You're smart! You're smart because you're seeking the BEST first credit card. And the first card is arguably the most important. That's because your first card sets you up for future success. Once you learn how to use the first card responsibly, your credit score rises. Then you can apply for even better cards. Your credit will continue to rise. Pretty soon you're buying a car, house, boat – you name it! This article will help all of that become reality.
But first, let's set your expectations. You may be used to hearing ads on television touting things like 'unlimited cashback,' 'free travel miles,' and 'if you use our card enough, you'll get a spaceship.' While these things (sans spaceship) are available, they aren't available on starter cards.
Your first credit card is like your first car. It's not your dream car, but it'll get you places. If you stay alive long enough (and are financially responsible), you'll get your dream car. So after you do well with your first card, come back to LendingTree and check out the top five credit cards for good credit.
Best First Credit Card Options
Primor® Secured Visa Classic Card
Introducing the best little card you've never heard of. The primor® Secured Visa Classic card is a wise choice. Just make sure you have at least $100 more in income than expenses.
The card also offers guaranteed approval. This means you're well on your way to obtaining your first card. The card does report to all three credit bureaus – meaning your score will climb fast with responsible use.
The only disadvantage is that there's an annual fee. But, that's nearly unavoidable when choosing your first card (especially if it's a secured card). The annual fee is $39. The interest rate (in case you plan on carrying a balance) is a low 13.99% fixed. If you'd rather have a higher annual fee and an even lower interest rate, you can choose the primor® Secured Visa Gold card.
Capital One® Secured MasterCard®
Dislike paying an annual fee? Understandable. This card has no annual fee. Your payments are also reported to all three of the major credit bureaus. The interest rate is high – 24.99% but that's irrelevant if you pay off your balance each month. The minimum security deposit is only $49. That's really low and it means you can probably get started with the card very quickly. For a larger line of credit, you can up your deposit to $200.
Discover it® Secured Credit Card - No Annual Fee*
Discover has quite a lineup of 'it' cards. The best first credit card option out of the bunch would be the Discover it® Secured Credit Card - No Annual Fee*. It has no annual fee*. The interest is high – 23.24% variable*. But again, if you trust yourself not to carry a balance, the interest rate is irrelevant.
The best part about this card is that it has rewards! It's very, very rare to find a secured card with a rewards program – nonetheless a good one. The Discover it® Secured Credit Card - No Annual Fee* offers 1% cash back on every purchase and 2% cash back on restaurants or fuel stations (up to $1,000). And at the end of the year, the cash back is doubled.
Discover also offers a free credit score and Freeze It protection. That's where you can easily and quickly deactivate your credit card. This is handy if you forget it somewhere or want to stop yourself from using it for a time.
Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard®
This is a wild card option because the typical person approved for this card has fair credit. But that can be a FICO score as low as 550. It's important to remember when choosing your first card that, despite never having had a credit card, you may still have a credit score. This is the case if you've taken out a student loan, for instance. Don't assume that just because you've never had a card before that you must settle for a secured card. Check to see if you have a score.
The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard® (it's a mouthful) has no annual fee. The interest rate is a variable 25.24%. The Barclaycard offers 2% cash back rewards on fuel, groceries and utilities and 1% cash back on all other purchases. This card, like the Discover it® card, offers free credit score reporting from its online dashboard. But this card trumps the Discover card in that the cardholder receives alerts when their score changes.
Tips for Using Your New Card Responsibly
Don't be afraid of credit cards. There is nothing inherently evil about them. People may blame credit cards for their problems, but that's never the real issue.
If you choose never to carry a balance, you'll never have a problem. For your first credit card, use it like a debit card. Never charge more than you can pay off each month.
Keep an eye on your credit score. Make a game out of it. See how quickly it rises.
As your credit score rises, you'll be able to upgrade to better cards. Some credit cards come with extremely cool rewards like free airport lounge access, free concierge services and more. But for now, choose the card from the list above which seems like the best first credit card for your current situation.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.