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Starter Credit Cards

Opening a starter credit card is a great way to improve your credit standing if you've: 1) never had a U.S. loan or credit card under your name, 2) you’ve have had one for less than 3 years, or 3) you’ve misused credit in the past. Given that starter credit cards are designed specifically for individuals with bad or no credit as well as students and immigrants, they should be relatively easy to get approved for but probably won’t offer eye-catching rewards or very low interest rates.Your objective in choosing one of these beginner credit cards (some of which…show more

    Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card


    capital one quicksilverone cash rewards credit card
    • 0% Purchases until December 2015
    • 0% Transfers until December 2015No Transfer Fee
    • Regular Rate 22.9% (V)
    • Annual Fee $39
    • Rewards Rate 1.5% cash back
    • Rewards Bonus None
    • Minimum Credit Fair, Limited History

    Capital One® Platinum Credit Card


    capital one standard platinum
    • 0% Purchases Not Offered
    • 0% Transfers Not Offered
    • Regular Rate 24.9% (V)
    • Annual Fee $0 for 1st yr, $19 after
    • Rewards Rate None
    • Minimum Credit Fair, Limited History
    • Start with no annual fee for the first year; $19 after that.
    • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time.
    • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen.
    • Use online banking to access your account–even from your smartphone with our mobile app.
    • Pay by check, online, or at a local branch, all with no fee—and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
    • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • Get free access to your monthly credit score and credit tips using Capital One® Credit Tracker
    • See All Reviews & Details About The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

    Capital One® Secured MasterCard®


    capital one secured credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $49, $99, or $200
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 22.9% (V)
    • Annual Fee $29
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Limited History, Bad
    • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
    • Get free access to your credit score and learn how everyday decisions can affect your score using Capital One® Credit Tracker
    • Your minimum security deposit gets you a $200 credit line
    • You may qualify for a credit line increase based on your payment history and creditworthiness—no additional deposit required
    • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
    • It’s a credit card—accepted at millions of locations worldwide
    • See All Reviews & Details About The Capital One® Secured MasterCard®

    Capital One® Classic Platinum Credit Card


    capital one classic platinum credit card
    • 0% Purchases Not Offered
    • 0% Transfers Not Offered
    • Regular Rate 20.9% (V)
    • Annual Fee $39
    • Rewards Rate None
    • Minimum Credit Fair, Limited History
    • Get the credit you need with a competitive rate
    • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time.
    • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen.
    • Use online banking to access your account–even from your smartphone with our mobile app.
    • Pay by check, online, or at a local branch, all with no fee—and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
    • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • Get free access to your credit score and learn how everyday decisions can affect your score using Capital One® Credit Tracker.
    • See All Reviews & Details About The Capital One® Classic Platinum Credit Card

    Primor® Secured Visa Gold Credit Card


    primor secured gold credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 9.99%
    • Annual Fee $49
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Fair, Limited History, Bad

    Open SkySM Secured Visa® Credit Card


    open sky credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 17.5% (V)
    • Annual Fee $29
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Limited History, Bad
    • Build Your Credit, with monthly updates to all 3 credit bureaus.
    • Control Your Finances, start with a security deposit and credit line as low as $200.
    • Extra Credit When You Need It, increase your credit line up to $5000.
    • Avoid paying interest, no interest charged on new purchases if the balance is paid in full by the due date each month.
    • Easy funding options, with 4 ways to fund and NO checking account needed.
    • After your Account is open for one year or more Capital Bank will charge you a Credit Limit Increase Fee of $25.00 each time you add Deposit Funds and increase the Credit Limit and a Credit Limit Decrease Request Fee of $25.00 each time you request a reduction in your Credit Limit.
    • Apply in less than 5 minutes.
    • See All Reviews & Details About The Open SkySM Secured Visa® Credit Card

