2013's Best Credit Cards for Graduates

Last update: May 31, 2013
2013's Best Credit Cards for Graduates
Whether you will soon be graduating high school or college, it’s imperative that you begin building credit as soon as possible. One’s credit history influences loan approval, interest rates, insurance premiums, the likelihood of being able to lease a car or an apartment, and suitability for professions that require the handling of money or a security clearance. In other words, the sooner you maximize your credit, the more money you’ll save over the course of your lifetime and the easier the “real world” will be to deal with.
Of all the financial products that help consumers build credit, credit cards are the most efficient because they allow users to add positive information to their major credit reports on a monthly basis by simply keeping their accounts in good standing.
But all credit cards aren’t created equal. They have drastically different approval requirements, rates, rewards, and fees. That’s why we labeled our choices for the Best Credit Cards for Graduates – selected from more than 1,000 available offers – with either “College Grads” or “High School Grads.”
  • College Grads

    Offers 1% cash back across all purchases as well as a 25% rewards bonus when you submit a payment on time and does not have an annual fee. In other words, if you pay your bill on time, you get 1.25% cash back across all purchases, which is better than what the average cash back credit card for excellent credit offers.
  • College Grads

    In addition to a $100 rewards bonus for spending at least $500 during the first 90 days, cardholders earn 3% cash back on gas and 2% on groceries (up to a $1,500 quarterly spending limit in those two expense categories). You’ll also get 1% cash back on everything else, plus a 10% rewards bonus when you redeem rewards directly into a Bank of America checking or savings account. This card does not have an annual fee.
  • College Grads

    This card gives you 2% cash back on the first $250 you spend at gas stations and restaurants each month, 0.25% cash back on all other purchases up to $3,000 in annual spending, and 1% across purchases once you’ve reached that threshold. It does not charge an annual fee.
  • College Grads

    You won’t be charged interest for the first 15 months you have this card, which doesn’t charge an annual fee. There is, however, a 3% balance transfer fee, and a regular APR of 10.99% - 20.99% will take effect upon the 0% introductory term’s conclusion. A credit card calculator can therefore help you devise a debt payoff plan that allows you to maximize your savings.
  • High School Grads

    Gives you 2% cash back on travel purchases as well as 1% cash back on everything else and does not charge an annual fee.
  • High School Grads

    This secured card, which requires a minimum security deposit of $300, stands out because it does not charge an annual fee. Your deposit will serve as your credit line and will be returned to you with interest, minus any outstanding balances, upon account closure. Cardholders also get a $10 Harley-Davidson gift certificate after first purchase as well as one rewards point for every dollar they charge.

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