Getting a credit card is practically a rite of passage to adulthood. But after seeing the horrors of debt in action (thanks, Great Recession!), many millennials are skipping their starter credit cards. In fact, only a third of adults ages 18 to 29 have a credit card.
Though refusing to get a credit card will keep you out of debt, it also keeps you from building credit — and there are plenty of reasons why having a credit card is important and even beneficial.
If you don’t have a credit card, it’s time to get one. Start with these seven starter credit cards for people with no credit. These cards are low-cost, easy to qualify for, and some even allow you to earn credit card rewards.
1. Discover it Student Chrome Card
College is a smart time to start building credit, thanks to starter credit cards geared toward students. Credit card issuers won’t expect students to have much credit, so approval is more likely. Plus, student credit cards still offer plenty of perks.
The Discover it Student Chrome Card is an excellent example. With no annual fee, cardholders get 1% cash back on all purchases. That’s doubled to 2% back on gas station and restaurant purchases (up to $1,000 a quarter). Plus, whatever cash back you earn will be doubled after the first year you hold the card.
Even your good grades pay off: Discover it Student Chrome gives $20 cash back for each school year the cardholder maintains a 3.0 GPA or higher.
2. BankAmericard Credit Card for Students
The BankAmericard Credit Card for Students has the lowest APR of any credit card offered by Bank of America. Along with a low rate, the BankAmericard has a 0% introductory rate for 18 months and no annual fee.
Along with low costs, the BankAmericard is relatively easy to qualify for and it can be a great tool to build credit. Cardholders get free monthly FICO score updates and access to educational resources on building credit, budgeting, and other financial topics. The card also has a fixed payment date so borrowers always know when their next payment is due.
3. Chase Slate Visa
The Chase Slate card is one of the cheapest starter credit cards for people with no credit, and even applicants with limited or average credit can get approved for this card.
That’s because the Chase Slate card has no annual fee or penalty APRs. You also skip the fee for credit card balance transfers made in the first 60 days after opening the account, and it has a 0% introductory rate for the first 15 months.
This gives you a low-cost card that will help you build responsible credit card habits without facing high interest or fees.
4. Capital One Platinum MasterCard
The Capital One Platinum MasterCard has a higher APR, but carries no annual fee. It only requires fair or average credit for approval. This puts it among accessible starter credit cards ideal for building credit.
Capital One Platinum cardholders also get access to the CreditWise tool which has free credit updates and suggestions to improve your score. Cardholders can even choose a personalized due date, so you can pick the time of month when you have the most cash on-hand.
Lastly, Capital One offers an automatic credit limit increase for borrowers who make five monthly payments on time.
5. Capital One QuickSilverOne Cash Rewards MasterCard
The QuickSilverOne Cash Rewards MasterCard is another option from Capital One that only requires average credit. This card offers many of the same credit-building benefits as the Platinum card, but borrowers have the option to earn cash back on purchases, making this a smart option for bigger spenders.
The QuickSilverOne card offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no limits. Cardholders can redeem the rewards they earn at any time, and they never expire.
Cardholders will face an annual fee of $39, but those who spend $220 or more a month on this card will easily earn more in rewards than the annual fee costs.
6. Discover it Secured Card
If you have no credit or are working to rebuild a poor credit history, a secured credit card might be the place to start. To get a secured credit card, you make a cash deposit equal to your credit limit. Secured credit cards are more accessible and easier to get approved for, as long as you have the cash for a deposit.
The Discover it Secured Card is a great choice, thanks to no annual fee and the ability to earn up to 2% cash back on purchases. The minimum deposit is $200, but can be as much as $2,500. There are also no penalty APRs and no fee for your first late payment.
You’ll also build credit, as the Discover it Secured Card reports to all three major credit bureaus. Discover will automatically re-evaluate you each month and switch you to an unsecured card when you meet the requirements.
7. Starter credit cards from credit unions
As not-for-profit financial institutions, credit unions often can operate on thinner margins which results in low-cost products and flexible credit requirements. If you’re a member of a credit union, you probably have access to a great, low-cost credit card that you could get approved for.
To get a credit union credit card, contact your credit union and explain your situation. Knowing that you don’t have much credit, a representative can point you to a card that both meets your needs and has credit requirements you’re likely to pass.
Some great starter credit cards from credit unions include the fee-free PenFed Promise Visa card. This card currently has a $100 sign-up bonus for charging $1,500 to the card in the first 90 days. The GTE Financial Platinum Visa card is also from a credit union, offers low APRs, and has no annual fee.
Getting starter credit cards can be a smart move, but only if you use a new card wisely. In addition to researching credit cards, you need to understand how to avoid credit card interest and debt. Paying off balances each month and always paying on time are crucial, responsible credit card habits.
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