24 Best Credit Cards for Recent College Graduates

24 Best Credit Cards for Recent College Graduates

credit card advice

Ray FitzGerald
By: Ray FitzGerald
Posted: August 14, 2018
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

Graduation is exciting. The cap, the gown, the proud parents gathered ’round. Maybe a fancy dinner or graduation-present trip.

Then it’s over — and the Real World is at your door. You need to get a job, start paying bills, and do all that “adulting” you’ve heard so much about on the internet (#adulting).

For instance, adults build credit. And one of the easiest ways to establish and build a credit profile is through responsible credit card use. You may even earn rewards while you’re at it.

No/Limited Credit | No/Low Fees | Rewards

Best “No/Limited Credit” Cards for Recent Graduates

While 58% of graduates have at least one credit card, many students have yet to even establish credit, let alone build the good credit score needed to qualify for many of the best rewards credit cards.

Instead, because most new graduates will have no or limited credit history, new credit card options are going to be similarly limited. But there are a number of quality credit cards designed specifically for credit builders.

When choosing a card to build credit, you’ll need to decide between an unsecured credit card or a secured card. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so it’s often best to compare your options.

Unsecured | Secured

Best Unsecured Cards for No/Limited Credit

Unsecured cards are what most people think about when they think about credit cards; they’re a line of credit extended to you by the issuing bank that you can use to make purchases, all without a deposit.

However, the lack of a deposit makes unsecured credit cards riskier for the bank — which can make unsecured cards harder to get for someone with limited credit, so you’ll likely need to look for entry-level unsecured cards like our picks below.

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
3.8/5.0
  • 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
24.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
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 or Amazon.com 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
14.74% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Fair
Discover it® Student chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.6
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.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter - no sign-ups needed. 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
14.74% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Fair

+See More Unsecured Cards for No/Limited Credit

Unsecured credit cards are risky for the banks because their only recourse if the cardholder defaults is to go through legal channels to try and get their money back (which can be expensive in and of itself).

One way credit card issuers offset some of this possible loss is through higher fees. This means unsecured cards that approve those with low credit scores or thin credit profiles often carry much higher interest rates than cards aimed at those with higher scores.

In other words? Carrying a balance on an unsecured starter card from month to month will likely be expensive, so always pay your credit card in full each month (which is just plain good credit card behavior in the first place).

Best Secured Cards for No/Limited Credit

Secured credit cards are also good credit-building cards, but they’re a little more involved than unsecured cards. Specifically, you’ll be required to provide a cash deposit to open a secured credit account.

Because secured cards are less risky to the issuer, they often have lower interest rates and fees, as well as offering additional perks. For example, some of our top secured cards come with no annual fee and may even offer cash back rewards.

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
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, determined based on your creditworthiness
  • 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
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
Discover it® Secured Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.5
OVERALL RATING
3.7/5.0
  • No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
  • Your Secured Credit Card requires a refundable security deposit up to the amount we can approve of at least $200 which will establish your credit line. You will need to provide your bank information when submitting your security deposit.
  • We will automatically begin reviewing your account starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • 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.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% for 6 months
24.74% Variable
$0
Please refer to issuer's website
First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card Review

at First Progress'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★
4.0
OVERALL RATING
2.3/5.0
  • Fund your new MasterCard® secured credit card with your tax refund today!
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards are Accepted!
  • Monthly Reporting to all 3 Major Credit Bureaus to Establish Credit History
  • Credit Line Secured by Your Fully-Refundable Deposit of $200 - $2,000 Submitted with Application
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
20.24% (Variable)
$29
Bad Credit

+See More Secured Cards for No/Limited Credit

With a secured card, your deposit acts as collateral. Essentially, the deposit you make secures the credit line against default, ensuring the bank won’t lose money if you can’t pay your balance.

As such, the size of your deposit will typically determine the size of your credit line. In many cases, you’ll be able to make a deposit larger than the minimum to secure a larger credit line.

