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

By: Toby Sembower • 8/16/2018

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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:

+ 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:

+ 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:

+ 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:

+ 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.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

About the Author

Toby Sembower

Toby Sembower has been a leading national expert on credit cards since 2004, authoring advice, reviews, and comparisons of credit card offers for millions of readers in that time. His consumer-focused advice has appeared in Yahoo! Finance, CreditCards.com, Entrepreneur.com, CreditCards.org, and other popular publications. In addition to sharing the personal lessons he’s learned from having used credit cards responsibly to raise his own FICO Score from 550 to 820, Toby’s regular interactions with top issuers like Chase, Capital One, HSBC, and Wells Fargo, enable him to provide readers with unique insights into upcoming card offers, rewards programs, and approval criteria.