Can you apply for a credit card with a co-signer?

If you’re applying for a credit card without having a great credit score, adding a co-signer to your account might seem like a good idea. With a co-signer, you may be able to qualify for a line of credit depending on the other person’s strong credit history and credit score. And since your co-signer is also a co-applicant, both parties are responsible for reimbursing any fees or credit balances that accrue.

However, many credit card issuers don’t allow co-signers at all, even on student cards. And finding a co-signer can be a difficult task considering the risk involved when it comes to sharing any type of account.

Keep reading to see which credit card issuers let you apply with a co-signer, and check out additional options to consider if a co-signer is out of the question.

Credit card issuers that allow a co-signer

Among the major credit card issuers, only a few allow you to apply with a co-signer:

Credit card issuer

Authorized co-signer?

Details

American Express

No

Authorized users must be at least 15 years old.

Bank of America

Yes

Barclays

No

Authorized users must be at least 13 years old.

Capital one

No

hunt

No

Town

No

Discover

No

American bank

Yes

Wells Fargo

No


Alternatives to getting a credit card with a co-signer

As you can see, credit card issuers that allow co-signers on new accounts are rare. If you want to have a co-signer, you must start by applying for a card from one of the issuers listed above.

Beyond getting a co-signer, however, there are several other options to consider.

Try to qualify for an unsecured credit card

Although a co-signer can give you a sense of security, it may be possible to qualify for an unsecured credit card on your own. Depending on your credit history, you may be approved immediately, approved after an initial discovery period, or declined for an unsecured credit card.

Since most credit card approvals go to those with good or excellent credit, this can help you know where you stand ahead of time.

If you think your credit score and history may be enough to qualify for a card, you can start shopping for cards to find the best deal. The “right” card is different for everyone, so you need to look for one that matches your spending habits and needs.

Also: The Best Unsecured Credit Cards Available Today

Become an authorized user

If getting a new card with a co-signer is more difficult than you thought, consider becoming an authorized user instead. In this case, you would ask someone – probably the person who was willing to co-sign for you – to add you to an existing credit card account.

This process works the same way as getting a co-signer in that you will be given your own credit card and given the opportunity to create a credit history with all three credit reporting agencies.

The downside to becoming an authorized user is that your responsible use of credit will not increase your score as much as if you were the primary account holder. It also carries a relationship risk similar to that of co-signing: the primary cardholder is solely responsible for refunding whatever you, as the authorized user, charge to the card.

Also: Authorized Users vs. Joint Accounts: What’s the Difference?

While that’s fine if everyone treats credit with respect and responsibility, it could get tricky if you charge more than you can afford and don’t pay back.

Get a secure credit card

If the above options don’t work for you, you can also consider a secured credit card. Unlike unsecured credit cards that extend a line of credit, secured credit cards offer credit in exchange for a cash deposit that serves as security if you don’t pay your bill.

Because it’s less risky for the bank, it’s much easier to qualify for a secured credit card – once you’ve done so, your cash deposit will usually equal your credit limit. So if you deposit $500 on your secured credit card, you can charge up to $500 to your card. With this setup, your cash deposit serves as collateral.

Also: The best secure credit cards for your business

While that might not sound ideal — especially if you don’t have $500 to deposit — secured credit cards offer people with bad credit or a limited credit history the chance to build (or rebuild) a good safe credit. And when you improve your credit score enough, you can usually upgrade your secured credit card or apply for a new, unsecured credit card that better suits your needs.

In any case, you will receive your cash deposit in full as long as you are not in default on your account.

[This article was first published on The Simple Dollar in 2020. It was updated in March 2022.]

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