Are you a young adult and would like to ask me, “What are the best credit cards for young adults?” or a recent college graduate willing to ask, “What’s the best starter credit card for me?”. Then this guide is for you.
What’s the best first credit card you can get?
When choosing the best credit cards for young adults, I will advise you to look for cards that:
- Offer better-than-average approval odds for consumers with shorter credit histories.
- Reward spending in categories such as dining, travel or Amazon purchases.
- Do not charge excessive fees.
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Best credit cards for young adults
Choosing a first or second credit card depends on whether you have had a good credit score or not. If you are not sure, you can browse around for a credit score estimator to understand the best credit cards for you.
Best credit cards for young adults—good credit
The best credit card offers to attract new creditworthy customers with promotions like cash sign-up bonuses, 0-per cent intro APRs and generous rewards programs. They require good or excellent credit, which means you will need to have the following:
- Open loan and credit card accounts for five years or more
- No late payments in the last two years
- Not applied for credit more than twice in the previous year
If you’re a young professional with established credit, you should consider having one of these credit cards:
Discover it® Cash Back
My top cashback credit card pick for young adults is the Discover it® Cash Back. The Discover it® Cash Back requires good credit, but it offers benefits that are hard to beat if you have it.
Its rewards include generous cash, reasonable interest rates, top-rated US-based customer service, awesome account apps, and late payment forgiveness.
The Discover it® Cash Back gives you 5 per cent cashback in new bonus categories like gas, restaurants, Amazon and more—up to $1,500 every quarter you activate alongside unlimited 1 per cent cashback on all other purchases.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of our favourite travel rewards cards, especially for the big-spending type. It earns you 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining and a point per $1 spent on anything else.
In addition, you can get sign up bonus points of 50,000 after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, making a total of $625 value.
Capital One® Savor® Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Savor® Rewards Credit Card can help you save big on dining and entertainment and can snag an impressive cash sign-up bonus in your favour. It offers an unlimited 4 per cent cashback on dining and entertainment with 2 per cent at grocery stores and 1 per cent on all other purchases.
It has a $500 sign-up bonus after you might have spent $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from the account opening.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card gives a sign-up bonus of 25,000 bonus points for new customers who spend $1,000 on purchases within 90 days of account opening. You can also earn an unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on most of your assets.
Each point is worth one cent as statement credits towards travel purchases. Also, existing Bank of America® checking and savings account holders can earn a 10 per cent customer points bonus, adding up to 1.65 cents per dollar spent.
The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has no foreign transaction fee.
Details: Best credit cards for young adults—average/limited credit
If you don’t have much of a credit history, shopping for cards can be frustrating. If most of the rewarding credit cards are still out of your reach, some good credit cards are still designed for consumers with average or limited credit.
That you have an average credit means you have:
- Opened loan and credit card accounts for three years or more
- No more than one late payment in the last year
- Not applied for credit more than twice in the previous six months.
However, if you fall into this category, here are some cards to consider:
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Card
The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card provides a good chance of approval with a modest annual fee (waived the first year) and a generous 1.5 per cent cashback. It earns 1.5 per cent cashback on every purchase.
Capital One® Platinum Credit Card
The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is an excellent primary credit card with no annual fee for average or limited credit applicants.
The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is an ideal starter credit card if you have a little credit history. You won’t earn rewards with this card, but there’s no annual fee to worry about, either.
Another great thing about Capital One is that they offer cards like this and great prime rewards cards. So if you start with a Platinum card and use it responsibly for a while, you may be able to upgrade your account.
Discover it® Student Cash Back
If you’re in college, the Discover it® Student Cash Back should be your first credit card. It offers all the fantastic benefits of a Discover card with a highly increased chance of approval.
With the no-annual-fee Discover it® Student Cash Back, you will get 5 per cent cashback in new bonus categories like gas, restaurants, Amazon and more—up to $1,500 every quarter you activate and unlimited 1 per cent cashback on all other purchases.
It also earns a $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for the next five years.
Best first credit cards for customers with no credit
If you’ve never had a credit card or loan before, a secured credit card offers your best chance of approval.
If you have no credit or minimal credit, you’ll need to read up on building credit for the first time. You’ll often need to get a particular type of product called a secured credit card that works like a debit card that helps you build your credit.
Discover it® Secured
This is unarguably one of the only available cards for people with poor credit that offers cashback. A good option for a secured card is the Discover it® Secured. It only requires you a minimum $200 security deposit to open an account.
Better than most secured credit cards, Discover it® Secured gives you cashback. You will earn 2 per cent back at restaurants & gas stations. In addition, you’ll make 1 per cent back on all other purchases.
Capital One® Secured MasterCard®
The Capital One® Secured MasterCard® has no annual fee and immediately allows you to begin building credit with responsible use.
A secured credit card works like a prepaid debit card—you must first make a deposit. Unlike a prepaid card, however, a secured credit card builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the three major credit bureaus.
The Capital One® Secured MasterCard® will get you an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, determined based on your creditworthiness. Then get access to a higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed.