Best Credit Cards for First Timers
Choosing the right credit card can be an overwhelming process for anyone, but especially so for first timers. If you’re thinking of getting your first credit card, use our cheat sheet to help you find the best credit card.
Check Your Credit Score
Before applying to your first credit card find out what your credit score is. Your credit score allows credit card companies to view your creditworthiness, or how reliable you will be in repaying your loans. Use your credit score as a guideline when looking for the right credit card so you don’t apply for cards you have a low chance of getting approved for.
No Annual Fee
Your first credit card should not have an annual fee. You want to use and keep your first credit card account open as long as possible to boost your credit score.
Our Top Credit Cards (Unsecured)
The credit cards that carry the best deals are typically unsecured, as they are for people who have proven they are credit worthy. If you find you have a decent credit score (700+) then you will most likely qualify for an unsecured card. A stable income will also bolster your chances to qualify for a better credit card.
Best credit cards to look into:
BarclayCard Rewards MasterCard: For the Ok-but-not-great Credit Score
Do you have limited credit history? Is your credit score not as high as you want it to be? Do you want a rewards card without having to pay an annual fee? Then the best introductory card for you is the BarclayCard Rewards MasterCard. The rewards are simple and easy to understand since you earn points on all your purchases and 2x the points on gas, utility and eligible grocery store purchases.
Watch out for the card’s high APR (25.24% variable) and the 3% foreign transaction fee.
Chase Freedom Card: For the Rewards Enthusiast
If you are someone with a good credit score who is looking to actively monitor your rewards, pay no annual fee and ease your way into credit cards with a 0% APR, then Chase Freedom is just the right card for you.
This is a great introductory card as it offers a 0% APR for the first 15 months (variable APR 14.24% – 23.24% after that) and cash back rewards without having to pay an annual fee.
This card’s major drawback is its complicated rewards scheme. You receive 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back on selected categories (up to $1,500) which change very quarter.
Like the BarclayCard, be aware of a 3% foreign transaction fee when you are traveling.
Discover It Card: For the Ultimate Rewards Enthusiast
This credit card arguably offers first timers the most perks out of any in the market right now. Like the Chase Freedom Card, you receive 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back on selected categories every quarter. In addition, though, Discover It will match your cash back rewards at the end of the year. If you earn $200 in cash back rewards during your first year, Discover It will then match that and raise it to $400 – effectively yielding a 2% total bonus on all your purchases.
Like the other cards, Discover It Cash Back Card offers no annual fee for ever and 0% APR for the first twelve months.
All these benefits come at a major cost. Discover It cards are not widely accepted throughout the US, and especially so throughout the world. This element of convenience is something to keep in mind when weighing in all the benefits offered by the card.
Bank Americard Travel Rewards Card: For the Jetsetter
Have you gone through the last three credit cards wanting to find a card with no foreign transaction fees in addition to no annual fees and 0% APR? Bank America offers first timers who travel often just the right card.
While the Bank Americard’s travel rewards are not exceptional compared to other travel rewards’ cards with annual fees (e.g. Chase Sapphire Preferred), it still offers good rewards. You can gain unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points. In addition, you can redeem up to $200 for travel purchases if you spend at least $1,000 during your first 90 days of using the card.
No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, 0% APR (up to 12 months) and travel rewards is just the right combination for the jet-setting first timer.
Secured Credit Cards
If you are between the ages of 18-25 and you are applying for your first credit card it is most likely that you have a limited credit history (if any). Many people wonder, how can I begin to build a credit score if I can’t qualify for a credit card? The solution lies in secured credit cards.
Unlike the unsecured cards described above, secured cards require a deposit as collateral in case you cannot repay back your loans. These cards are easier to qualify for and can serve as a great opportunity to begin building your credit score from the ground up or rebuild your credit score if its poor. Don’t see low credit limit and limited rewards as a downside. Instead, see it as an opportunity to ease your way into learning how to successfully manage your credit card. If you pay your monthly balance in full every month and don’t spend beyond your limit, then you will soon reap the benefits of responsible credit card use. In no time, as you build your credit score, you will be eligible for a higher credit card limit, a lower APR and better rewards.
Use this cheat sheet to guide you through the search of your first credit card. Seek to use your first credit card responsibly and for the rest of your life to boost your credit score. Finding the right first credit card for you will lead to countless benefits in the future.