A first credit card is a big decision. If you are getting your first time credit card, you probably don’t have an extensive credit history, if you have one at all.
That gives you a limited set of cards to get started, but you do have some good options to help you build credit at a very low cost. If you do things right, you can use many credit cards without paying a cent in fees.
Your first credit card helps you build a solid credit foundation you can utilize for decades. Perfect credit can help you qualify for the best credit cards, mortgage rates, and even saves you from putting down a deposit when signing up for a new cell phone plan.
Making mistakes with your credit, particularly a first credit card, can lead to a bad credit score that does the opposite of those great things above. Bad credit can even prevent you from getting a job in some cases. Always pay your bill on time and in full each month to avoid interest charges. Avoid fee-bearing activity like cash advances and balance transfers and you may never have to pay any fees or charges for your credit card.
Here are some common questions people ask when looking for their first credit card. Make sure to consider all of the ins and outs to choose the best first credit card.
The best first credit cards for young adults are often student cards or similar. Based on Faveable research the best first credit card for young adults is the Citi Double Cash card, which offers an effective 2% cash back with no annual fee.
Any card with no annual fee and a low interest rate is a good choice for a first credit card. Options are limited with a little or no credit history, so you may just have to take what you can get from your own bank to get started. You can always get better cards later on with a higher credit score and longer credit history.
The easiest cards to get approved for are secured credit cards. Many secured cards are available with no credit check required. While they do help you build your credit, there are a few important nuances to consider when choosing a secured credit card.
First, secured credit cards require you to put down a deposit equal to your credit line in most cases. That means for a $1,000 credit limit, you would have to put down a $1,000 refundable deposit. Second, most secured cards carry hefty fees, so they are not always good cards for the long-term. The secured Mastercard from Capital One is one of the best secured credit cards.
The best credit card to start is the Citi Double Cash, according to Faveable research. Other great options include Barclays Ring and Chase Freedom. For secured cards, consider the Capital One Secured Mastercard.
When reviewing your options, be on the lookout for annual fees. While someone with little or no credit history may only qualify for high interest rates, you can avoid interest by paying off the card in full each month. That also helps build your credit. You can’t avoid annual fees if a card charges them, so you should try to find a card with no annual fee for your first credit card.
In most cases, you can get your first credit card by applying online. Review any of the top credit card lists here at Faveable, then click the card you like to reach the issuer’s website. Plan to fill out a brief application including personal information.
Included in a credit card application, you’ll need to give over your social security, annual income, and addresses for the last couple of years. Make sure you have that handy so your application doesn’t time out part way through.
The best way to start building credit is with a credit card! The key to success is keeping your balance low, paying 100% on-time, and keeping accounts open as long as possible. That is why it is best to use a no annual fee card as your first credit card.
There is a common myth that you should carry a balance each month to build your credit score. This is false! If you can’t keep your spending under control, you may be best off leaving the credit card in the back of a desk drawer and only using it for a small purchase a few times per year, paying it off in full immediately after.
The best starting point to build credit if you don’t have any credit today is with your first credit card. Secured cards work well for people with bad credit or no credit, but even with no credit you may qualify for a student-focused card that has no annual fee. That would be the ideal way to get started with credit cards.
You don’t always have to be a college student to qualify for a student credit card.
When you don’t have a credit history, your credit will come up as unscorable. There is no starting credit score for all new credit users. Credit scores range from 350 to 850. Getting an 800+ credit score takes years of perfect on-time payments, but you can start with a good credit score as long as you pay on time and keep credit card balances low.
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 April 16, 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.