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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 May 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.
    • No limit to the cash back you can earn.
    • Your cash back doesn't expire.

     
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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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    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

    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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    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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    3.5

    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.

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    Ask our Experts
    EXPERT’S ANSWERS

    Who Needs a Starter Credit Card?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou Most 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 Everyone 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 The 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.)

     
    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 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).
    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 starter card for me, but I can see how it would be bad for some people who have problems managing their finances.
    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 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.
    January 27, 2014
    Photo of Michelle F.
    By: Michelle Fields
    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.
    January 14, 2014
    Photo of Mark W.
    By: Mark Willis
    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.
    March 6, 2014
    Photo of Jackie Farace
    Jackie Farace
    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.
    December 30, 2013
    Photo of Doug M.
    By: Doug MyVegas
    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.