Over 196 million Americans actively use at least one credit card.
Using a credit card can be your key to building good credit. Good credit can give you the financial foundation you need to get solid rates on auto and home loans.
It can also influence car insurance premiums!
If you are searching for your first credit card, it’s essential to do your research well and wisely.
Knowing your credit needs before selecting a card can also ensure that you make the right decision.
Navigating the many options of first credit cards does not have to be overwhelming. In this post, we discuss the best cards available for first-time users.
Read on for insight!
1. Discover It for Students
Discover offers first-time credit card users a great option with its Discover It card. In fact, it’s designed specifically for students or other individuals without sufficient credit history.
Users don’t have to worry about an annual fee with the Discover It card. They also have the luxury of a relatively low, variable APR, which begins at 14.49%.
First-time users also won’t have to pay interest on balances for the first six months of use!
Students will also appreciate the fact that Discover gives students with GPAs of at least 3.0 a $20 credit card statement for up to five years.
Additionally, Discover It users enjoy 5% cash back on a variety of rewards categories throughout a fiscal year. These categories include restaurants, movies, gas stations, grocery stores, and more.
All other purchases automatically generate 1% cash back.
For this reason, Discover gives first-time credit card users–especially students–a viable means of building credit.
Read our review of the Discover It card here.
If you are interested in Discover It but want a different option, check out the Discover It Secured card.
This card doesn’t have an annual fee and still offers cash back on purchases: 1% on all purchases and 2% on gas stations and restaurant purchases.
This card will also match your first year of cash back, dollar for dollar!
It is a secured card, however, so requires first-time users to submit a refundable deposit to establish a credit line.
2. Capital One Platinum Credit Card
If you’re looking for your first credit card, Capital One may be your answer. Capital One’s Platinum credit card, in particular, is ideal for individuals with poor, average, or no credit history.
Users do not have to pay an annual fee with the Platinum card. Nor do they have to pay foreign transaction fees, making this ideal for students or young adults likely to travel.
Capital One boasts that its users will see a credit score boost within five months of making payments on time!
If you do have to carry a balance with this card, be cautious. The APR is a hefty 24.99% at the moment.
However, cash advances only have a 3% fee (or $10 minimum). You can read our full review of the Capital One Platinum Card here.
3. Citi Thank You Preferred Card
This card is perfect for individuals who are keen to build credit and go out on the town every now and then.
Citi’s Thank You Preferred Card gives users 2 Thank You points per $1 spent on entertainment or dining out. Users earn 1 Thank You point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Users can redeem points for cash back, statement credit, or gift cards from local and national retailers.
This generous card also does not have an annual fee and offers an introductory APR of 0% for the first 15 months of use. After that, users pay a variable APR beginning at 14.99%.
Finally, individuals with fair, damaged, or no credit are all welcome to apply to this card.
4. Citi Secured Mastercard
Citi also has another option for first credit cards. Its Secured MasterCard is best for individuals who are new to the world of credit in general.
What does this mean? Requesting a card is easy, quick, and often successful for most users.
In fact, Citi’s Secured Mastercard is designed to help you build credit the right way. It notifies the credit bureaus every month after bill pay.
The Secured Mastercard does not have an annual fee. Just like other secured cards, it requires a refundable deposit at the time of requesting to establish a credit line. The minimum for this deposit is $200.
While there is no introductory low APR, users pay a variable APR for the rest of the year. This can range to 23.99%.
5. Green Dot Platinum Visa Secured Credit Card
If you are interested in choosing a secured first credit card, Green Dot’s Platinum Visa presents an excellent option. Individuals can pre-qualify for this card without impacting their credit score or history.
You also don’t have to have evidence of a bank account or credit history to request a card. Requesting a Green Dot Platinum Visa often results in a quick decision, and most individuals are granted a card.
The annual fee is $39, but regular APR is rather low, clocking in at 19.99%.
If you are late for your first credit card payment, don’t sweat–Green Dot will waive the late fee.
Just like the other secured cards, you do have to leave a deposit when you request a card to set your line of credit.
6. Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students
If you are a student and new to credit history, Bank of America has your back. Its Cash Rewards for Students card is one of the better cash back cards on the market.
First-time users don’t have to pay interest on balances for 12 billing cycles and there is no annual fee. However, the penalty APR for carried balances is a whopping 29.99%.
This can be a hard nut to swallow for individuals who are just building credit and worried about financial penalties.
Nonetheless, it’s possible to generate a significant amount of cash back by using Bank of America’s student card. Individuals receive 3% cash back on gas and 2% cash back on groceries, categories that most students will likely make use of.
All other purchases generate 1% cash back. Plus, this card often offers users statement credit for spending a certain amount in the first few months of use.
While penalties and fees may be high with this card, it can be a good option for students wishing to build credit and earn rewards at the same time.
7. First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard
First Progress offers users one of the best first credit cards available. In fact, it’s on our list for the best credit cards of 2018.
Why do we love it so much? First Progress does not require individuals to undergo a credit check. This makes it ideal for students or young adults without credit history and people with bad credit in general.
It also has a low annual fee of $39 for users and a remarkable regular APR of 13.99%. Requesting this First Progress Mastercard is also relatively simple; individuals receive an answer typically within minutes or a few business days.
First Progress also does not charge immense fees for cash advances. Users only have to pay a 3% transaction fee (or $10 minimum) for a cash advance.
Your credit card limit is secured with a refundable deposit of at least $200 submitted at the time of requesting a card. The maximum limit is $2000.
7. OpenSky Secured Visa
Here at Bonsai Finance, we love OpenSky’s secured visa, designed especially for individuals with poor or no credit history.
It’s a solid choice for first-time credit card users, as it does not require applicants to undergo a credit check. It does have an annual fee, but this is a manageable $35. Open Sky does not require a one-time initiation fee or monthly fees.
This secured Visa enables users to build credit in as few as six months. Open Sky reports to all three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax).
The APR for this credit card is also relatively forgiving, as APRs go. The maximum penalty APR is 22%, and cash advance APR is 18%.
We like the fact that Open Sky is committed to its own community of credit card users. Users are welcome to join their Facebook group to get questions answered and share positive experiences.
The Best First Credit Card: Final Thoughts
Choosing your first credit card is an exciting endeavor. However, because there are endless options for first-time cards, it’s essential to take your time and do your research.
Consulting family members and friends can also be helpful as you make your decision. Keep your future plans in mind, too, such as your plans to travel or pursue education. These can help you choose rewards credit cards that suit your needs.
Lastly, understand how credit works. The key to building credit is knowledge. Once you do select your first credit card, it’s critical to use it wisely and build credit the right way.
All of the cards on this list are ideal for first-time credit card users. Your choice will depend upon your desire for a secured or unsecured card, ability to pay an annual fee, and cash back interests.
At Bonsai Finance, we can help you decide which first credit card is best for you. In fact, we are committed to all of our clients’ financial success!
Reach out to start a conversation now.