The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Saturday, December 14, 2019

15 Best Credit Cards for New Credit Users

15 Best Credit Cards for New Credit Users

credit card advice

Adam West
By: Adam West
Updated: October 9, 2019

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They say it’s not about how you start a race, but rather how you finish it — but that saying isn’t quite true in the credit world. If you’re just getting started on your financial journey, finding the best credit cards for new credit users could give you a nice head start.

The market offers so many different card options for new credit users, but it’s not unusual for the terms and conditions to easily confuse even veteran credit users. We’ve compiled a list of the top 15 cards for new credit users that can help you build a positive credit history with responsible use.

Overall | Cash Back | Business | Students | Secured | FAQs

Best “Overall” Cards for New Credit Users

We’ve included a classic unsecured card, a student-only card, and a secured offering in our best overall cards, so there’s something for every credit novice. These cards won’t weigh you down with fees and offer several perks to get your credit-building journey started on the right foot.

  • Pay no annual fee
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is a great entry-level credit card because it offers competitive interest rates, no annual fees, and Capital One often considers credit limit increases after you’ve made your first five payments on time. While you may not find a ton of added rewards with this card, you also won’t find the fees that often accompany the richer rewards cards.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
19.49% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is all about rewarding its cardholders. The card starts with a whopping 5% cash back on quarterly categories, including gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and Amazon.com, up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Discover will also match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. And, if you maintain a GPA of at least 3.0, you’ll earn a $20 statement credit each year for up to five years.

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

Secured credit cards offer one of the easiest routes to building a credit score, and the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is the best of the bunch. While most secured credit cards require a refundable security deposit that matches your credit limit (for example, a $500 deposit yields a $500 limit), Capital One uses your credit history or verified income information to determine your required deposit amount. Based on the bank’s assessment, you’ll pay a deposit of either $49, $99, or $200 to access a $200 credit limit.

Best “Cash Back” Cards for New Credit Users

A good cash back credit card provides a chance for you to earn while you learn. That’s because the card issuer will pay back a percentage of every purchase you make when you use your card. The percentage you earn will depend on the card — but we’ve narrowed down the list to show you the best cards for new users.

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$39
Average, Fair, Limited

With the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, you can earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make. The flat cash back rate makes this an excellent card for new credit users because it takes some experience to juggle rotating categories and bonuses. This card comes with a $39 annual fee, so make certain you’ll use the card often enough to offset the cost.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
19.49% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit

The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers a tremendous 5% cash back on purchases made in quarterly categories that include gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and Amazon.com, up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. And, Discover automatically matches all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.

Discover it® Secured Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.2

OVERALL RATING

3.7/5.0
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% for 6 months
24.49% Variable
$0
New/Rebuilding

You’ll typically only find secured credit cards that just offer the basics, but the Discover it® Secured card is one of the only cards on the market that offers cash back. After a minimum refundable security deposit of $200 (the amount of your deposit will match your credit limit), you can start earning 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter. All other purchases earn a flat 1% cash back.

Best “Business” Cards for New Credit Users

Being approved for business credit is generally based on your personal credit rating. So, for those without a strong credit history – or no credit history at all – it can be difficult to obtain a business credit card. These cards offer budding entrepreneurs the chance to build their business empire and their credit history.

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • No annual fee
  • Build and strengthen credit for your business by using this credit card responsibly
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.74% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

Running a business is expensive — which makes it imperative to find a business credit card that doesn’t overcharge for membership. The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business sports no annual fee or foreign transaction fees, and pays a flat 1% cash back on every purchase. Plus, the card helps you build a business credit profile — which is a major plus for any startup.

8. Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

The amount of your refundable security deposit will equal the credit limit on your Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card. You’ll also earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase made using the card. Wells Fargo rewards cash back with quarterly statement credits or a direct deposit to an eligible business checking or savings account.

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every $1 spent
  • $500 to $25,000 credit line
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Issue up to 10 employee cards, $25 annual fee per card

Secured business credit cards aren’t as common as secured consumer cards. Many business offerings only operate in specific states or regions. But Wells Fargo is a national brand and offers acceptance anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

9. BBVA Compass Business Secured Credit Card

The BBVA Secured Visa® Business Credit Card offers a tiered bonus structure that rewards business owners with 3x points for the purchases they make the most — such as office supplies, printing, gas, and restaurants. All other purchases earn a flat 1x point for every dollar spent on the card.

BBVA Compass Business Visa

  • Earn 3x points at office supply stores and 2x points at gas stations and restaurants
  • Earn 1X point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Pay no annual fee the first year, then $40

To obtain this card you must open a Secured Credit Card Savings Account with a minimum deposit amount of $500 — and your credit limit will equal 90% of your total deposit amount. This card is currently only open to residents of Alabama, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, California, and New Mexico.

Best “Student” Cards for New Credit Users

A student card is a great way to build credit while you’re still in school. Without an established credit history, it’s harder and potentially costlier to get an apartment or obtain a loan. Our top choices offer discounts for good grades, low or no fees, and a chance to earn some cash back to help pay for pizza on those long study nights.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
19.49% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is the current king of student cards, as it offers an unheard of 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories you opt in to, up to the quarterly maximum. Discover also matches the total cash back you earn during your first year with the card, a benefit that puts this card on par with, or ahead of, some of the best consumer cash back cards on the market.

Discover it® Student chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
19.49% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit

Discover it® Student chrome cardholders pay no annual fee, receive a competitive interest rate, and can earn 2% cash back on quarterly categories and a flat 1% on all other purchases, up to the quarterly maximum. As with its Student Cash Back sibling, Discover will match all of the cash back you earn during your first year with this card — and still offers a $20 statement credit each year if you maintain a 3.0 GPA or better.

