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.
Updated . What changed?
Finder’s credit card experts spent hundreds of hours comparing more than 400 credit cards to serve you the best first credit cards. To make the choice even easier, we selected the top four cards that stood out with features such as no credit check, alternative credit card approval criteria, low fees and rewards.
Up to 1.5% cashback and no fees
Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card
Prequalify without impacting your credit
Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card
1% cashback with no credit required
1% cashback for college students
Deserve® Edu Card
How to choose your first credit card
There are two main factors to consider to find the right card for your financial situation:
- 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. But 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, like the Petal cards do.
- Fees. Starter cards often have either no annual fee or a low annual fee of up to $49. There are some cards that charge up to $299 annually, but these are best avoided. Another type of fees that are often overlooked are foreign transaction fees. Having a card with a $0 foreign transaction fee is a game-changer if you often shop online with foreign merchants or if you travel abroad.
At what age can I apply for a credit card?
The minimum age you can apply for a credit card is 18, although you can be added as an authorized user to another credit card account as early as 13 and 15. This is most common credit card choice for teens.
Those who are 18 to 21 can apply for a credit card under 21, but must prove they can independently pay the card bill. Any income would work as proof, such as scholarships and grants or wages, if you have a job.
For those who are 21 or over, federal law doesn’t require proof of the ability to pay the card bill. Typically, credit card providers don’t ask you for this information, but they may do so if they’re unsure if you can repay your card bill.
When should I get a credit card?
Here are a few factors to consider before applying for a credit card. In many cases, they’re more important than your age.
- Do I make enough money?
Credit card issuers don’t have specific credit card application income requirements, but they want to make sure you can afford to pay off your debt. This is also one of the main factors determining the amount of the credit line you can get.
- Do I have a good credit history?
Do you have unpaid loans or fines, or is your credit history a clean slate? You can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the major bureaus once a year. Before you apply, check these details and decide if your financial history supports you.
- Do I have a budget?
In addition to interest costs if you carry a balance, some credit cards charge an annual fee. Consider how much you could afford to pay in account fees so you can decide if it’s worth it at this stage of your life. If you are working with a budget, you might consider a cheaper credit card.
- Can I control my spending?
Similar to budgeting for credit card costs, think about how much you’re likely to use the card. Can you stick to costs that you’re able to pay back each month? If you’re unsure but still want to apply, you could also consider a secured card to help keep your spending in check.
- Do I have the knowledge to make good financial decisions?
Having solid financial knowledge — such as how to save and how to properly use a credit card — is more important than how old you are. Understanding the mechanics of credit cards will help you be a responsible cardholder.
How to improve your chances of approval when you apply for a credit card
If you’re ready to apply for a new credit card, there are several ways to increase your chances of approval. You can start by comparing credit cards so you can find an option that suits your situation. Then check the eligibility requirements and get all the necessary details and documents together for the application.
Compare credit cards for new credit
All credit cards have different eligibility requirements. Because of that, make sure to compare cards geared toward applicants new to credit.
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
Business loans for Shopify sites
Shopify merchants may be able to get funding without a credit check.
5 smart ways to invest your stimulus check
If you don’t need your money right now, consider investing in an HSA, blue chip stocks and more.
How do AutoZone rewards work?
Earn credits while taking care of your vehicle.
Best store credit cards of 2021
Here are our picks for the best store cards of the year.
Best no annual fee credit cards of 2021
Our picks for the best no-annual-fee cards.
DasherDirect prepaid card review
Dashers can get instant access to earnings, plus 2% cash back at gas stations with this prepaid card.
Consumers Credit Union CD review
You need to be a member to access this credit union’s high interest rate options.
Revolut Junior card review
Current Revolut users can get a free prepaid card for their kids between the ages of 12 and 17.
What the second stimulus means for your small business
You might be able to apply for more funding on your PPP loan, get a second PPP loan or take advantage of a new grant program.
How do Best Buy rewards work?
Earn up to 2.5% back in rewards and get free shipping.
Ask an Expert