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Starter Credit Cards

Starter Credit Cards

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 you.

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    Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

    capital one quicksilverone cash rewards credit card
    • 0% PURCHASES until June 2015
    • 0% TRANSFERS Not Offered
    • REGULAR RATE 22.9% (V)
    ANNUAL FEE $39
    REWARDS Cash Back
    BONUS None
    BASE EARN 1.5%
    MAX EARN 1.5%
    • 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

     
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    3.5

    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 None
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    4

    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)
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    4

    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 None
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    3

    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)
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    3.5

    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)
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    3

    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)
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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
    EXPERT’S ANSWERS

    Who Needs a Starter Credit Card?

    By: Odysseas PapadimitriouMost 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 PapadimitriouEveryone 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 PapadimitriouThe 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

    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.)

     
    October 12, 2014
    Photo of Keri N.
    By: Keri Nichols
    I got my first credit card when I was 20 years old. I never had a credit card before and didn't even know I was applying for one till after I had the card. My dad helped me to establish credit when I was in college which was the reason I was accepted for the card. I had no idea how a credit card worked so I abused it pretty badly. I now have a secure credit card to help me build my credit. The fee was 25 dollars a year for the card but is completely worth it. Customer service is amazing and help you through everything. I don't more
    October 4, 2014
    Photo of Darnell C.
    By: Darnell Carey
    I got my first credit card from Wells Fargo when I was in college. My credit limit was only $500 and I don’t remember the APY but I was rather high. If I could change anything I would increase the credit limit and decrease the APY.
    August 26, 2014
    Photo of Joseph A.
    By: Joseph Alston
    I currently have only limited credit, so I had to get a special Visa card for people in my situation. It has a lot of restrictions on it, but I understand why. My experience with it has been good so far. I make sure I pay everything on time when I do use the card, and I make sure to keep my spending within my budget. The restrictions placed on this card goes a long way in doing that, so I'm grateful for that. I would get rid of the $40 monthly fee if I had to name one change I wanted to make. The card's low interest rate is more
    June 23, 2014
    Photo of Joseph B.
    By: Joseph Broski
    I had no credit history and was forced to resort to a secured card when I was younger. I had tried to apply for store cards beforehand due to their lower standards. Do not make the same mistake I did! All of those credit checks really hurt me when I should have just gone for the guaranteed option.
    April 15, 2014
    Photo of Tonya M.
    By: Tonya Millson
    I got my first credit card from Capital One. I had applied to many different companies but was always denied because I didn't have any credit history. I am a college student so I wanted to avoid paying any kind of annual fee. I looked into a secured credit card but I didn't have the money for one of those either. I felt pretty stuck because my denied applications weren't helping my case. Capital One offers a student credit card which I luckily was accepted for! My credit limit is very low but it gets the job done, that being establishing my credit score. My interest rate is very high more
    March 15, 2014
    Photo of William B.
    By: William Boffa
    I have a credit card that didn't require any credit history. I lived overseas at the time and it was a card with a low limit and only one small yearly fee, specifically intended as somebody's first credit card, allowing people to build their credit rating. It's been very useful to me and over the years it's allowed me to apply for higher limits and so on. The Capital One Secured Mastercard seems to fit a similar description, with no fees except for a yearly $29 fee.
    December 3, 2013
    Photo of Lisa P.
    By: Lisa Painter
    convenience and rewards.