The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Sunday, October 24, 2021

24 Best Credit Cards for Recent College Graduates

Best Credit Cards For Recent College Graduates

credit card advice

Ray FitzGerald
By: Ray FitzGerald
Updated: September 16, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

Finding the best credit cards for recent college graduates doesn’t have to be a thesis-level research endeavor. Sure, there are a lot of cards out there, but we’ve narrowed the list down to some of our top choices.

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
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • Whether you're at a 4-year university, community college or other higher education institution, this card might be an option for you
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), with 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023
  • Enjoy no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, or hidden fees
  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this
  • 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
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • Whether you're at a 4-year university, community college or other higher education institution, this card might be an option for you
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Enjoy no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, or hidden fees
  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this
  • 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
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.6
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
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • 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

+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
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees, and you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using a card like this responsibly could help
  • Put down a refundable $200 security deposit to get a $200 initial credit line
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Platinum Secured card responsibly could help
  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Capital Bank'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
3.2/5.0
  • 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
17.39% (variable)
$35
Poor

+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.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 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!
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A 15 months
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • #1 Most Trusted Credit Card according to Investor’s Business Daily.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
$0
Good/Excellent
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.  There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
  • Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 14 months
10.99% Intro APR for 14 months
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
$0
Good/Excellent

+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.

0% INTRO APR RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Cash Magnet® Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

0% INTRO APR RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.7/5.0
  • Earn $200 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months. You will receive the $200 back in the form of a statement credit.
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months from the date of account opening, then a variable APR applies
  • Rental car loss and damage insurance when you use your eligible card to reserve and pay for the entire rental and decline the collision waiver at the rental company counter
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
N/A
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
0% INTRO APR RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • 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
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 14.99%-24.99% variable APR after that
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
14.99% - 24.99% (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.

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn cash back twice! Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance Transfers do not earn cash back and will have a fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • 24/7 access to customer service representatives
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% for 18 months
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
BankAmericard® Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING
★★★★★
4.6
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • Earn $100 statement credit online bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then a variable APR will apply
  • An optional overdraft protection service is available to help prevent declined purchases, returned checks or other overdrafts when you link your eligible Bank of America® checking account to your credit card. Transfer fees may apply.
  • No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply.
  • Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
12.99% - 22.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING
★★★★★
4.6
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer. After that the variable APR will be 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
  • With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
  • Shop with confidence knowing that you have dependable protection benefits, including $0 Liability on Unauthorized Purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% 18 months on Purchases and Balance Transfers
0% 18 months on Purchases and Balance Transfers
13.74% - 23.74% (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
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • 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
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 14.99%-24.99% variable APR after that
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good
Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • #1 Most Trusted Credit Card according to Investor’s Business Daily.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
$0
Good/Excellent
Fortiva® Mastercard® Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • With the Fortiva® Mastercard® Credit Card, you earn up to a 3% cash back reward.
  • Make contactless payments through Mobile Wallet
  • Periodic Credit Increase Reviews
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score from Equifax†
  • † Your credit score will be available in your online account 60 days after your account is opened. (Registration required) The free VantageScore 3.0 credit score provided by Equifax is for educational purposes only and may not be used by The Bank of Missouri (the issuer of this card) or other creditors to make credit decisions.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
29.99% Variable
As low as $85
Fair

+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
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get our best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.  There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
  • Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 14 months
10.99% Intro APR for 14 months
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
$0
Good/Excellent
AIR MILES RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get our best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+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
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.7/5.0
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent
POINTS & GIFTS RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.7/5.0
  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99%-20.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent
POINTS & GIFTS RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.7/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit
  • Earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 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
16.99% - 23.99% Variable
$550
Good/Excellent

+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.

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