    First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card


    first progress secured credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $300
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 14.99% (V)
    • Annual Fee $39
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Fair, Limited History, Bad
    • Full-feature Platinum MasterCard secured credit card.
    • No credit history or minimum credit score required for approval.
    • Monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus to help build credit.
    • Set your own credit limit, which is secured by your deposit of $300 - $2,000.
    • Deposit held at FDIC-insured bank.
    • 24/7 access to your account online.
    • The First Progress Platinum MasterCard Secured Card requires no credit history or minimum credit score for approval, but the refundable security deposit must be provided before a card can be issued. The new CARD Act regulations also require all credit card issuers to verify the identity of every applicant before approval. We can usually complete this identity verification using fast, automated methods, but it is sometimes necessary for us to contact an applicant in order to verify his or her identity. Applicants will receive their cards more quickly if they respond promptly to our call or letter relating to this verification process. Virtually every applicant who successfully provides the refundable security deposit and passes the identity verification step will be approved for the card. If you have applied for the card and have a question or want to check the status of your application, please call First Progress toll-free at (888) 403-4783.
    • Receive your card more quickly with new Expedited Processing option.
    • See All Reviews & Details About The First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card

    First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card


    platinum secured credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $300
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 19.99% (V)
    • Annual Fee $29
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Fair, Limited History, Bad
    • Full-feature Platinum MasterCard secured credit card.
    • No credit history or minimum credit score required for approval.
    • Monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus to help build credit.
    • Set your own credit limit, which is secured by your deposit of $300 - $2,000.
    • Deposit held at FDIC-insured bank.
    • 24/7 access to your account online.
    • The First Progress Platinum MasterCard Secured Card requires no credit history or minimum credit score for approval, but the refundable security deposit must be provided before a card can be issued. The new CARD Act regulations also require all credit card issuers to verify the identity of every applicant before approval. We can usually complete this identity verification using fast, automated methods, but it is sometimes necessary for us to contact an applicant in order to verify his or her identity. Applicants will receive their cards more quickly if they respond promptly to our call or letter relating to this verification process. Virtually every applicant who successfully provides the refundable security deposit and passes the identity verification step will be approved for the card. If you have applied for the card and have a question or want to check the status of your application, please call First Progress toll-free at (888) 403-4783.
    • Receive your card more quickly with new Expedited Processing option.
    • See All Reviews & Details About The First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card

    First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card


    first progress mastercard secured credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $300
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 11.99% (V)
    • Annual Fee $44
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Fair, Limited History, Bad
    • No credit history or minimum credit score required for approval.
    • Monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus to help build credit.
    • Deposit held at FDIC-insured bank.
    • Set your own credit limit, which is secured by your deposit of $300 - $2,000.
    • The First Progress Platinum MasterCard Secured Card requires no credit history or minimum credit score for approval, but the refundable security deposit must be provided before a card can be issued. The new CARD Act regulations also require all credit card issuers to verify the identity of every applicant before approval. We can usually complete this identity verification using fast, automated methods, but it is sometimes necessary for us to contact an applicant in order to verify his or her identity. Applicants will receive their cards more quickly if they respond promptly to our call or letter relating to this verification process. Virtually every applicant who successfully provides the refundable security deposit and passes the identity verification step will be approved for the card. If you have applied for the card and have a question or want to check the status of your application, please call First Progress toll-free at (888) 403-4783.
    • Receive your card more quickly with new Expedited Processing option.
    • See All Reviews & Details About The First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card
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    Expert’s Answers

    Who Needs a Starter Credit Card?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEOMost people consider their first credit card to be a “starter” credit card. As such, the types of people who typically use them include:
    1. Young People
    2. Immigrants
    3. Divorcees & Widowers (who haven’t had credit under their own name in the last few years)
    All of these groups tend to have minimal credit history, either because they haven’t been eligible to access credit for very long or because circumstances that previously allowed them to rely on another party’s credit standing have changed.

    Some of us may also seek out starter credit cards when looking to start our financial lives over after previous mistakes – such as missed payments, account default, or even bankruptcy.

    Why are Starter Credit Cards Necessary?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEOEveryone has to start somewhere. That, in a nutshell, is why starter credit cards are necessary. Consumers need a way to prove that they’re responsible enough to handle more robust financial products, such as a substantial home loan or a high line of credit.

    Starter credit cards offer the kind of low-risk environment in which unproven consumers can show what they’ve got without the potential losses being too high for banks. They tend to have modest credit limits, modest rewards, modest fees, and modest interest rates, but they do report usage information to the major credit bureaus on a monthly basis and therefore provide an exceptionally cost-effective means by which to build credit.

    What is a Good Starter Credit Card?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEOThe best type of starter credit card is easy to identify: It’s an offer catered to people with limited or no credit that does not charge any fixed fees. After all, your top two priorities at this stage in your credit career should be: 1) Simply getting approved; and 2) Laying the foundation for a good credit score at the lowest possible cost.

