Best First Credit Cards for First-Timers

Multicultural young girls shopping and paying with credit card in boutique, fashion shopping girls concept stock photo
LightFieldStudios /

Getting your first credit card can be an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. It’s easier to build good credit habits from the beginning than to fix your credit later.

If you’ve never had a credit card before, you will likely start with no credit score. If you have numerous blemishes on your credit report, then your score can be as low as 300. These cards can help you get started or rebuild your credit.

5 Best Credit Cards for First-Timers

Here are five vetted credit cards for first-timers. 

Discover It Secured

  • Rewards rate: 1% to 2%
  • Annual fee: $0

Why It Is Beginner-Friendly

The Discover it Secured card is easy to be approved for even if you have no credit or bad credit. The credit limit will be equal to your deposit amount. After seven months of on-time payments, your deposit is returned to you, and your card becomes unsecured without requiring you to do anything else. 

Discover will match any cash-back rewards you earn during the first year as well.

Deserve EDU Mastercard

  • Rewards rate: Up to 1%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • 22.49% variable APR

Why It Is Beginner-Friendly

Deserve has a wide range of cards, each designed for a specific purpose or perk. Its EDU card is especially good to start out with because it doesn’t require a Social Security number. This means that international students and people who don’t have access to their Social Security number can start building credit right away.

In addition to the cash-back rewards, the Deserve EDU Mastercard also includes one year of Amazon Prime, cell phone protection and no international transaction fees.

  • Rewards rate: 1.5% to 5%
  • Annual fee: 
  • APR
Get Credit Card Perks

Why It Is Beginner-Friendly

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card isn’t just beginner-friendly; it’s everyone-friendly. With no annual fee and a huge range of rewards, this card is easy to hold on to for a long time, which allows your credit to grow over time.

Petal 2

  • Rewards rate: 1% to 1.5%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • 16.74% to 30.74% variable APR

Why It Is Beginner-Friendly

The Petal 2 credit card has no fees and decent cash-back rewards. You can get 1% cash back right away and 1.5% cash back when you pay your bill. This will help encourage you to build responsible credit habits and strengthen your credit score. 

In addition, you will get between 2% and 10% cash back at select merchants.

Capital One QuicksilverOne Rewards

  • Rewards rate: 1.5%
  • Annual fee: $39
  • 28.49% variable APR

Why It Is Beginner-Friendly

The QuicksilverOne Rewards card by Capital One is a great card if your credit score is suffering from some past mistakes. You need only fair credit to qualify for this card and can still earn 1.5% cash back on everyday purchases.

Tips for Responsible Credit Card Usage

Here are some tips to help you use your credit card responsibly and help you save money over time.

  • Pay off your credit card every month to avoid paying interest.
    • If you can’t pay off the entire balance, always pay at least the minimum on time.
  • Check your credit report regularly.
  • The earlier you catch fraud or mistakes, the easier it is to fix.
  • Maintain a low utilization rate.
  • Maxing out your card can hurt your credit score and cost you more money if you aren’t able to pay it off before it starts accumulating interest.
Get Credit Card Perks

Final Take

The best credit card will vary from person to person, depending on each of their situations. You will need to decide what is most important to you, whether it is a low annual fee, a low APR or perks. If you choose a card with a qualifier, like being a student, make sure you can upgrade it if you no longer qualify without hurting your credit score. 


  • What is a good credit card for a starter?
    • Some good starter credit cards are Discover it Secured card, Petal 2 card, Capital One QuicksilverOne Rewards card, Chase Freedom Unlimited and Deserve EDU Mastercard. To find the right card for you, ask yourself what is most important -- rewards, annual fees, interest rate or credit limit -- and then check out cards that fit your specific needs.
  • What is the No. 1 best credit card?
    • The best credit card would depend on your situation. One of the most exclusive cards is the Platinum Card® from American Express, Member FDIC, but is that exclusivity worth $700 a year? It may be if you make a million dollars per year. If you don't, an option like the Chase Freedom Unlimited card may be better, with no annual fee and many reward options.
  • Is it good to have just one credit card?
    • Having more than one card can be an advantage, because you can be strategic with your rewards, increase your total credit limit to reduce your utilization and have spending flexibility. Every time you open a new card, it will reduce your average age of credit, though, which has a medium impact on your score.
  • How does an 18-year-old build credit?
    • The easiest way to start building credit is to become an authorized user on someone else's credit card. As long as they are responsible with their credit, you don't have to do anything to build yours.
    • If someone else's credit card isn't an option, you can apply for one of the cards listed above, pay the balance off on time every month to start building your credit.

Thomas Streissguth contributed to the reporting for this article.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Dec. 27, 2022. 

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.


See Today's Best
Banking Offers