Best Starter Credit Cards | Money


While about three-quarters of consumers have a credit card, there are still a lot of people who want their first card. This includes everyone from college students and other young adults to recent immigrants and even those who just wanted to avoid credit cards until now. Here are the 5 best starter cards to consider for those ready to start using credit.

  • Discover it® Student Cash Back Card. Best card for students.
  • Capital One Platinum Mastercard®. Best starter card for adults new to credit.
  • Citi® Double Cash. Best starter card for those with excellent credit.
  • Capital One Secured Mastercard®. Best starter card for people with credit problems.
  • Hunt Unlimited Freedom®. Best departure card for travelers.

Best starter card for students: Discover it® Student Cash Back Card

The Discover it Student Cash Back Card is a great way for students to start using credit.


  • 5% cash back on purchases from select merchants and merchant categories that change quarterly.
  • Earn $ 20 credit for each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for the next five years.
  • Excellent reputation for customer service.
  • No annual fee.

The inconvenients:

  • Discover offers few benefits to cardholders.
  • The Discover card is not widely accepted in some countries.

The Discover it Student Cash Back Card is a great choice for a student getting their first credit card. This is because it is a low cost card that comes from a company known for their user friendly policies and service. There is no annual fee, no penalty interest rate, and your first late fees are automatically waived.

This card also offers 5% cash back up to $ 1,500 spent quarterly on purchases from specific merchants and merchant categories, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The Discover Card will even match the cash back you earn in the first year of your account.

Best Starter Card With No Credit History: Capital One Platinum Mastercard®

Capital One offers its Platinum Mastercard adults who are new to credit. It’s a simple card that offers solid benefits.


  • Available for those with fair credit.
  • Capital One offers automatic credit limit reviews, so you can be considered for a higher credit limit in as little as six months.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No annual fee.

The inconvenients:

  • No rewards offered.
  • High standard interest rate.

Here’s a simple card from an established card issuer that you can qualify for without any credit history. And while you will likely receive a small line of credit, Capital One will automatically assess you for a larger line of credit in as little as six months. It doesn’t offer any rewards, but then again, there are also no annual fees or foreign transaction fees.

Best starter card for great credit: Citi® Double Cash

the Citi Double Cash is a strong yet simple rewards card that is an ideal first card for adults who have already established their credit history by paying off other loans such as mortgages, auto loans, and student loans.


  • Earn twice cash back on all your purchases, no limit.
  • Cash back is easy to redeem in the form of statement credit, direct deposit, check; or convert to points.
  • 18 months of 0% APR financing on balance transfers.
  • No annual fee.

The inconvenients:

  • You need an established credit history to be approved.
  • 3% foreign transaction fees.

This card is a smart choice for those who are new to credit, plan to pay off their balance in full, and want an easy way to earn money. It offers 1% cash back at the time of purchase and an additional 1% cash back when you pay for your purchases, for a total of up to 2% cash back on all unlimited purchases. There is no annual fee for this card.

Best starter for poor credit: Capital One Secured Mastercard®

You will need to start with a secured credit card if you have serious credit problems. Capital One’s offer is unique in that it can give you a higher credit limit than your deposit.


  • A minimum refundable security deposit of $ 49, $ 99 or $ 200 gives you an initial line of credit of up to $ 200.
  • Automatically considered for a higher line of credit in as little as six months.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No annual fee.

The inconvenients:

  • You must submit a refundable deposit from an authorized bank account.
  • High standard interest rate.

If you have bad credit, you can still receive a secured card like this which requires a refundable deposit. But after that, you can use the card just like any other credit card. Capital One’s product is unique in that you may receive a credit limit greater than the amount of your deposit. Plus, you’ll enjoy many of the same features and benefits that Capital One offers to all of its cardholders.

Best Starter Card for Travel: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card is a simple rewards card that offers very important travel benefits.


  • Includes valuable benefits such as extended warranty protection and trip cancellation / interruption coverage.
  • Earn 3% Bonus Cash Back on restaurant and drugstore purchases, and 5% on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Earn 1.5% Cash Back on all other qualifying purchases.
  • No annual fee.

The inconvenients:

  • Requires good credit history.
  • 3% foreign transaction fees.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee, while also offering several important travel benefits. When you use your card to pay for a rental car, you will be covered by its collision damage waiver policy. And if you need to interrupt or cancel your trip for a covered reason, you can be reimbursed up to $ 1,500 per person and $ 6,000 per trip.

This card gives you 1.5% cash back on all purchases, as well as opportunities to earn bonus cash back on restaurant and drugstore purchases, and travel booked through Chase. New applicants receive a $ 200 cash back bonus after spending only $ 500 in the first three months of opening the account.

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A credit repair business could improve your chances of getting approved.

Credit repair companies, like Credit Saint, specialize in finding and fixing errors on your report to help you improve your credit.


Frequently Asked Questions About Starter Credit Cards:

Q. What should I look for in a starter credit card? Your first credit card should be simple and inexpensive. You will need a card from an established card issuer with a reputation for good customer service. When looking for your first credit card, you don’t need to get involved in the complex reward programs offered by airline and hotel credit cards.

Q. Do I have to pay an annual fee with my first credit card? No, there are a lot of great no-fee cards out there, so there’s no reason to pay an annual fee. Premium cards that charge an annual fee tend to have complex rewards programs and, ironically, higher interest rates.

Q. Can I get a credit card? Many people can benefit from a credit card with little or no credit history. However, if you have a bad credit history, you will need to apply for a secured card, which requires payment of a refundable security deposit before you can open an account.

Q. What’s the best way to use a starter credit card to build credit? To create credit, you should only use a small portion of your line of credit at any one time. A lot of people think you should be using less than 30% of your available credit, but that’s no magic number. You can save money by paying off your monthly statement balance in full, which will help you avoid debt and interest charges. Most importantly, always make your payments on time. To simplify this process, consider enabling automatic payment.

How we chose the best starter cards

To find the best starter cards, we first split the market into five most popular card types. Next, we looked at the starter credit cards offered by all of the major card issuers. Each of their starter credit card offers has been reviewed and compared to other starter cards. We took a look at how easy it was to get approved for the card, how straightforward the terms and conditions were, and how valuable the benefits were.

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About Nereida Nystrom

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