The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Monday, January 20, 2020

7 Best Credit Cards for Single Parents

7 Best Credit Cards for Single Parents

credit card advice

Matt Walker
By: Matt Walker
Posted: December 23, 2019

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Being a parent is hard; being a single parent is one of the most challenging tasks anyone could ever undertake. And, as any single parent will tell you, a little extra help now and then is always welcome.

Often, that help comes in the form of a piece of plastic you can rely on when finances are tight. But identifying the best credit cards for single parents is not always easy.

Choosing a credit card should be based on your own unique needs, financial circumstances, and lifestyle. How you typically use a credit card will determine what type of card you should consider.

Overall
0% APR | Balance Transfer | Cash Back | Groceries & Dining | Gas | Credit-Building

Best Overall Card for Single Parents

With all you have to worry about as a single parent, you don’t need the added stress that comes from juggling multiple credit cards. But if you choose to carry a single card, that card had better be able to perform multiple functions.

Here’s our choice for the best overall card for single parents who value time and convenience, but still want the most from just one card.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★

5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • 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 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.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Discover it® Cash Back card is a great card for anyone looking to eliminate the confusion of carrying multiple credit cards. This card offers the combined advantages of high cash back rewards with no annual fee.

Plus, it comes with a 0% introductory rate on balance transfers and purchases that can help you get your budget back on track. There’s also a ton of features that Discover offers to cardholders, like free FICO credit scores on your statement, a Freeze It® on/off switch if you misplace your card, contactless tap to pay, and more.

You’ll also find fewer fees with the Discover it® card than with similar cards, such as no over-limit or foreign transaction fees. Discover also has a 100% U.S.-based customer service team that is available 24/7.

Best 0% APR Card for Single Parents

A credit card should do more than just help make purchases convenient. That’s why 0% cards are so popular — they save you money on interest, can help you consolidate other card debt, and can help you pay down existing balances faster.

While there are plenty of 0% cards out there, our top choice is the Chase Freedom Unlimited® for single parents looking to save.

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★

4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

Sure, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a 0% introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers after account opening, but it also offers so much more. First is the fact that this card comes with no annual fee.

Next is the unlimited cash back rewards on every purchase with rewards that never expire. You may also qualify for a cash bonus after spending a minimum amount in the first three months of opening your account.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is available to those with good to excellent credit, meaning a score of at least 670 or higher. If accepted, you can expect card features that include fraud protection and alerts, purchase protection, extended warranty, and the convenience of contactless payments.

Best Balance Transfer Card for Single Parents

Balance transfer credit cards are one of the most effective ways to pay down debt fast while avoiding additional interest charges. They let you consolidate monthly payments onto one card and can help you get a better handle on your budget.

When transferring balances from higher interest cards to a balance transfer card, the interest you were paying can instead go toward reducing 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 and more 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.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Discover it® Balance Transfer card comes with an industry-leading 0% intro rate on balance transfers. You can transfer balances from multiple cards within the first 60 days of account opening to take advantage of this extraordinary offer.

A small balance transfer fee may apply, but remember that this is a one-time fee. When used as part of an overall debt-reduction strategy, a 0% balance transfer card can help lower your debt faster by putting what had been interest payments directly toward your principal.

Best Cash Back Card for Single Parents

When it comes to credit card reward programs, nothing says simplicity like cash back. These rewards are easy to redeem, easy to transfer, and easy to see exactly how much you’ve earned.

As a single parent, eliminating complexity is priority number one, so a simple credit card reward plan that’s easy to use should be right up your alley.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★

4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • 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 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.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Discover it® Cash Back card lets you earn a whopping 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter. You can earn 5% back at places you regularly visit, including gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and even purchases at Amazon.com, up to the quarterly maximum.

These 5% cash back categories rotate each quarter, and you must activate to take full advantage, but 5% back on things you would already be buying is pretty sweet. Plus, you’ll earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

The Discover it® card also currently offers a cash back match, which automatically matches all the cash back you’ve earned in your first year. There’s no need to sign up and no limit to how much they’ll match. Plus, your cash back rewards never expire, and you can redeem them at any time and in any amount.

Best Grocery and Dining Card for Single Parents

Food expenses make up a significant portion of a single parent’s monthly budget. Why not earn extra cash back for those purchases?

A rewards card that’s specially designed for dining and entertainment lets you take full advantage of your food spending by offering higher-than-average rewards in this common expense category. The Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a premier credit card for anyone who regularly spends on food and entertainment.

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★

4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% 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
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • No foreign transaction fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

You’ll earn 3% cash back any time you use this card at restaurants, cafés, and even fast-food chains. You’ll also get 3% rewards at entertainment venues such as movie theaters, sporting events, amusement parks and attractions, live shows, and more. Plus, you’ll earn 2% back at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases.

There’s no annual fee for the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, and new cardmembers can earn a one-time cash bonus for spending a minimum amount within the first three months. New cardholders can also expect a low introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers, with a waiver on transfer fees during the intro period.

Applicants should have good to excellent credit, meaning a FICO score of around 670 or higher.

Best Gas Card for Single Parents

Gas purchases are unavoidable for most of us. So, getting rewarded for using your card at the pump is a big perk for single parents.

