report is a comprehensive financial document that basically lays know, everything...about your financial history. It contains your personal and financial information, including who you owe money to and whether or not you have ever had any major financial problems in your life.

 You can request a free copy of your credit report. This is a good idea, as it can allow you to make sure that all of the information is accurate, that you don't owe money to anybody you've forgotten about, and that no one else has opened a credit card or loan in your name. 

What Are Some Alternatives to a Student Credit Card?

By now, you should get it: A credit card for an 18-year-old high school student can be a great thing. However, there are other options to help high school students learn how to manage their finances or handle their financial future. These include:

Secured Credit Card

Let me introduce you to the superhero of credit cards, the Secured Credit Card. You see, this isn't your run-of-the-mill credit card. This card comes pre-loaded with your own money, kind of like a prepaid phone card, but for money.

The cash you put on the card acts as your financial bodyguard, securing your credit card against any mishaps. If you get a bit too swipe-happy and can't keep up with the payments, your card says, "No problemo! I've got this," and the money is taken straight from the card itself. Handy, right?

If your credit's taken a few knocks, or if you're fresh on the credit scene with no credit history to speak of, this card's got your back. And hey, if you're an 18-year-old high schooler trying to make your way into the world of credit, this is your perfect match. Think of the Secured Credit Card as your trusty sidekick, always there to help you navigate the twists and turns of credit land.

Student Loans

Massive expenses — like tuition, rent, or regular living expenses — can't be covered by a credit card. Student loans are more appropriate here, and they are more common for someone who is attending college. Of course, student loans can be massive financial burdens, but they are usually manageable for students who graduate college and have an income later down the line.

Prepaid Student Credit Cards

Many student credit cards are specifically designed for high school students who are just starting out. These cards can be used by parents or guardians to help a kid get started financially. 

Authorized User Status on a Parents' Credit Card

Many parents will just get a kid their own credit card on their account. This allows a student to use credit cards. The holder of the card is ultimately responsible for making payments. The good news — and the bad news — is that this can impact your credit score. It can be great if the payments or made on time! Payments not made on time? Yeah, this can be a problem for you. 

Share this article if you know someone thinking of getting a credit card

There's good news for high school students who are interested in getting a credit card: There are a lot of options in terms of credit cards for 18-year-old high school students. If they use their credit card right, they can start to not only learn financial independence but build a good credit score that can help them later down the line. Of course, the reverse is also true: Act like a financial gnome, and you will have a credit score that is similarly small — and one that will unquestionably hurt you in life!

 Know anyone who can benefit from this information? Don't keep it to yourself — Send them this article!


About Jermaine Hagan (The Plantsman)

Jermaine Hagan, also known as The Plantsman is the Founder of Flik Eco. Jermaine is the perfect hybrid of personal finance expert and nemophilist. On a mission to make personal finance simple and accessible, Jermaine uses his inside knowledge to help the average Joe, Kwame or Sarah to improve their lives. Before founding Flik Eco, Jermaine managed teams across several large financial companies, including Equifax, Admiral Plc, New Wave Capital & HSBC. He has been featured in several large publications including BBC, The Guardian & The Times.

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