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    When can you get a credit card?

    Date: 07.07.09 | by Judge Tom.

    As you know, you must be 18 to vote, join the military, serve on a jury, or get married without a parent or guardian’s consent. You have to be 21 to buy alcohol, and there are similar age restrictions on gambling and buying cigarettes.

    You now need a parent or guardian to co-sign in order to obtain a credit card if you’re under 21. The co-signer must also have a good credit history. If you can prove that you’re independent and have sufficient income to cover the credit card debt you incur, then a co-signer isn’t necessary. A new federal law called the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act was passed in May, 2009 and went into effect in February, 2010.

    Photo by Eliazar (Flickr)

    The Act is the result of Congress’s concern over young adults with mounting debt. 84% of undergraduates have at least one credit card, with an average balance of $2,200.00 for educational expenses, not including tuition. The Act is designed to prevent credit card companies from targeting college students with ‘plastic’ before they enter the workforce.

    The Act also prohibits excessive fees, raising interest rates without warning, and penalizing customers who pay their bills on time.

    You can read a summary of the Credit Card Accountability Act or the full text here.  

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    1 Comment subscribe to these comments.

    • Aless
      Sun, 18 Oct 2009 at 05:18

      I disagree with this. Aren’t we supposed to be adults at eighteen? The age for freedom keeps being pushed back, I won’t be surprised if soon we don’t become adults until we’ve 21.