Home > Credit Card Reviews > 5 Credit Cards for Beginners

Comments 0 Comments

The right credit score can save you thousands of dollars. For example, an interest rate that’s 1% lower can save you $70,000 on an average mortgage loan over the average 30-year term. The trick, though, is getting to that right credit score, which starts with building your credit.
If you’re new to credit and don’t have much of a credit history, that can start with the right credit card. And there are credit cards for beginners in this exact situation.

With the right credit score, you can secure the best possible deals on major purchases. If you have little to no credit history, you can start to build your credit with a secured credit card.

It takes time to build good credit. As a result, it makes sense to start looking for beginner credit cards as soon as you turn 18.

The three major credit bureaus are Experian, Trans Union and Equifax. They track consumer financial information, such as debt, payment history and address history. The bureaus then supply this information to businesses, creditors and lenders in the form of a credit score that tells the business, creditor or lender your creditworthiness. The business, creditor or lender then decides whether or not to do business with you or give you a loan depending on your creditworthiness.

Finding the Best Deal

Different cards work well for different consumers. Starter cards are good credit cards for beginners, but you have to figure out what works for your situation.

It takes a little work to find the best beginner credit cards. First, you must think carefully about your current financial situation. Next, you want to choose the best starter credit card to help you improve your financial standing.

For example, you can reduce your debt by transferring an existing line of credit to a 0% interest credit card. Most low APR cards though require a good or better credit score. A card with a 15- to 18-month interest-free introductory period is a good way to keep your payments low if you carry a balance from month to month, but again require a better credit score.

Most credit cards for people with no credit history or bad, poor or fair credit are going to have standard APRs or even slighter higher ones. But even if you have no credit history or a less than ideal score, it’s not impossible for you to get a credit card. Before you sign an agreement, however, know exactly where you stand.

You can start your research by finding out your credit score. To learn your credit score, there are many free or low-cost online sources that you can use to check your financial standing. You can get your free Experian credit score here on Credit.com. Your score includes a free credit report card that tracks the major items that go into your credit score. Both are updated every two weeks to help you keep an eye on your credit and ensure your score is going up.

Outside of knowing your score and keeping an eye on it, there are a few choices in particular that are the best credit cards for beginners with no credit history yet.

And, the Best Credit Cards for Beginners Are

Here are the Credit.com editorial team’s picks for the best credit cards for beginners in 2019.

Like any of the cards featured here, this card helps you build credit when you use it responsibly. And no annual fee and a standard APR help make that easier.

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards 

Apply Now
on 's secure website
Card Details
Intro Apr:

Ongoing Apr:

Balance Transfer:

Annual Fee:

Credit Needed:
Snapshot of Card Features

Card Details +

The annual fee for the Credit OneBank Platinum Visa with Cash Back Rewards can range from . What you pay depends on where your credit stands.

Despite a potential annual fee, this is one of the few credit cards for people with no or low credit that pays rewards. With it, you can earn 1% cash-back rewards on eligible purchases. Your rewards automatically post to your account every month too.

In time, you can qualify for a higher credit limit with this card. And, it comes with $0 fraud liability, so you don’t have to worry about unauthorized charges.

Like many cards available to people with no or lower credit, this one has a somewhat high ongoing APR of . The takeaway here is to pay as much of your balance off each month as possible, so you don’t end up with a high credit card balance that can come with paying interest.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card 

The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is accessible to those with only fair credit. Depending on your credit score, that might put it out of reach. But, if you do qualify, like with the Credit OneBank Platinum Visa with Cash Back Rewards, you can earn rewards. You get 1.5% cashback on all purchases. Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card image

The card does come with a rather high ongoing APR of 26.99% (Variable) and an annual fee of $39 . So, if you get this card, avoid carrying a balance from month to month. Because the last thing you want to do is end up with high credit card debt that hurts your credit score when your goal is to build it up. Use it instead to build your credit by earning rewards on purchases you pay off monthly.