    College and graduate school students as well as recent graduates with active university e-mail addresses should obviously start out with student credit cards – which are a notch above other types of starter credit cards. Banks offer college students more attractive terms because they prize their above-average earning potential and the potential that exists for them to become lifelong customers. Students can expect to garner a card that does not charge an annual fee yet offers at least a 1% rewards earning rate or 0% for the first few months.

    Non-students with limited or no credit have a choice between unsecured credit cards for limited credit, store credit cards, and secured credit cards. A secured card represents your best bet for approval, as you are essentially guaranteed to get one if you can place a security deposit of at least $200 – which will serve as your credit line and thereby prevent overspending. Store credit cards can only be used at the particular retail chain they are affiliated with. For example, the Target REDcard can only be used to make purchases at Target. The appeal of store cards is that they tend to have fairly lenient approval standards (because the stores want more people spending more money at their locations) as well as some pretty lucrative rewards. Unsecured credit cards for limited credit, on the other hand, will offer you more spending power but may end up charging the highest fees.

    Based on the above, we recommend that you opt for whichever secured credit card charges the lowest annual fee. That way you can begin cost-effective credit building efforts as soon as possible in a relatively low-risk environment where you can practice responsible habits without the temptation to overspend. If you want to boost your credit building and rewards earning capabilities, you may also want to get a store card associated with one of your favorite retailers, as they are typically free to use.

    Our recommendation remains the same for consumers who have made credit management mistakes in the past – get a secured card, as it’s likely to offer basically guaranteed approval. We do not recommend getting an unsecured credit card for bad credit. By virtue of the fact that they’re targeted to people with a history of financial mismanagement and do not shield issuers from risk like secured cards, unsecured credit cards for bad credit tend to be less attractive than other unsecured starter credit cards and are less readily available. If you have damaged credit, you can learn more about your credit card options and the process of credit rebuilding in our Bad Credit Guide.

    Community Discussion

    Ask a question or help others find the best credit card by sharing some tips.

     
    Mar 16, 2015
    By:
    My starter credit card was through Capital One. I was approved out of high school with a credit limit of $300. After making payments on time for a decent amount of months I was given a credit limit increase to $500. I used card seldomly, only in cases where cash wasnt available. Considering I had no credit at the time I was approved, I can say I was extremely satisfied with how the process worked out. Capital One is a good company to deal with.
    Nov 18, 2014
    By:
    I did have a starter card when I was in college and I needed a credit card to buy books. I hated having to keep borrowing my parent’s credit cards. Mine was a student card from WellsFargo and my limit was $500. The interest rate was pretty high as well. It was fine to me at the time since I needed to build credit and I usually paid of my balance by the end of the month. I would recommend doing this to young people who need to build some credit.
    Oct 7, 2014
    By:
    I just applied for and received a new starter credit card two months ago. It is going well so far. I try to only use it for gas purchases. My limit is $200 right now. Hopefully I can get to $1,000 by the time summer hits. It is great getting a new card regardless of all the strings attached to it. It is what it is; I am going to work real to keep and maintain this card. Hopefully I can apply for a better card in a few years.
    Nov 14, 2014
    Photo of Niko A.
    great post john!
    Aug 28, 2014
    By:
    I just cleared Bankruptcy and am looking for a Credit Card to rebuild credit. Any advice? Several have turned me down.
    Aug 21, 2014
    By:
    My first card was when i had just got into college, i Had gotten it just incase i didn't have enough money for books and expenses. The limit was only 500 and the interest was a little high. It wasn't a terrible card non the less. I did pass the limit one time because of a emergency but the company was nice enough to excuse it for me which was great. After a few months the amount when up to 750$. I do think there are some great starter credit cards out there but they are few and hard to find.
    Nov 14, 2014
    Photo of Niko A.
    glad to hear you were able to buy your books chris!
    Jul 30, 2014
    By:
    I have truly awful credit. If i were to go to a loan officer and ask for a minuscule loan they would laugh in my face. Yet Capital One seems to approve my applications and hold me down. They approve almost anyone and give solid rates and fees. I remember my first Capitol One card it had a $500 dollar limit and a low introductory fee. They later raised the fee and I wasn't able to keep up on payments but it wasn't unreasonable; I just hit hard times. Go to Capitol One if you have bad credit.
    Jul 10, 2014
    By:
    I remember my first card. Got it during senior year of high school. It also had a $750 limit. I remember trying to be smart about it, not to go over my limit. I've always heard stories from my mother and Aunt about going over their limit. Everything was good until I let my Aunt use my credit card. The items she tried to order weren't available, so we thought everything was over and done with. When those items became available a month later, the company sent them out and charged my card. But by then I didn't have enough on the card to cover those charges, and we all know what happened next.