Finding a card that offers big cash back rewards for gas purchases, plus cash back at other places you use your card, is especially nice. Here’s our top gas card recommendation.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★

4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings
  • Plus, earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on everything else
  • Bonus rewards capped at $2,500 is combined bonus category purchases each quarter
  • No annual fee
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 12 Billing Cycles
0% Intro APR for 12 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a unique card in that it offers 3% cash back rewards in a category you choose. The rewards are set to the gas category by default, but you have an opportunity to choose a different category each month.

As a gas card, it lets you earn the maximum 3% cash back at gas stations, marinas, fuel dealers, and even wholesale clubs with pay at the pump. You’ll additionally earn 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, plus 1% back on all other purchases.

Note that 2% and 3% cash back applies to the first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter. A good to excellent credit score is required, and new cardholders may be eligible for a one-time cash bonus after making a minimum amount in purchases within the first 90 days.

Best Credit-Building Card for Single Parents

Finding the right credit card can be especially tough for single parents who don’t have stellar credit. You need a card that can help in an emergency, is accepted anywhere, and will help you rebuild your credit.

That often means a secured card; one that requires a security deposit, but also reports to the three major credit bureaus so you can begin to establish a good payment history. As a credit-building card, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is among the best around.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★

4.7

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
26.74% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

A security deposit is required, of course, and you must have a valid bank account in your name to qualify. Depending on your credit history, you will be required to deposit $49, $99, or $200 into an account, and, in return, you’ll get an initial credit line of $200 on your card.

This initial credit line is automatically eligible for an increase after you make the first five payments on time. A secured credit card from Capital One is different from a prepaid card in that it actually helps you build credit by reporting your payment history to the credit agencies.

It’s a true credit card that you can use anywhere Mastercard is accepted. And, after making payments responsibly for a period, you could be offered one of Capital One’s unsecured cards.

Can I Get a Credit Card in My Child’s Name?

Teaching your child about credit cards and their proper use is a great way to help them build good spending habits. However, opening a credit card in their name is not only improper, but it’s also illegal. Only a person 18 years or older can enter into a legally binding contract, which is what a credit card application is.

There have been instances where family members have used a child’s personal information — including Social Security number and birthdate — to apply for a credit card. But in addition to this being unfair to the child, it’s also credit card fraud.

The scope of the problem of parents or other family members using the identity of a minor to get a credit card is hard to pin down. According to at least one report, more than 1 million kids were impacted by identity theft in a recent study. Many don’t find out about this fraud until they reach an age to apply for credit themselves.

While a minor can be added to the credit card account of a parent as an authorized user in some instances, they can’t legally obtain a credit card until age 18. Parents concerned about the credit status of their minor child or children can legally request a credit report on their behalf.

You can even get a free copy from all three credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Can I Get a Credit Card if I’m Unemployed?

You may think being out of a job would mean you can’t apply for a credit card, but that’s not always the case. Thanks to the Credit Card Act of 2009, any income from other sources such as unemployment benefits or even income from child support can be included in your application.

If you can show income or access to resources and your credit history is decent, you may be approved for a credit card. Remember, though, just because a credit card is being offered doesn’t mean you should accept it.

You don’t need to be employed to get a credit card, but you do need to show a source of income. Child support payments are one such example of an acceptable income.

There are credit cards designed for those with blemishes on their credit, low credit scores, or who are unemployed, and they typically come with a lower credit line and higher APR. These so-called subprime credit cards are also much less lenient when it comes to late payments.

Subprime cards come in a lot of different flavors, many with high activation or processing fees and monthly or annual fees.  If you choose to go this route, be sure to shop around for a card that offers the features you want without draining your wallet.

An alternative to settling for a subprime card is to get a cosigner or become an authorized user on someone else’s account. If you are certain you can make the payments responsibly on any charges you incur, ask a friend or family member if they are willing to do this for you.

If you take on this responsibility, remember your actions will impact the credit score of someone else.

Can I Build My Child’s Credit?

The best thing you can do as a parent to help your child build good credit is to talk with them about what credit is and how to use it responsibly. Of course, helping them actually build credit is great too.

For any parent interested in helping a child establish their own credit profile and begin building a good credit history, there are ways to do this responsibly, and, most importantly, legally. Many card issuers allow minors to be added to an adult’s credit card account as an authorized user.

Minimum Age for Authorized Users by Issuer

Call customer service to find out if your card issuer allows for this, as most companies don’t detail it in their terms and conditions. Some credit card companies have a minimum age for authorized users, while others have no age restrictions at all.

Regardless, it’s still on you to ensure they are responsible in their use of credit. Remember, they can spend, but you have to pay. You can also try to take advantage of teachable moments around credit card use to reinforce lessons of responsible spending.

The interesting thing about credit is that it follows you around wherever you go. Your credit profile and history of financial dealings is indelibly linked to your name and Social Security number.

Anyone who has made mistakes involving credit and debt can tell you, it takes a lot to overcome them. Helping your child learn this lesson early is one of the best gifts you can give them.

Choose a Card that Works as Hard as You Do

Single parents have one of the toughest jobs around — raising a child while juggling all of life’s other challenges. The right credit card can help make things a little easier and less stressful, but it’s still a big responsibility.

When choosing among the best credit cards for single parents, make sure the card you decide to apply for fits your lifestyle and spending patterns. The card you choose should work as hard as you do.