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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

    3.5 2,793 reviews

    Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card


    quicksilverone rewards
    • Purchase Intro APR 0% until February 2017
    • Transfer Intro APR 0% until February 2017 No Transfer Fee
    • Regular APR 23.24% (V)
    • Annual Fee $39
    • Rewards Rate 1.5% Cash Back
    • Rewards Bonus None
    • Minimum Credit Limited History
    • Rewards Details
    • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
    • No rotating categories or sign ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back doesn’t expire and there’s no limit to how much you can earn
    • Additional Info
    • 0% intro APR on purchases until February 2017; 23.24% variable APR after that
    • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
    • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen
    • Travel & Emergency Assistance - Available 24/7 to help connect you with local emergency and assistance resources when you're away from home
    • Extended Warranty - automatically doubles the original manufacturer's/store's warranty on eligible purchases
    • MasterRental® Insurance - use your card to rent an eligible vehicle and you’re covered for collision, damage, and loss
    • Master RoadAssist® Service - take advantage of 24 hour toll-free dispatch to help with services like towing, fuel delivery, and more
    • See More Details & Reviews About The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
    3.5 2,023 reviews

    Capital One® Platinum Credit Card


    capital one platinum
    • Purchase Intro APR Not Offered
    • Transfer Intro APR Not Offered
    • Regular APR 24.99% (V)
    • Annual Fee None
    • Rewards Rate None
    • Minimum Credit Limited History
    • Rewards Details
    • Additional Info
    • Pay no annual fee
    • 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
    • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
    • See More Details & Reviews About The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card
    4 5,235 reviews

    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 24.99% (V)
    • Annual Fee None
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Bad
    • Rewards Details
    • Additional Info
    • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
    • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
    • 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 with 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 More Details & Reviews About The Capital One® Secured MasterCard®
    3 712 reviews

    Primor® Secured Visa Gold Credit Card


    primor secured visa gold card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 9.99%
    • Annual Fee $49
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Bad
    3.5 2,474 reviews

    Open SkySM Secured Visa® Credit Card


    open sky credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 17.64% (V)
    • Annual Fee $35
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Bad
    • Rewards Details
    • Additional Info
    • 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 $3000.
    • 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 More Details & Reviews About The Open SkySM Secured Visa® Credit Card
    3 1,578 reviews

    First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card


    first progress platinum select mastercard
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 14.99% (V)
    • Annual Fee $39
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Bad
    • Rewards Details
    • Additional Info
    • 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 $200 - $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 More Details & Reviews About The First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card
    3.5 890 reviews

    First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card


    first progress platinum elite mastercard
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 14.99% (V)
    • Annual Fee $39
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Bad
    • Rewards Details
    • Additional Info
    • 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 $200 - $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 More Details & Reviews About The First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card
    3 626 reviews

    First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card


    first progress platinum prestige mastercard secured credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 11.99% (V)
    • Annual Fee $44
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Bad
    • Rewards Details
    • Additional Info
    • 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 $200 - $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 More Details & Reviews About The First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card
    3.5 325 reviews

    USAA Secured Cards® American Express® Card


    usaa secured credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $250
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 10.15% - 20.15% (V)
    • Annual Fee $35
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Bad
    • Rewards Details
    • Additional Info
    • Best for members rebuilding or establishing credit. It's a real credit card — not a debit or prepaid card
    • Determine your own credit limit ($250 to $5,000) with an interest-earning CD.
    • Retail and Travel Benefits: Collision damage waiver coverage pays for physical damage and theft to most rental vehicles.Identity theft resolutions services provides assistance should you become the victim of identity theft.Extended warranty extends your manufacturers or U.S. store brand warranties for up to one year.Travel accident insurance provides coverage for you and your family members when your card is used to purchase common carrier travel tickets.
    • Security: Chip card technology has added security when used at a chip-enabled terminal and greater acceptance worldwide.You are not liable for unauthorized purchases. Get account balances and transaction history by sending a text message.Access your account on usaa.com or from a mobile device.
    • Special Benefits for Military: Get 4% APR on all balances for up to 12 months during deployment or PCS. After 12 months, the regular APR of between 10.15% and 20.15% will apply. This rate will vary with the market based on the prime rate. Special 4% SCRA rate: When you have a balance on your account at the time you enter active military duty, get 4% APR on that existing balance until one year after you complete active duty.
    • See More Details & Reviews About The USAA Secured Cards® American Express® Card
    3.5 320 reviews

    Citi® Secured MasterCard®


    citi secured credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 22.24% (V)
    • Annual Fee $25
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Limited History
    • Rewards Details
    • Additional Info
    • Start building credit for tomorrow
    • A security deposit is required for this product (minimum $200)
    • Unlike a prepaid card, it helps build credit history, with monthly notifications to the credit bureaus
    • Pay your bill on time every month to avoid damaging your credit. Citi can help keep you on track with Auto Pay, online Bill Pay and alerts
    • Use the card anywhere MasterCard® is accepted — worldwide
    • See More Details & Reviews About The Citi® Secured MasterCard®
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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.