    That became the first time i ever went over my limit. That card never recovered from it. Many cards came after it, and they shared the same over drawn fate. Now I only use Rush Cards (which are good for people starting out or needing to fix their credit).
    Jun 17, 2014
    By:
    My first starter card was the Discover Student card. The interest rates were a little higher than average, but I paid my card off monthly, so that was not a problem. I got 1% cash back on everything and 5% on select categories that changed each quarter. It was a good card to earn cash back on my daily purchases and it was a good way to start building my credit while I was still in college. Discover is not quite as widely accepted as Mastercard or Visa though, so that was a minor setback.
    May 18, 2014
    By:
    I got a starter card when they were giving away free pizza and t-shirts at college. Not the best reason to choose a card, but they knew what college kids liked. It was a Bank of America card with a limit of 500 dollars. It served my purpose as I really didn't have a lot of expenses except for going out with my friends occasionally. It had a really high interest rate, around 30%, but I rarely used it or paid it off whenever I did. Eventually the limit was raised to over a 1000 but I stopped using the card once I got a job. It was a great starter card for me, but I can see how it would be bad for some people who have problems managing their finances.
    Feb 4, 2014
    By:
    I like the First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard. Although the annual fee is a little high, the interest rate of about 12% can't be beat. This would be a great card to get if you're someone trying to establish initial credit.
    Feb 4, 2014
    By:
    I got my starter credit card during my first year of college. I had very little credit history and everything I owned had been cosigned for up to that point. My card was through 1st Financial Bank USA. My interest rate was about 20% and I had a starting limit of $250. The more I used the card and paid off my bill, the more the bank raised my limit. Eventually, my limit got all the way up to $4000. The company eventually raised my interest rate without my knowing. It was in the fine print on one of my bills. It went all the way to 29%!! I called and told them about three years after having the card that I would be cancelling it unless they waived my annual fee, which they did. Starter cards are for establishing credit. After that, move on to something better.
    Jan 27, 2014
    By:
    My first credit card was issued by the bank at which I had my checking account (SunTrust, in case you're curious). It had a conservative credit line ($450, if I remember correctly), though I have to admit I don't know if I ever knew what the interest rate was. My objective in getting it was never to run a balance, only to build my credit rating.

    From what I understand, this is still one of the best ways to get your first credit card. In my case, my checking account required that I keep a minimum balance of $2k at all times (if it went below that, there were fees). So they could be pretty comfortable that I was a good risk, and in turn I got to start building my credit rating and also start to feel like an adult (I was only 17 at the time. :).

    My biggest deciding factor was basically that they were willing to give me this card. I gotta admit, when you're just starting out, the decisions aren't really yours to make; it's up to the bank to decide whether they want to take a chance on you. Still, I think starting with a card from whatever bank holds your checking account is probably one of the easiest routes to go when just getting started.
    Jan 14, 2014
    By:
    My first credit card was the Capital One Platinum. I signed up for this card roughly three years ago with a "fair" credit history. Though the interest rate was higher, I was just happy to be approved for a card, especially from an established bank like Capital One. After maybe 3 or 4 payments, my credit line increased from $300 to $500 and was up to $1000 after just one year. Because of my responsible use, I was then able to get approved for the green Cash Rewards card.
    Mar 6, 2014
    Photo of Jackie F.
    I had a similar experience with Capital One. They approved me for a credit card with no credit history. I started with a very low limit, I believe it was $200. After I built up history with them, they increased my limit. They are a good bank to get credit established with. Once you have good credit though, I recommend looking for a rewards card or a card with a lower APR.
    Dec 30, 2013
    By:
    I think everyone has used a starter card at some point, unless they were lucky enough to get listed as a co-signer on loans to help build their credit early on. These starter cards are great for getting your feet wet with credit. I’d suggest a secured credit card first because you are guaranteed to get approved and since the limit is based on your deposit, you don’t have to worry about overspending. I used a US Bank secured card to help me rebuild my credit after a bankruptcy, and was very happy with it.
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