Best First Credit Card for First-Timers

Here's how to find the best starter credit card for you.

When you’re looking for your first credit card, the choices can feel overwhelming. And if you don’t have much of a credit history, you might be concerned about getting approved. There are credit cards well suited for young adults in situations like that, and here are five of the best reward credit card offers now available.

Best first-time credit cards:

Discover it Chrome Student Card

  • Best for: Smart students
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Main benefit: First-year cash back is matched
  • APR: 0% for six months, then 14.74% – 23.74%, variable
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Cash back: 1 percent to 2 percent

If you’re a student looking for your first credit card, or are looking for one of the best credit cards for young adults, this could be a good choice. You can earn 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchase per quarter and 1 percent everywhere else. All the cash back you earn in the first year is matched. And every year (up to five years) that your GPA is 3.0 or higher, you get a $20 statement credit.

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Learn More: 10 Best Student Credit Cards

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Best for: Bank of America customers
  • Sign-up bonus: $200 when you charge at least $500 in the first 90 days
  • Main benefit: 10 percent bonus on cash rewards deposited into your bank account
  • APR: 0% for the first 12 billing cycles, then 14.99% to 24.99% APR, variable.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Cash back: 1 percent to 3 percent

If you already have a checking or savings account at Bank of America, this card might be a good choice for you. When you redeem your cash back rewards into your bank account, you get a 10 percent bonus. So, $20 in rewards means a $22 deposit to your checking or savings account. You can get 1 percent cash back on every purchase, 2 percent on grocery store and wholesale club purchases, and 3 percent on gas. The higher rewards are limited to $2,500 in combined purchases per quarter.

Related: Bank of America Credit Card Comparison

Capital One QuicksilverOne

  • Best for: People who want to build credit
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Main benefit: Get a credit line increase after five on-time payments
  • APR: 24.99% variable APR
  • Annual fee: $39
  • Cash back: 1.5 percent cash back on everything with no limits
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The QuicksilverOne card is good if you have no credit established — no student loans, utility payments or other credit history. If you get accepted with a small credit line, Capital One can increase it after you make five on-time payments. You also get a mobile app to manage your account and view your balance and transactions. You can monitor your credit with CreditWise, and Eno can manage your account by text.

Citi Double Cash Card

  • Best for: People who want cash back
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Main benefit: 1 percent cash back on purchases, 1 percent when you pay them off
  • APR: 13.99% to 23.99%, variable
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Cash back: 2 percent total once you pay off your purchases

The Citi Double Cash Card pays you 1 percent cash back when you make a purchase and another 1 percent when you pay that purchase off. There are no cash back limits. You also get special access to presale tickets and VIP packages to concerts and sporting events with Citi Entertainment. The Double Cash Card is also one of the best cards if you have good credit.

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Blue Cash Everyday From American Express

  • Best for: Combined offers
  • Sign-up bonus: $150 when you charge $1,000 in the first three months
  • Main benefit: Cash back, sign up bonus, intro 0% APR
  • APR: 0% for the first 15 months, then 13.99% to 24.99% APR
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Cashback: 1 percent to 3 percent

The Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express has the best combination of offers — learn more about this card. You get 15 months of no interest plus a $150 statement credit when you charge $1,000 in the first three months. You also get 3 percent cash back at supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases), 2 percent at gas stations and select department stores in the U.S. and 1 percent on everything else. Cash back is a statement credit, though — you won’t receive a check or an account deposit.

Bottom Line: You Can Use These Cards to Build Credit

If you’ve never had a credit card, try one of these to start building a credit history. Charge only what you can pay off and make sure all of your payments are on time. That’s the best way to get — and keep — a strong credit score.

Earn More Perks From Your Credit Card

More on Credit Card Advice

GOBankingRates identified the best credit cards for first-timers by analyzing purchase APRs, rewards and offers. All fees and rates are subject to change at the credit card issuers’ discretion, and some bonus offers might no longer be available on the credit card issuers’ websites, depending on how you access the web page.

GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest rate website owned by ConsumerTrack, Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions, and other financial services organizations. Some companies mentioned in this article might be clients of ConsumerTrack, Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings and roundups are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the companies included in the article.

About the Author

Karen Doyle

Karen Doyle is a personal finance writer with over 20 years’ experience writing about investments, money management and financial planning. Her work has appeared on numerous news and finance websites including GOBankingRates, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, USA Today, CNBC,, and more.

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