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Starter Credit Cards

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If you've never had a U.S. loan or credit card under your name, have had one for less than 3 years or have misused credit in the past, getting a starter credit card is one of the best ways to build up your credit. The credit cards listed below are classified as starter credit cards because they are specifically designed to help people start building a solid credit history. Depending on your exact needs, you can use the filters on the left to customize and limit your search to starter credit cards for bad credit, new to credit starter credit cards or starter credit cards for students. Whether you get one of the starter credit cards for people with no credit or one of their bad credit counterparts, just remember to pay your bills on time and not to charge more than your credit limit. Your credit score will thank…show more

    Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

    capital one quicksilverone cash rewards credit card
    • 0% Purchases until September 2015
    • 0% Transfers Not Offered
    • Regular Rate 22.9% (V)
    Apply Now at issuer's secure site
    • Annual Fee $39
    • Rewards Cash Back
    • Initial Bonus None
    • Earn Rate 1.5% cash back
    • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
    • No rotating categories and no sign ups needed to earn cash rewards.
    • Redeem the cash back you earn for any amount, any time.
    • Cash back doesn't expire and there’s no limit to how much you can earn

    Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

    capital one standard platinum
    • 0% Purchases Not Offered
    • 0% Transfers Not Offered
    • Regular Rate 24.9% (V)
    Apply Now at issuer's secure site
    • Annual Fee $0 for 1st yr, $19 after
    • Rewards None

    Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

    capital one secured credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $49, $99, or $200
    • Annual Fee $29
    • Monthly Fee None
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 22.9% (V)
    Apply Now at issuer's secure site

    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)
    Apply Now at issuer's secure site
    • Annual Fee $39
    • Rewards None

    Primor® Secured Visa Gold Credit Card

    primor secured visa gold card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • Annual Fee $49
    • Monthly Fee None
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 9.99% (V)
    Apply Now at issuer's secure site

    First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card

    Secured Credit Card Application from First Progress
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $300
    • Annual Fee $39
    • Monthly Fee None
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 14.99% (V)
    Apply Now at issuer's secure site

    First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card

    Platinum Secured Credit Card from First Progress
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $300
    • Annual Fee $29
    • Monthly Fee None
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 19.99% (V)
    Apply Now at issuer's secure site

    First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card

    MasterCard Secured Card from FirstProgress
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $300
    • Annual Fee $44
    • Monthly Fee None
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 11.99% (V)
    Apply Now at issuer's secure site
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    We work hard to present you with the most accurate credit card information, however, this information does not originate from us and thus, we do not guarantee the accuracy of the information.

    Before you apply for a credit card we recommend that you review and verify the credit card terms and conditions on the credit card company's web site. Please let us know if you find any differences.

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    Ask our Experts

    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.

    Help others find the best credit card by sharing what your deciding factor was when choosing your card (customer service, interest rate, fees, convenience, rewards, etc.)

    November 18, 2014
    Photo of Joey O.
    By: Joey Okstone
    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.
    October 7, 2014
    Photo of John H.
    By: John Hardy
    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 $1,000 by the time summer hits. It is great getting a new card regardless of all the strings attached to it. It is what it is; I am going to work real to keep and maintain this card. Hopefully I can apply for a better card in a few years.
    November 14, 2014
    Photo of Niko A.
    Niko Arenas
    great post john!
    August 28, 2014
    Photo of Peter M.
    By: Peter Mandell
    I just cleared Bankruptcy and am looking for a Credit Card to rebuild credit. Any advice? Several have turned me down.
    August 21, 2014
    Photo of Christina C.
    By: Christina Cortez
    My first card was when i had just got into college, i Had gotten it just incase i didn't have enough money for books and expenses. The limit was only 500 and the interest was a little high. It wasn't a terrible card non the less. I did pass the limit one time because of a emergency but the company was nice enough to excuse it for me which was great. After a few months the amount when up to 750$. I do think there are some great starter credit cards out there but they are few and hard to find.
    November 14, 2014
    Photo of Niko A.
    Niko Arenas
    glad to hear you were able to buy your books chris!
    July 30, 2014
    Photo of Lenny D.
    By: Lenny Deadski
    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.
    July 10, 2014
    Photo of Lytto L.
    By: Lytto Lee
    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 more
    June 17, 2014
    Photo of Tim S.
    By: Tim Shaw
    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
    Photo of Dustin M.
    By: Dustin Martin
    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 more
    February 4, 2014
    Photo of Lucy M.
    By: Lucy Morgan
    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.
    February 4, 2014
    Photo of Seth H.
    By: Seth Hughes
    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 more
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