Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our content.

Best first credit card

Enter the world of credit cards with the right choice.

To serve you the best first credit cards, Finder’s credit card experts spent hundreds of hours comparing more than 400 options. To make the choice even easier, we selected the top five cards that stood out with features such as no credit check, alternative credit card approval criteria, low fees and rewards.

Why trust us? Unlike our competitors, Finder’s credit card experts compare and write about all credit cards, including those from providers that aren’t our partners. Our completely unbiased evaluations are meant to help you get the best credit card for your financial situation.

Best for established credit
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited® logo
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 5%
Cash back
$200
Welcome offer
Those who have been authorized users on someone else’s credit cards are likely to have a good credit score of 670 or higher. This can give them access to the Freedom Unlimited card, which is one of the best cashback cards currently on the market.
  • Cash back. Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% back on Lyft until March 2022, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases. Most other cashback cards earn 1% back on all purchases outside select categories, which makes the Freedom Unlimited a better choice in the long run.
  • Signup bonus. Earn a $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months. You can also earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. Similar cards often come with a bonus of between $50 and $250.
  • Intro APR. Get 0% intro APR period on purchases for the first 15 months. After that, a variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74% applies.
  • Foreign transaction fees. There&rsquo
  • s a 3% fee of the amount of every purchase you make abroad or online with foreign retailers.
  • No intro APR period on balance transfers. This used to be a perk for this card, but for now, there&rsquo
  • s no 0% intro APR period on balance transfers.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
Balance transfer APR 14.99% to 23.74% variable
Welcome offer $200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus 5% cash back at grocery stores (not including Target® or Walmart®) on up to $12,000 in the first yeares) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year
Estimated welcome offer value $800 based on Finder's valuation
Rewards 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% on Lyft, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases

Best first credit card for no credit history
Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card

Petal® 2
Finder Rating: 3.1 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (600-850)
Apply now
on WebBank's secure site
Rates & fees

600
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 10%
Cash back
n/a
Welcome offer
Everyone who has no credit history but has solid finances can get this credit card. It comes with cashback rewards, no fees and a potentially high credit limit. The alternative for such individuals used to be a secured card, but luckily not anymore.
  • Cash back. Earn 1% cash back on all purchases. Make 12 on-time monthly payments and Petal will raise your rewards rate to 1.5% back. What's more, you can earn between 2% and 10% back at select merchants.
  • No credit history required. Petal analyzes your income and financial records, including your checking accounts and bill payments, to determine your eligibility if you have no credit history.
  • Potentially high credit limit. Petal offers credit limits between $500 and $10,000. This is excellent given you don't have a credit history. However, your limit is ultimately based on your ability to pay.
  • No signup bonus. Most cashback credit cards come with a signup bonus of between $100 and $250. Unfortunately, you won't earn any signup bonus with this card.
  • No intro APR period. Cashback cards often come with a 0% intro APR period on purchases, balance transfers or both. But this is another feature this card lacks.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 12.99% to 26.99% variable
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer N/A
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 1% cashback, 1.25% after six on-time payments and 1.5% after 12 on-time payments, plus 2% - 10% back from select merchants

Best first credit card for professionals
Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®

Jasper Cash Back Mastercard® logo
Finder Rating: 4.5 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (580-850)
Apply now
on WebBank's secure site
Rates & fees

580
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 6%
Cash back
n/a
Welcome offer
Professionals fresh out of college or those relocating to the US may find this card to be an excellent first choice. It doesn't require a credit history or a credit score to apply for it, and you get to build your credit score. What's more, there's no annual fee and you get to earn rewards on all of your purchases.
  • No credit history required. Jasper takes your education and career into consideration, but also your income, employment and credit history if you have one.
  • Cash back. Earn 1% cash back on all purchases. You can earn up to a total of 6% back on all purchases by referring friends. For every friend you refer who applies and is accepted, you'll get an extra 1% for a full year. Plus, your referrals will also start off by earning an additional 1% on purchases for their first year as well.
  • No annual fee. You won't pay an annual fee for the card.
  • No signup bonus. You won't earn any bonus upon sign up. Cashback cards often come with a bonus of between $100 and $250. But lack of a signup bonus is the tradeoff for the chance to get a cashback card with no credit history.
  • No intro APR period. You don't get to save money on interest with a 0% intro APR period on purchases, balance transfers or both.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 15.49% to 24.99% variable
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer N/A
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards Up to 6% cash back by referring friends. Start with 1% and get an extra 1% for a full year for every friend you bring on board

Best first credit card for college students
Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students

Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (580-850)
Read review
580
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 3%
Cash back
$200
Welcome offer
Most student credit cards come with lower rewards rates and shorter or no 0% intro APR period compared to standard credit cards. The Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students, however, is a unicorn. It's almost identical to the non-student version, with the same rewards rate, signup bonus and intro APR period.
  • Cash back. Earn 3% cash back in one category you choose from: online shopping, dining, gas, drug stores, travel or home improvements. Earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. You earn 3% and 2% back on the first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter. After reaching the cap and on all other purchases earn 1% back.
  • Signup bonus. Earn a $200 cash bonus after you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Intro APR. Get 0% on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 billing cycles from the day you open your account. A variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% applies thereafter.
  • Foreign transaction fees. Purchases made abroad or online with foreign merchants cost 3% of the amount.
  • Balance transfer limitations. Complete your balance transfers in the first 60 days when you open your account to use the 0% intro APR period. Otherwise, the standard variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% will apply.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 12 statement closing dates (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 12 billing cycles (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Welcome offer $200 after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category, grocery and wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1%

Best secured card
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured logo
Finder Rating: 4.2 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (300-669)
Read review
300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
23.99% variable
Purchase APR
From $300
Min. deposit
Getting a secured card is often the first step to building your credit. For this type of card, you have to make a deposit of between $300 and $4,900, which will act as your credit limit. You can get your deposit back if you upgrade to an unsecured card or decide to close your account without any debt. What separates this card from competition is that you get to earn the same rewards as you would with the unsecured card.
  • Cash back. Earn 3% cash back on one eligible category of your choice and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. You earn 3% and 2% back on up to $2,500 each quarter. After reaching the cap and on all other purchases, earn 1% cash back. It's hard to find a more rewarding secured credit card.
  • Deposit return. Bank of America will monitor your account. With responsible card use, you will not only build credit but also graduate to an unsecured card and get your initial deposit back.
  • Monitor your credit. Bank of America gives you access to your FICO credit score for free. That way you can easily track your credit-building progress.
  • Foreign transaction fees. Purchases made abroad or online will cost you 3% of the amount.
  • A secured card. You won't earn a bonus upon sign up. But it's rare for a secured card to offer a signup bonus anyway.
Annual fee $0
Minimum deposit required Starting at $300
Purchase APR 23.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 23.99% variable
Recommended minimum credit score 300

Types of first credit cards

It may seem counter-intuitive but first-timers have access to a variety of credit cards to help build credit and even earn rewards. Here are the most common options for starter credit cards:

Credit cards for those with no credit

This type of card is worth considering for anyone who’s not a student and anyone who has no credit history but has a steady income and low or no debt. To determine your eligibility, providers of this type of card will typically check your income and bill payments, among other financial checks.

Secured credit cards

Secured cards can be a great choice for anyone who has a bad credit score or no credit history. For this type of card, your finances aren’t generally an issue. That’s because you must make a secured deposit of $200 or more, which acts as your credit limit. This is basically a guarantee that you’ll pay off your balance.

Student credit cards

This is a great option for students because there’s rarely a credit score requirement to apply for the card, and you can often earn rewards on your purchases. What’s more, student cards often report to all three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — which can help build credit with responsible card use.

Standard credit cards

There are two options to get access to standard credit cards — you either become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card or you get one by yourself if you were already an authorized user and have built a credit score. This gives you access to some of the best cashback rewards credit cards, travel rewards cards and more. These are often hard to get if you don’t have at least a good credit score of 670 or higher.

How to choose your first credit card

With no credit history, your credit card options are limited. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. Keep an eye out for certain perks and benefits, and you’ll get the right card.

  • Consider rewards. Some cards reward all your purchases, while others reward you more on specific categories. Consider which card will earn you the most rewards based on your spending.
  • Review your credit score. Unless you were an authorized user on someone else’s credit card, chances are you won’t have any credit score to begin with. Students can go right ahead and apply for student cards, which are one of the best credit-building cards. Anyone else would have to go for secured credit cards, cards that don’t check your credit score or cards that take other factors into consideration aside from your credit score, as the Petal cards do.
  • Compare the fees. The best credit cards won’t have an annual fee, a foreign transaction fee or late payment fees. If you rarely travel abroad or shop online with foreign merchants, it’s likely you won’t mind the foreign transaction fees. But if you do spend money online or use your card internationally, consider a card with no foreign transaction fees.
Finder pro tip: Apply for one card at a time. When you apply for a credit card, the card provider checks your credit score. This is known as a hard pull, which knocks a few points off your score. A hard pull isn’t a big deal as it’s easily reversible with good repayment habits. But applying for multiple cards simultaneously can have a huge negative impact on your credit score. Plus, your chances of approval instantly diminish.

What makes for a best first credit card

The best starter credit cards should report your card activity to all three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. That way you can easily build your credit with responsible use and get a better card down the line.

If your first credit card also comes with rewards, a signup bonus and even a 0% intro APR period, all the better.

Bottom line

When used responsibly, credit cards can become a convenient, practical and valuable part of your adult finances. If you play your cards right, they may even help you get approved for a home loan or other financial products in the future. And once you’ve become comfortable handling your credit card, consider scoping out a top-rated secondary card that perfectly complements your first.

If you haven’t found the best credit card for your needs, compare other credit card options until you do.

Back to top

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and finder.com Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site