One of the best parts about secured credit cards is that your deposit is completely refundable, provided you keep your account in good standing. You can recover your deposit at any time by closing your credit card account.

Best “No/Low Fee” Cards for Recent Graduates

In the modern educational world, student loans are a big part of the picture for many students. In fact, 40% of adults under the age of 30 have student loan debt weighing down their finances.

Of course, even if you do manage to escape college with both your degree and no debt, chances are good you won’t exactly be rolling in the cash for a while yet, which makes saving money wherever you can a top priority.

And one of those places you can save is your credit card. Between cards with no annual fee and cards with no-interest offers, you can often build credit without burdening your budget.

No Annual Fee | 0% APR New Purchases | 0% APR Balance Transfers

Best Cards with No Annual Fee

One of the largest costs associated with credit cards is that pesky annual fee, which can range anywhere from $30 up to $2,500, depending on the perks and rewards. While annual fees can be worth it for some cards and consumers, they’re likely more of a drain than a boon to a new graduates budget.

But you don’t need to shell out the big bucks for a quality credit card, not even if you want awesome rewards. Many of our favorite annual-fee-free credit cards offer the whole package, including purchase rewards and solid sign-up bonuses.

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • 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.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Android Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 14.74%-26.74% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
14.74%-26.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

+See More Cards with No Annual Fee

An important thing to remember when it comes to cards without an annual fee is that you may still be charged other types of fees. If you let your balance carry over from month to month, for example, you’ll likely be charged interest fees.

And other transaction types can also come with fees, including balance transfers and cash advances, which both come with service fees as well as their own interest fee rates. Understand the possible charges before making these types of transactions with your card.

Best Cards with 0% Intro APR on New Purchases

Ah, interest fees, the pain-in-the-neck fees that can turn a relatively small purchase into an expensive one in a matter of months. While you can avoid accruing interest fees by paying your balance in full every month, sometimes that simply isn’t an option — especially on a recent-grad budget.

Credit cards that come with introductory 0% APR offers can provide 12 months or more of interest-free purchasing, helping you make those important “real world” purchases while working your way up the corporate ladder. Many of our top-rated offers even come with no annual fees.

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

0% INTRO APR RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 16.90%-26.74% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
  • Free access to your FICO® Credit Score with Wells Fargo Online®
  • Zero Liability protection for promptly reported unauthorized transactions
  • Convenient tools to help create a budget and manage your spending with My Money Map
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 18 months
0% for 18 months
16.90%-26.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
0% INTRO APR RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
0% INTRO APR RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

+See More Cards with 0% APR on New Purchases

A key consideration when using 0% APR offers is to remember that they’re temporary. Once your introductory period has expired, your new purchase APR will revert to the default rate listed on your cardholder agreement.

This means any balance from new purchases remaining on your card after the terms expire will start accruing interest at the default rate, so be sure to pay off your balance in full before the promotion expires to avoid being charged interest fees.

Best Cards with 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfer

If more than half of college graduates have at least one credit card, that means at least half of graduates may be leaving college with credit card debt. And chances are good that debt is accruing interest at a high rate.

One of the best ways to lower your interest rate is to transfer your balance to a credit card with a 0% intro-APR. The best balance transfer cards, like our top picks below, can provide 12 months or more interest-free to pay down your balance.

Discover it® Balance Transfer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • 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, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
13.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 16.90%-26.74% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
  • Free access to your FICO® Credit Score with Wells Fargo Online®
  • Zero Liability protection for promptly reported unauthorized transactions
  • Convenient tools to help create a budget and manage your spending with My Money Map
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 18 months
0% for 18 months
16.90%-26.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

+See More Cards with 0% APR on Balance Transfers

One thing to note about balance transfers is that most credit cards will charge a balance transfer fee to move a balance to that card. These fees can range from 3% to 5% of the total balance you want to move and can reduce the amount that can be transferred.

