With loads of credit-building options available for new grads, it can be difficult to figure out the best credit card perks. Some credit cards come with amazing benefits and money-saving features — you just have to know how to go about picking a credit card and what perks are the sign of a good one.
Whether you’re researching a MasterCard, Visa, Discover, or American Express card, look over the standard benefits before you apply. These can be found on your credit card company’s website or by searching the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s credit card agreement database.
Here’s what to look for in the best credit cards for young adults.
Price and purchase protection
A good first credit card will include price and purchase protection. Price protection helps you find the best-priced item within a specific time period. If you make a purchase using your credit card and find a lower price on the same item, the credit card company will refund you the difference.
Purchase protection, also called damage protection, insures your purchases from accidental damage or theft. The timeframe and exact amount of each kind of protection vary with the credit card you choose.
Most cards also come with extended warranties for purchases in the event the item is defective. This could save you a lot of money over the long run, so make sure it comes standard with whatever kind of credit card you choose.
Fraud protection alerts
The best starter credit card will also come with fraud protection. This perk alerts you when suspicious activity is posted to your account.
In the event your card is stolen or lost, you want to make sure you’re protected from fraudulent charges. Alerts can save time, preventing the thief from making more purchases and helping you recognize the theft faster.
Rewards on-time payments
Some cards actually reward users with an increased credit limit after paying the bill on time for several months. In addition, seek out perks like having the first late payment fee waived and no penalty APR.
Rewards like this can motivate you to establish good spending habits — an essential benefit of any good first credit card.
No excessive fees
As a new college graduate, it’s often difficult to find a low-fee credit card since your credit history is limited. Still, do your best to seek out the best credit cards for college graduates with as few fees as possible.
While it’s not practical to avoid every type of fee, here are some of the most common ones you’ll want to limit:
- Balance transfer fee
- Super high interest rate
- Finance charges
- Foreign transaction fee
- Over-the-limit fee
- Late payment fee
- Cash advance fee
No annual fee
If you’re unable to find a card that has very few fees, prioritize the best credit cards for young adults without an annual fee. This is a fee you pay once a year to own the card and access premium benefits. However, this type of charge is usually not the worth the price as a new college grad.
The perks of premium credit cards may be tempting, but it’s more important to keep your hard-earned money. Choose a credit card with no annual fee.
Relevant rewards categories
Look for the best starter credit card that gives cash back rewards or points on purchases in the categories you spend the most.
If most of the purchases you’ll make with this new card will likely be social or entertainment related, make sure the card will reward you accordingly. Check out the rewards program attached to the card to be sure you can cash these rewards in for things you actually want, such as a cash deposit into your checking account or a statement credit.
Reports to all three credit bureaus
As you’re building credit, it’s important to choose a credit card that reports to all three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Establishing a good history of credit using a credit card is a good start, but it takes time.
While most credit card companies do report the transaction history to these credit bureaus, not all of them do. That makes this an important perk to seek out as you research the best credit cards for young adults.
Free FICO score monitoring
In addition to credit bureau reporting, choose a credit card that includes free FICO score monitoring. You should be able to access your credit score on a monthly basis. This is a fairly new feature, but one that can help you keep track of your credit score and monitor how your credit history is stacking up.
Obviously, you want to look for a financial institution that offers a credit card with mobile-friendly access to your account. You’ll track your purchases and check in on your account more often if you can access it from anywhere.
A great place to look for your first credit card is with the bank you currently use. They will usually be able to use your past history with the bank as a way of improving your chances of getting approved for a better credit card.
When looking for the best credit cards for young adults, take your time to read through the list of benefits and fees. Then use this checklist to ensure you maximize your spending while staying away from excessive credit card fees.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.23% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 6.23%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|