After 20 hours of research evaluating 65 products, we picked Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card as our top choice.
It can be overwhelming to apply for your first credit card. Responsible credit use is difficult for most, including those that have been using them for a long time. According to NerdWallet, the average household in 2016 has $16,883 in credit card debt, with U.S. households owing a total debt of $784 billion.
Applying for your first credit card will set the tone for credit card use over your entire life. For best results, choose a credit card that rewards good behavior, and forgives first-time instances of bad behavior while you get use to the idea of using a credit card.
Here’s the deal:
The best first credit card will help you to build your credit score, which is important when you want to apply for a mortgage, an apartment, or even car financing.
Established credit card users have tons of options when it comes to cash back credit cards, travel rewards credit cards, and more. But for those just starting to build credit, the options are a lot more limited. You'll want to pay attention specifically to starter credit cards if you can classify yourself as such:
If you're opening a credit card for the very first time, it's important to think about responsible credit card use. A failure to follow these important credit card money mantras will hurt your ability to build a great credit score:
Here's the Bottom Line:
There are 200+ choices in the market today, so it can be confusing to choose the perfect one for your situation. Luckily, we've already done the research for you with regards to top cards and their major pros and cons.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated October 11, 2019 but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
Application Process: Apply online and pay the required security deposit - either $49, $99, or $200. This is a refundable deposit based on your credit history.
Rewards: No rewards - this is just a basic credit card designed to help you repair or establish credit.
Bonus offers: There are no bonus offers, but cardholders have the chance to increase their credit line after 5 consecutive on-time payments.
Annual fee: None.Details:Capital One Secured Credit Card »
Application Process: Apply online and get a response within 60 seconds.
Rewards: Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your rewards rate to 1.25%.
Bonus Offers: None
Annual Fee: None.Details:Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® »
Application Process: Apply online and get a response within 60 seconds. A Social Security number isn't required, but you will need:
Rewards: A flat rate of 1% cash back on all purchases.
Bonus Offers: Use your Deserve Edu card to sign up for an Amazon Prime Student subscription and get reimbursed up to a lifetime total of $49.
Annual Fee: None.Details:Deserve Edu Mastercard »
Application Process: Apply online, and get a decision within 60 seconds or less.
Bonus Offers: None.
APR: 24.74% variable.
Annual Fee: $39.Details:Deserve Classic Mastercard »
Application Process: Apply online and get a response in 60 seconds.
Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on rotating categories such as Amazon.com, transportation, restaurants and more, for up to $1,500 spending per quarter with 1% cash back on all other categories.
Bonus Offers: Discover will match all the cash back you earn in your first year dollar for dollar. You'll also get $20 cash back each year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for the next five years.
Annual Fee: None.Details:Discover it® for Students »
Travelers will appreciate that there are no foreign transaction fees associated with this credit card. Everyone will appreciate that you don’t have to be purposeful to collect your rewards, as the Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card offers a flat, unlimited 1.5% cash back rate on all purchases.
If you’re new to the world of credit cards, this card might be your perfect match. But if you’re a little more of an experienced user, you can certainly find higher percent cash back credit cards for a small annual fee that will likely be more than justified. A related example? The Capital One Spark Cash for Business credit card. Additionally, you may be interested in using one of the best Capital One credit cards for balance transfers... until you find out that it comes with a 3% balance transfer fee.
Application Process: Apply online just as you would with the other best Capital One credit cards on this list.
Annual Fee: Absolutely no annual fees! Definitely a perk of this credit card.
Rewards and Redemption Options: It’s very simple: earn an unlimited flat rate of 1.5% cash back, which does not expire. You can redeem this cash back as a statement credit or cheque.
Bonus Offers: Just about anyone using this credit card will earn a $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases within 3 months of account opening.Details:Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card »