How Old Do You Need To Be To Apply For a Credit Card In South Africa?

Are you looking to get a credit card as a minor at the young ages of 17, 15, or even 13? If yes, then hold fast!

According to the National Credit Act 34 of 2005, you need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card in South Africa. However, according to this law, emancipated minors may apply for credit.

Keep reading to find out precisely what an emancipated minor is, and if you fall into this category.

Are You An ‘Emancipated Minor’?

Well, the short answer is no. The law doesn’t just see you as an emancipated minor; you need to go through a legal process of getting emancipated from your parents or any legal guardians. Once done, then legally, you’ll be able to get credit.

Before we dive into how you can get emancipated, your first need to understand precisely what emancipated means.

What does ’emancipated minor’ mean?

An emancipated minor is a minor (anyone under 18 years old in South Africa) that legally breaks ties or becomes liberated from a guardian or parents. In the eyes of the law, once you’ve been emancipated you’ll be viewed as a major (adult.)

So, in a nutshell, it simply means that you’ll be seen as an independent or as an adult.

Scenarios where minors choose to become emancipated?

There a dozens of reasons why minors choose to be emancipated, here are the most commong reasons.

  • A minor chose to get married, and you’re married in the eyes of the law in South Africa.
  • If your parents have kicked you out of your house.
  • If your parents are abusive, or you have moral obligations that go against how they choose to live, and you’ve decided to leave.
  • If you’re financially dependent on your parents.

Requirements to become emancipated in South Africa

The court used to have stringent requirements before you could become emancipated. However, today, they take it case by case. That said, here are some requirements that are generally considered in court:

  • Do you have permission from your guardians?
  • Do you live on your own?
  • What’s your relationship with your parents?
  • How independent are you from your parents?

Remember, the court would like to see that you’re capable of looking after yourself efficiently.

How to become emancipated in South Africa?

If you’re ready to take the leap and get emancipated from your guardians in South Africa, then you’ll need to contact a certified lawyer in South Africa, and they’ll talk you through the process. To learn more about the emancipated in South Africa, click here.

What Age Should You Apply For a Credit Card?

There’s a lot of negativity around credit and a lot of people might suggest that you should never apply for a credit card. However, if you have discipline then I think otherwise.

You should apply for a credit card as soon as possible, which is generally when you turn 18 years old in South Africa. The sooner you apply for a credit card, the sooner you can build a solid credit record, which can really help your lifestyle if used responsibly.

That said, I must stress the importance of using credit responsibly. If you get ahead of yourself and use more credit than you can pay back, you could do more harm to your credit record than good.

To bring the point home, a single missed payment on a credit card, store account, or even a cellphone contract could result in a penalty that could stay on your credit report for up to 7 years!

A good credit record takes years to be built; however, it can be destroyed in just a single day.

How to Build a Credit Record as a Young Adult

As a young adult, you’ll start with NOTHING on your credit record, which can be a good thing. It means you have that fresh start that many people wish they could have again. So since you’re in this position, use it wisely!

The only drawback? It’ll probably be challenging getting your first credit card, so here are some ways you can get some history on your credit record so that you’ll get APPROVED when you do finally apply for a credit card.

  • Get added as a secondary user on an existing credit card. If you don’t have a job, get your guardians to add you as a secondary user on one of their credit cards. This will get your credit record started.
  • Open a store account. If you do have a job, start building a credit record by getting a store account, and use it! Buy a few hundred rands of clothes, but make sure you pay it back immediately. And make sure you don’t buy more than you can payback.
  • Open a savings account and start saving. Lenders look at how risky you are based on how dire your situation is. The less you need the credit, the better it looks on your credit history. A great way to do this is to save as much money as possible.
  • Get an affordable cellphone contract. And I must emphasize AFFORDABLE. The last thing you need is a missed payment this early in the game.

These are just a few ways you can build a credit record…

…so make sure you take a deeper look into my guide on how to build and maintain a solid credit record in South Africa for more gems on how to build a solid credit record quickly.

3 Best Credit Cards For Young Adults In South Africa

Once you’ve got the ball rolling using some of the methods I mentioned above, it’s time to apply for your first credit card finally.

Getting your first credit card is usually the most difficult because, as mentioned before, you simply don’t have a credit history that lenders can look at to make a decision.

That said, make the decision as easy as possible for them.

Here are some ways you can increase your chances of success when applying for a credit card for the first time:

  • Go for credit cards that accept a minimum monthly income amount that is much lower than your current salary. For example, if you earn R4000 per month, instead, go for a credit card that requires a minimum of R2000 per month. This will drastically increase your chances of success.
  • If you work, have your latest three months of payslips ready.
  • Apply for credit cards that offer very little credit. Once you start building your credit record, then you can look at increasing this later down the line.
  • Apply for a prepaid credit card. If you have no income at all, you could apply for prepaid credit cards instead.
  • Have as much savings in your savings account as possible. Remember, the less desperate you seem, the more likely you’ll get approved for credit.

Once you’ve gone through those points, choose one of the credit cards below.

I literally spent hours comparing 21 credit cards in South Africa in this post here, and I summarized the best options tailored to young adults that have a low income in South Africa below.

01. Absa Flexi Core Credit Card (Lowest Income Required)

This credit card has an extremely low monthly maintenance fee of only R14, and you only need to earn R2,000 per month which is possible for almost any beginner in South Africa.

You’ll get access of up to R90,000 credit, but this obviouslly will depend on how much the bank trusts you.

A few nice little benefits that come with this credit card; you’ll get access to Visa airport dining, free basic travel insurance, and you’ll get free interest if you pay back your credit balance within 57 days of use.

Follow this link to learn more or apply for a Absa Flexi Core Credit Card.

02. Absa Gold Credit Card

This credit card also has a low monthly maintanence fee of R23, however your income needed is quite a lot steeper at R4,000 per month. If you earn anything close to this I highly recommend going for the credit card above instead.

This credit card comes also comes with up to R90,000 credit, however again, this depends on your credit score.

The benefits include, Bidvest airport lounge access, free travel insurance, Visa airport dining as well as basic travel insurance.

Follow this link to learn more or apply for a Absa Gold Credit Card.

03. Nedbank Classic Credit Card

The third card on my list has a more expensive monthly fee of R40 per month, and a minimum monthly income of R5,000 which is slightly higher than #2 on my list.

The credit limit on this card isn’t specified, mainly because it depends on your personal credit history.

There aren’t many benefits that come with this card, apart from 55-day interest-free, and basic travel insurance. That said, you can’t expect many benefits with low-income credit cards however ABSA seems to have gone the extra mile when it comes to this.

Follow this link to learn more or apply for a Nedbank Classic Credit Card.

These are just three of the lowest income needed cards out of 21 credit cards that I reviewed here, so if you would like to see more options then make sure you follow that link.

Final Thoughts

Getting a credit card for the first time can be an exciting journey, however make sure you follow my tips and do it right the first time.

Few links that I think you might find interesting:

Your Turn

Do you feel like I missed anything important? Do you know of better ways a minor can get a credit card? Let us know in the comments below so we can start learning from each other.

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