Additionally, you can’t transfer a balance between cards from the same issuer. For example, you can’t transfer a Chase credit card balance to another Chase credit card. Finally, keep in mind that you generally won’t earn any rewards for transferred balances, nor will they count toward the spending requirement for a signup bonus.

Best “Rewards” Cards for Recent Graduates

For those diligent graduates who worked to build good credit while still in school, the options for an after-graduation credit card may be a whole lot more expansive than those available to their no-credit classmates.

And those options include a wealth of awesome rewards credit cards that can turn almost any purchase into a rewarding buy.

Rewards credit cards come in three main types: cash back, air miles, and points. The type of rewards you should seek out will depend on your personal spending style, as well as how you’re most likely to redeem your rewards.

Cash Back | Air Miles | Points

Best Cash Back Rewards Credit Cards

Cash back rewards are most often the simplest to redeem, with the option to cash in your rewards for a statement credit or a deposit into a qualifying bank account.

You’ll typically find two types of cash back cards. The first simply provides the same rewards rate for every card purchase, while the second also offers bonus rewards for specific types of purchases. Our list of favorite cash back cards includes the best of both worlds.

CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Android Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 14.74%-26.74% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
14.74%-26.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • 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.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

+See More Cards with Cash Back Rewards

To choose the right cash back card, consider where you spend the most each month, and select a card that complements those purchases. For example, if you spend a lot on gas, groceries, and other common purchases, choose a card that offers bonus cash back for those categories.

If, on the other hand, your spending doesn’t fall into common categories, you’ll likely be better off with an unlimited flat-rate cash back card that offers 1.5% or better on all purchases.

Best Air Miles Rewards Credit Cards

Each year, many new graduates strap on their backpacks and head out on a travel adventure before they have to join the workforce. But traveling the world isn’t exactly cheap, which is where travel rewards credit cards can be handy.

With a good travel rewards credit card, like those on our list below, you can earn miles that can be redeemed for free flights, hotel stays, and other travel-related expenses, turning an expensive pipe dream into a more affordable reality.

AIR MILES RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good
AIR MILES RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Excellent Credit
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
13.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

+See More Cards with Air Miles Rewards

When comparing air miles cards, you’ll come across both co-branded and bank-branded cards. Co-branded cards earn frequent flyer miles for specific airlines, and those miles can only be redeemed for flights with those airlines.

The more flexible travel rewards cards are those only branded with the issuing bank (e.g., Chase, Capital One), as these points and miles can often be redeemed directly for travel on any airline (or with any hotel brand).

Best Points Rewards Credit Cards

With the ability to redeem points for both cash back and travel in many cases, points rewards credit cards are often the best choice for those who want versatile rewards and a variety of redemption options.

As with other types of rewards cards, points rewards come in two flavors: unlimited flat-rate rewards or bonus category rewards. Given that the best pick for you will depend on your personal spending habits, it can be beneficial to explore both types, starting with our top picks below.

POINTS & GIFTS RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Excellent Credit
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

POINTS & GIFTS RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • New! Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that's a $300 cash redemption value
  • Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • Earn 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
14.24%-26.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
POINTS & GIFTS RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

+See More Cards with Points Rewards

Although points rewards can usually be redeemed for a wide range of things, including cash back, travel, and gift cards, not all redemption options offer the same per-point value.

In many cases, redeeming points directly for travel or by transferring to a qualifying hotel or airline partner (when available) can provide the best per-point value.

Start Off Your Professional Life with Good Credit Decisions

After years of hard work, lectures, and exams, graduating can be a huge relief — right up until you realize you now have to start being an adult.

One of the most important things you can do to start your post-college financial life off right is to start responsibly building credit. But the keyword here is responsibly.

Establishing a credit profile will do you little good if you start by building bad credit, so be sure to practice responsible credit behaviors.

This includes always (always, always) paying your debts and bills on time, maintaining low credit card balances, and being stingy about opening new credit lines.