     
    Oct 8, 2015
    By:
    I tried to get a starter credit with no credit and I got denied. Why?
    Oct 7, 2015
    By:
    The Capital One secured card is a great starter card. Because it's secured, it guarantees that you can't get into trouble. By using a starter card for fixed monthly purchases such as gas or groceries, you can use the card and then set aside the money you usually spend on those items each month to pay the bill. This allows you to build you credit so you can qualify for unsecured credit and loans in the future. It's also a great way to get you disciplined to spending only what's within your budget.
    Oct 6, 2015
    By:
    The best starter car is the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card. I loved using it when I first was building up my credit. I first used it as a college student. I made my educational purchases and regular shopping using the card. It didn't even have an over limit fee so when I did go over my budget a bit I didn't face any charges against me. The only thing that I didn't like about it was that its regular APR was pretty high compared to those of other starter cards in the market. Overall I liked using the card and would recommend it to others.
    Oct 3, 2015
    By:
    The best starter credit card is the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa Card. When I was in college I often had lost of expenses where I needed a credit card. I had to buy books, school supplies and food. I always had to borrow my parent’s credit card so it became a bit of a hassle. So I applied for this card and I instantly fell in love with it. Not only was I building my credit, I was also getting cash back every time I use the card. Just make sure to use the card responsibly and pay it off in time. Use it for gas and for your everyday needs while you are in college.
    Sep 27, 2015
    By:
    I used the Journey card from Capital One for college. I think that the best way to use a student credit card is for essentials that you already have the money for. I also think it's a good idea to only spend what you can afford to pay back at the end of the month and pay the card off. Student credit cards should only be used to build your credit and not used to buy concert tickets or go on shopping sprees.
    Jul 20, 2015
    By:
    I just read the comments and EVERYONE saying APR doesn't matter if you pay it off in full is DEAD wrong. Now even if you pay off the card in full every month you still pay interest, just not as much. The APR is factored by a average of how much you spend per day. Say you average spending $10.00 every day in a given month, and your APR is %20.00 percent. They divide your annual APR by 365, (days in a year) and then you pay that much intrest based on your daily average spending per day which is say $10.00. Now its not much but you are paying something so if your annual APR is 20% your monthly APR is about 1.66% do the math
    Sep 28, 2015
    Photo of Ann A.
    Pete, it would only be 1.66% on any balance that you did not pay in full...I've had one credit card for ten years-- I don't even know the APR is, because I pay it off every month. Each statement clearly shows "$0.00" interest charged. Are you saying this about this particular card? Because normally, most cards do not charge interest for balances paid in full before their due date.
    Jul 8, 2015
    By:
    It is very important to start good credit habits with your very first credit card. It is so easy to get caught up in using a credit card for every purchase, feeling like it is "free money" for those who have never had a credit card before. But, by doing this, a person can face a lifetime of bad credit decisions, especially if they are uneducated.

    Instead, it is important to view a starter credit card as a tool -- mainly as one to build credit for larger purchases like a car or a home later in life. Thus, it is not BAD to use the starter card for items like a new outfit, school supplies, or other things. But the user should definitely have the funds to pay in full at the end of a billing cycle. Also, I would recommend NOT using it for things like gas or food -- there is nothing tangible to show at the end of the month.

    Starter cards can be a very helpful tool if used correctly, and a very dangerous obstacle if used frivolously. But with a bit of common sense and a little self control they can help young people or students get off to a great start on building credit while still in school!
    Jul 8, 2015
    By:
    When I first had a credit card, I used it the same way I do now. I paid for things I could still afford with cash, and paid off the card at the end of the month. I've heard people express that this won't help your credit score, but it has helped mine just fine by not letting a card acquire interest from debt. This both builds credit and, if the card has rewards, garners those as well. This is the best way I've found to use a credit card period, whether a beginning card or any other.
    Jun 18, 2015
    By:
    I never had a credit card before how do I go about getting a first timer credit card?
    Jun 18, 2015
    Photo of Card H.
    We recommend comparing the cards listed above and applying for whichever offer provides the best terms for your individual needs. If you don’t get approved, find a secured card with no annual fee and place a security deposit. This will get positive information flowing into your major credit reports as soon as possible, making it easier to get a better credit card down the road.

    You can learn more in our Credit Card Newcomers Guide: http://www.cardhub.com/edu/new-to-credit-guide/
    Jun 17, 2015
    By:
    The best way to go about using your very first card, from my experience, is to get yourself familiar with how payment timing can affect your score, and how things such as carrying a high balance and not paying on time can severely affect your credit score down the road. Your first card should be the card you screw up a little on so that you fully understand the power of credit!
    Jun 17, 2015
    By:
    My very first credit card - the BOA Platinum Secured Credit Card - taught me a variety of things throughout my first year of financial independence many years ago; the most important being that paying your bill on time is paramount in ensuring that your credit score is always high and mighty. I took that into account since the beginning and I still have perfect credit to this day, with the only negatives being the occasional inquiry. Don't spend more than what you can handle, pay your bills MONTHLY in FULL and you'll be on your way!
    May 25, 2015
    By:
    I agree with the previous post by Bre Fujimoto -- don't worry about APR because you should be paying this thing off before it become a factor. Look instead for good rewards. Even if you get a low APR if you aren't paying it off then you are literally giving your money away and the only thing you get is something you could have bought anyway if you'd have waited a few weeks. Spend some time thinking about what you'll pay for with the card. Choose things that you would be buying anyway. Then, set your account to automatically pay the full balance of that card each month so that it makes it much harder for you to carry a balance (since you'd have to cancel your payment to do it).
    May 4, 2015
    By:
    Don't look at APR. If you think you won't be able to pay off every statement in full, you probably shouldn't be getting a credit card. If you pay off your balance in full on time, you'll don't pay the APR. You can set up autopay so you never forget to pay on time, but always make sure to have enough in your bank account to cover your credit card purchases. Trust me, I learned the hard way.
    Apr 6, 2015
    By:
    The first credit card that I obtained was from Capital One. The card, while not bad, was not good either. The card had an extremely high APR, that at the time, was 18 percent. If I knew then what I knew now, I would have waited until I established a bit more credit before obtaining this credit card. There are other ways to build credit, than to obtain a credit card.
    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.
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