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.2/5.0
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get Eno®, your Capital One® assistant, to manage your account via text, receive alerts, and shop safer online
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® card rewards its cardholders for making on-time payments with a two-part cash back system. All members receive 1% back on every purchase made using the card. But, when you make an on-time payment each month, you’ll get an additional 0.25% cash back on the balance you paid off.

Best “Secured” Cards for New Credit Users

If you’re a cautious person who doesn’t want to make early financial mistakes, you may want to consider a secured credit card as the first piece of plastic in your wallet. These cards require a refundable security deposit to open your account, but they often charge lower fees and limit your spending to the amount of your deposit.

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

Depending on your credit score and verifiable income, you may not have to pay a full security deposit to open your Capital One® Secured Mastercard®. That’s because Capital One uses your submitted data to determine the amount of required deposit you must pay — either $49, $99, or $200. All cardholders start with a $200 credit limit, but Capital One could raise your credit limit — with no additional deposit required — after you make your first five payments on time.

Discover it® Secured Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

3.7/5.0
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% for 6 months
24.49% Variable
$0
New/Rebuilding

The amount of your refundable security deposit will equal your total Discover it® Secured credit limit. Discover requires a minimum $200 deposit to open an account, but offers a rare cash back feature in the secured card space. All cardholders earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Capital Bank'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★
4.0

OVERALL RATING

2.9/5.0
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search "OpenSky Card" in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.14% (variable)
$35
No credit check

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card doesn’t require a credit check to open an account, which means your lack of credit history won’t hurt you when applying for this card. OpenSky reports your payment history to the three major credit reporting bureaus, which helps you build your credit score with responsible usage.

What is the Best Credit Card for Someone with No Credit?

Quite often, banks lump consumers with bad credit and no credit into the same category, but there are major differences between the two.

If you have bad credit, that means you have previous financial mistakes, delinquencies, or a bankruptcy recorded on your credit profile. If you have no credit, you’re what the finance industry calls credit invisible.

These consumers don’t have enough recent financial transactions on file to generate a reliable credit score. If that’s you, you’re not alone — there are more than 26 million credit invisible adults in the U.S. alone.

That doesn’t mean credit card issuers will line up to offer you their best cards, though.

Capital One® Platinum Mastercard

The Capital One® Platinum Mastercard is our top choice for someone with no credit.

Most credit-invisible consumers start with an entry-level credit card — such as the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card. Credit card issuers carefully examine an applicant’s risk levels when deciding whether to extend a credit card offer. Since you don’t have any recent transactions that will help the bank determine your risk level, the issuer will likely take cautious steps when extending you credit.

The Platinum Card from Capital One is a great starter card because it has very competitive interest rates and no fees. Capital One will monitor your payment history and reward you with a credit limit increase after you make your first five payments on time.

And since Capital One offers many different types of cards, you can eventually upgrade to better cards as you work to establish your credit history.

That can happen quickly with responsible use. One consumer went from being credit invisible to having a terrific 745 credit score in less than two years.

Which Credit Cards Build Credit Fast?

Building credit is a marathon, not a sprint. While some companies claim they can raise your credit score overnight, there’s really no way to truly boost your profile that fast.

FICO Score Factors

Several factors combine to determine your overall credit score. Among the most important are your payment history and credit utilization. No single credit card can improve those categories faster than others.

Every month, banks report your loan payment history to one or all of the three major credit reporting bureaus. On-time payments continue to strengthen your score. Late payments can slash dozens of points off your score immediately and sit on your credit report for as long as seven years.

Lenders want to see a long track record of financial success. They won’t necessarily punish you for having less credit history, but you may have to pay more fees or accept lesser terms until you have some credit history under your belt.

Credit utilization looks at how much revolving debt you carry in relation to your available credit. It is generally recommended to keep your utilization at or below 30%. In addition to always making on-time payments, the next best way to improve your score is to keep your card balances low. Again, no specific credit card can do this faster than others — this is the sole responsibility of the cardholder.

One thing you could do to quickly raise your credit score is to find a credit card with a high credit limit. By adding more available credit to your current credit mix, you decrease your utilization ratio.

What is a Good Credit Score?

Most lenders use FICO scores when determining loan eligibility. Thankfully, FICO breaks its scores down into easy-to-understand categories. You can quickly find where your credit score stands in the eyes of credit card issuers by referring to these categories.

While your FICO score can range from 300 to 850, a “good” credit score starts at 670.

FICO Score® Ranges

You will reap many benefits once you fall into this range. The number of cards you’ll qualify for will grow, and the terms you’re offered will improve. You’ll also have access to higher credit limits and richer rewards on whichever card you choose to apply for.

And since you’ll find more options at your disposal, you’ll have the benefit of shopping for the best terms and rates to choose the card that best suits your needs.

But good credit isn’t just about getting better credit cards. Many employers now take into account an applicant’s credit score when making hiring decisions. Consumers with better credit scores also qualify for better personal loans, mortgages, or get better rates when renting an apartment.

The higher your score, the better your financial options will become. FICO considers “good” credit as any score between 670 and 739. Banks consider the range between 740 and 799 as “very good” and the rare air between 800 and 850 is considered “exceptional.”

Just be sure to keep your loan and credit card balances low and always make on-time payments. As stated above, if you miss one payment by 30 days or more, you can instantly lose between 90 and 100 points from your credit score. Regaining those points could take years.

Begin Your Credit Journey with the Right Card

We’re all running the same race, and though we all want to prove our responsibility and creditworthiness quickly, there’s no fast fix to get to the finish line before everyone else.

The only solution is to prove yourself over time — by making on-time payments, keeping your balances low, and not overextending yourself financially. If you stick to that path and consider one of our best credit cards for new credit users, you’ll get to your financial goals without having to jump over any hurdles.