Capital One® Secured Mastercard® 

With a secured credit card, you get a credit card in exchange for a security deposit that acts as all or some of your credit limit. And with the Capital One Secured Mastercard you get a $200 credit line with a  $49, $99 or $200 security deposit. If you make your payments on time for five months, you can ask for a higher credit line with no added deposit needed. Capital One Secured Mastercard image

This card—and other secured cards—are all about building your credit. Use it responsibly and you’re your payments and Capital One reports your good use and payments to all three major credit bureaus.
An added per is that this card charges no annual fee.

But, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, this card too has a high ongoing APR of 26.99% (Variable) . So, as with many of the cards covered here, avoid carrying a balance from month to month. Use it instead to build your credit.

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® 

Here’s yet one more card that lets you earn rewards. On top of that, it rewards you with extra cash-back rewards when you make your payments on time. Normal cash-back rewards are 1%. Make your payments on time and earn 1.25%. Journey Student Rewards from Capital One image

Like the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, this one has a somewhat steep ongoing APR 26.99% (Variable) . So, get your rewards, but reward your credit by not carrying a balance from month to month if possible. If it’s not possible, keep that balance low.

This card also charges no annual fee.

No Credit vs. Bad Credit

No credit isn’t the same as bad credit. You may have either. If you have no credit, changes are you’re younger or new to using credit. You’ve likely never had a credit card or even a loan. Bad credit is having a history of not using credit wisely. Either can make getting credit—including a credit card—harder.

Some cards are marketed specifically at people with bad credit. Some of those are traditional unsecured credit cards. Other are secured cards, like the Capital One Secured Mastercard, covered above that require a security deposit.

A secured card can be great for building credit because credit limits are low, which makes it hard to overspend and get yourself in trouble.

Even an unsecured credit card for those with bad credit though, probably won’t give cardholders much of a credit limit. And any credit card for someone with bad credit is likely to charge a higher interest rate.

On the flip side are cards for people with no credit history. Many of these cards are also secured cards with limited credit lines and often higher interest rates. One exception is the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card. It has an ongoing APR of just 9.99% Variable APR for Purchases . Even so, carrying a balance form month to month can easily turn no credit history into bad credit, so read on as to why it’s critical to charge carefully.

One More Thing!

Whatever you do, whichever credit card you get, keep your eye on the real prize, which is to build your credit. There are five key things that go into your credit score:

  1. Payment history makes up 35% of your score
  2. Debt usage makes up 30%
  3. Credit age makes up 15%
  4. Account mix make up 10%
  5. Credit inquiries make up 10%

Protect your payment history by making payments on your new credit card on time each month.

Keep the amount you charge to a maximum of 30% of your credit limit. For instance, if you get the Capital One Secured Mastercard and have a $200 credit limit, never carry a balance of more than $60 on the card. The ideal debt usage is 10%, which would mean no more than $20.

You already have a credit age issue—that’s where no credit history comes in. The only way to improve credit age is to use credit—loans or credit cards.

Account mix is the mix of types of accounts. You want revolving credit—the kind that comes with credit cards. But, you also want installment loans that are for a set amount with a predictable monthly payment.

Credit inquiries, while not a huge factor are critical. You don’t want to go out and apply for multiple cards. Apply for one that you really want and that you’re confident you’ll get approved for. Why? Because each application puts a hard inquiry on your credit, which can ding your score. The only exception is cards that say they won’t check your credit when you apply. If that’s the case, you’re okay.

If you didn’t see a card here that appeals to you, check out all of the cards for no credit, credit cards for bad credit, credit cards for poor credit or cards for fair credit on Credit.com.

Happy card hunting.

Editorial disclosure: Reviews are as determined solely by Credit.com staff. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the reviewers and aren’t reviewed or approved by any advertiser. Information presented is accurate as of the date of the review, including information on card rates, rewards and fees. Check the issuer’s website for the most current information on each card listed. 

Advertiser disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on this website are from credit card companies that Credit.com receives compensation from. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. 

Update: Some offers mentioned above may have expired and/or no longer be available on our site. View the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace.

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.



Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team