10 Best Starter Credit Cards for 4 Types of People (2018)

10 Best Starter Credit Cards for 4 Types of People (2018)

credit card advice

Toby Sembower
By: Toby Sembower
Updated: August 16, 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.

Getting a first credit card can be a difficult undertaking for anyone new to the world of credit. You’ve just begun handling your finances and building your credit, so you won’t qualify for just any credit card. You have to know where to start.

That process just got much simpler. Below are the 10 best starter credit cards as rated by our experts, broken down by the types of applicants they best serve: people with little to no credit history, people with a fair credit rating, students new to credit, and even entrepreneurs in search of a new line of business credit.

3 Best Starter Cards for People with “No Credit”

If you’ve never had a credit card or loan in your name, you are likely considered to have “no credit” and a credit score of 0. Consumers with a credit history of less than six months may also be considered to have no or limited credit, as you need at least six months of payment history to be eligible for a credit score.

Credit cards offer a great opportunity for you to begin building a solid credit history so that you can eventually obtain loans for a home purchase, an automobile, or perhaps a business you’ve dreamed of starting.

Below are three of the highest-rated credit cards made specifically for those who lack an established credit history. These cards feature an easy approval process compared to most cards on the market, and they give first-time cardholders the ability to establish a good credit history with responsible use:

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
24.99% (Variable)
$39
Average, Fair, Limited

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

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
  • 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

+ See more credit cards for no/limited credit

3 Best Starter Cards for People with “Fair Credit”

If your credit history is limited — less than year old — or if you’ve had a credit card or loan in your name, but have missed a payment or taken on too much total debt, you are likely considered to have “fair credit.” Generally, credit scores for fair credit are in the 600-700 range.

There are several beginner options suitable for someone at the fair credit level. Be sure to look through the rewards and details of each individual card before deciding which is best for you:

FAIR 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
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® Review

at Credit One'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability
  • Qualified applicants will receive a card with a competitive APR and no annual fee along with 1% cash back rewards on all purchases, terms apply
  • View updates to your Experian credit score with free online access, terms apply
  • Make paying your bill easier with the ability to choose your payment due date, terms apply
  • Access your account on-the-go with the Credit One Bank mobile app
  • Never miss an account update with customizable text and email alerts
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.74% - 25.74% Variable
$0 - $99
Fair

+ See more credit cards for fair credit

3 Best Starter Cards  for Students

Many college students want to get a head start on their finances by having a credit card before they finish school. This can be a useful credit-building strategy if the card is used responsibly, as it can give you a head-start on a solid credit history.

Students can even earn an annual statement credit for good grades with some student-approved credit cards. Check out our reviews below for the most popular and highly-rated starter credit cards for students:

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 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
14.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Fair

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 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
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
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.
  • 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
14.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Fair

+ See more student credit cards

1 Starter Card for Businesses

As any entrepreneur would tell you, new or growing businesses should always have a business credit card on hand. You just never know when an unexpected expense will arise, and credit cards offer the flexibility to ensure that you can handle virtually any such surprise.

Typically business credit cards have higher credit limits than consumer cards, but the downside is that many often require an excellent credit history (for both the business and the business owner) due to the increased risk that the issuer is taking on.

However, that’s not the case for all cards. The following is the top, and perhaps only, card designed for businesses and/or owners lacking an established credit history:

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Enjoy no annual fee
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Build business credit with responsible use
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Enjoy business benefits including Year-End Summaries, employee cards at no extra cost and experienced small business customer service
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.74% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

+ See more business credit cards

Ready to Begin Building Credit?

When you’re taking the first steps toward building your credit history, it’s important to set yourself up for success by selecting the right card. There are seemingly infinite credit cards out there, but only a select few cater to first-time cardholders with no or limited credit history. Over time, as your history of on-time payments rises, so will your credit rating  eventually qualifying you for top-tier cards with big rewards and low rates.

Whether you’re a student, a business, or simply a brand new credit card owner, hopefully one of these 10 starter credit cards can help you on your way to building a solid financial future.