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Best credit cards for young adults and young professionals

These cards are easier to obtain and help you start your credit journey.

When you’re younger, it’s unlikely you’ll have much credit history, which is what lenders normally use to evaluate credit card applications. Our guide looks at what you can do about it and what your options are to help you build your credit even if you’re new to the credit world.

Best for young adults with no credit

Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card

Finder rating 3.1 / 5 ★★★★★

Apply now
on WebBank's secure website
Terms apply, see rates & fees
This card is a solid option for young adults who have no credit. With responsible card use, you can build your credit and get access to better cards and better loan terms in the future. Plus, you get to earn cash back on all your purchases and you won't pay an annual fee for the card.

Best for young adults who often travel

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Finder rating 4.6 / 5 ★★★★★

See offer
on Bankrate's secure website
Young adults with good credit or higher who often travel should definitely check out this card. That's because you get to earn accelerated points on travel and dining. Plus, you can earn Chase's largest available signup bonus and you get a solid redemption rate on travel purchases.

Best overall cashback credit card

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Finder rating 4.7 / 5 ★★★★★

See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure website
Terms apply, see rates & fees
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is one of the best cashback cards you can currently get. Aside from earning generous cashback rates on a variety of categories, you also get to earn a solid signup bonus and you get to save money on interest with a 0% intro APR period. And you get all these benefits without paying an annual fee.

Best for students

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply now
on Capital One Bank®'s secure website
If you're a student, Capital One's new Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card comes with tremendous value. It is nearly identical to the standard SavorOne, trading the welcome offer and intro APR for a low barrier to entry. Plus, it earns big in the everyday categories you're likely to spend in most as a young adult.

Best for immigrants to the US

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Finder rating 4.5 / 5 ★★★★★

Apply now
on Capital One Bank®'s secure website
The Capital One Platinum Credit Card allows you to apply with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) if you don't have a Social Security Number. This makes it a good choice to start building credit if you've just arrived in the US and you're not necessarily a student.

How we selected our top cards

We compared all credit cards based on rewards, annual fee, interest-free period and other perks, and we selected the cards that are most useful to young adults.

What’s changed in 2021?

With the last year update, Chase Freedom Flex℠ is now the most rewarding cashback card with no annual fee. We’ve also added two new cards to our list: the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Platinum Credit Card.

3 reasons you should get a credit card as a young adult

There are a few major benefits to getting a credit card when you’re young.

  1. Build your credit score. This is the most important reason you want to start using a credit card as soon as possible. The longer you use a credit card, the better your credit history will be. If you build a great credit score early on, you’ll have the score necessary down the line for the most rewarding credit cards, mortgages and loans.
  2. Large variety of credit card options. There are a surprising number of credit cards available to those with no previous credit score. These cards have more favorable terms compared to cards designed for fair or poor credit and may even come with rewards.
  3. Earn rewards. The sooner you can start earning points on your everyday purchases, the sooner you can reward yourself with cash back, travel, gift cards or more. You’re making money for spending money!

How to pick the best credit card for you

Choosing the right credit card when you’re young comes down to your short-term financial needs and long-term financial goals. Here are a few things to consider as you’re making your decisions.

Consider your immediate financial need.

This is the easiest and most important place to start. Outside of building credit, do you need to save interest on existing debts? Or do you need an interest-free period to load up on college expenditures? Or are you especially jazzed about earning card rewards? Your financial need will directly affect the pool of cards you’re best off obtaining, whether it’s an intro APR card or a rewards card.

Review your existing credit score.

Your credit score influences which credit cards you can qualify for – the higher the score, the better. A poor credit score will lock you out of many options, so understanding your credit score range can help you choose based on the cards you’re most likely to approve you.

Look for the benefits most appealing to you.

Different types of cards will come with different kinds of benefits to suit your financial needs. Some balance transfer cards, for example, may come with a balance transfer fee waiver for a limited time, and rewards cards may offer travel or purchase protections. Once you’ve chosen the type of card you want, these nitty-gritty details are where you should look next.

Look for a low APR.

As a best practice, you should strive to pay off your monthly credit card statement in full at the end of each billing period. But if you need to carry a balance, you’ll want a card with as low an APR as possible.

Everyday rewards are the best credit cards for millennials

We’ve had plenty of inquiries about the best credit cards for millennials, who are collectively approaching the tail end of “young adult.” Given millennials are perennially beset by economic woes, most have turned to cashback rewards cards on everyday purchases as their cards of choice. Some of our favorite cards for this purpose include:

  • Citi Custom Cash℠ Card. This cashback card makes it easy to maximize rewards each month since you don’t have to worry about spending categories.
  • Citi® Double Cash Card. The Citi® Double Cash Card is another great choice thanks to above average 2% rate on all purchases with no cap.
  • Blue Cash Preferred. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is one of the most lucrative everyday cashback cards on the market and is particularly great for groceries if you don’t mind the card’s annual fee.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Chase’s flat rate card spices up its 1.5% rate with several larger earning categories, including 3% back on dining and drugstores and 5% back on travel booked through Chase.
  • Credit cards for young adults

    Here are a few of our favorite cards for young adults looking to start building their credit. You can select up to 4 cards and select Compare to view them side by side.

    Name Product Filter values Minimum deposit required Purchase APR Annual fee Minimum Credit Score
    Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
    N/A
    26.99% variable
    $0
    580
    Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or get 1.25% cash back for months you pay on time.
    Citi® Secured Mastercard®
    Starting at $200
    22.49% variable
    $0
    New to credit
    A no annual fee secured card for people who are new to credit or have limited credit history.
    Deserve® Edu Card
    N/A
    18.74% variable
    $0
    580
    Designed for college students to build credit history and earn rewards.
    loading

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Bottom line

    The sooner you can get and start using your first credit card responsibly, the sooner you can take advantage of a strong credit score. Take your time, evaluate your options and pay off your card debt in full every month to get off on the right foot. With enough time, you’ll be able to take your pick from some of the best credit cards on the market.

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