10 Best First Credit Cards

For many students, the first credit card is a rite of passage. You might get your first job after graduation, or maybe you're just starting out in your career and need some money for a down payment on a house. Either way, getting a credit card can be incredibly useful for building up good credit history before applying for rent or buying other things like cars. But how do you know which kind of first card is right for you? Here's our guide:

Discover it for Students

Discover it for Students is a great option for students. It has no annual fee and it offers 5% cash back on all purchases, with an additional 1% back on everything else. No foreign transaction fees apply, but the credit limit is based on your income and not what you can actually afford to pay at the end of each billing cycle.

The card also works well when used abroad in countries that use the Euro or other currencies with which you're more familiar; if there's no need to convert back into dollars before paying off your bill (as would be true if you were traveling abroad), then this can make things easier on everyone involved in that transaction!

Citi Rewards+ Student Card

Citi Rewards+ Student Card

If you’re a student, this card is an excellent choice. It has no annual fee and offers cash back for purchases in the form of 2% back on all purchases (up to $200,000 per year) and 1% back on all other transactions. The card also offers bonus categories where you can earn even more points: gas stations & utilities (1%), dining out (2%), Amazon.com purchases online or in-store at Whole Foods Market stores (4%), Target RedCard purchases over $25 at Target stores (5%).

The only downside to this card is its high APR: 28.99%. However, if you pay off your balance each month with the help of cashback rewards it won’t be as much of an issue since that money will go towards paying off debt rather than interest charges

Discover it Chrome for Students

  • No annual fee.

  • 3% cash back on dining and gas.

  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • 0% intro APR for 6 months on purchases and balance transfers, then 14.99%, 20.24%, or 24.49%. The card has no foreign transaction fees if you're traveling outside of the U.S., which is great because that's typically where most people spend their money when they travel with no hotel or car rental coverage (and even then it's often cheaper than using credit cards). And if you don't want to miss out on any of these benefits—or just need some extra help navigating through paying off your debt faster—Discover will give you a free FICO score!

Capital One Journey Student Rewards

If you are a student and looking for a no-fee card, the Capital One Journey Student Rewards is one of the best options. It offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases, 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months and 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months.

The annual fee is $0 (waived first year), but it also has no foreign transaction fees or cash advance fees. And if you have an excellent credit score (720+), there's no limit to how much you can earn with this card—as long as your balance doesn't hit $20K in any given year!

Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students

The Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students card has no annual fee, so you can earn rewards without having to worry about paying an annual fee.

The card offers 2% rewards on all purchases, with a 1.5% bonus when you use your debit card to make purchases at gas stations and airline partners (1%), as well as 1.25% bonus when you use your debit card to make purchases at restaurants (1%).

In addition to these introductory offers, there are no foreign transaction fees or caps on how much you can earn in rewards—so this is one of the best deals out there for students who want to travel abroad or eat at restaurants regularly!

Petal® Visa Credit Card

The Petal® Visa Credit Card is a good choice for people with good credit. It offers an introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 6 months, followed by an 18.24% - 25.99% variable APR after that (depending on your creditworthiness and other factors).

The card has no annual fee and gives you 3% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% cash back on restaurants, travel and gas stations and 1% cash back on all other purchases. There are no foreign transaction fees either when you use this card overseas!

Discover it Secured

  • No annual fee

  • Good for building credit

  • You can earn cash back rewards. The Discover it Secured card offers 1% cash back on all purchases, and you can get an additional 2% when you redeem your points for gift cards, merchandise or services at restaurants and hotels. The best part about this card is that it's great for building credit because it helps you make payments on time by offering a 0% introductory APR period on purchases and balance transfers (if they're made within 60 days). After that period ends, however, your interest rates will change from 0% to 15%.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

  • No annual fee.

  • Rewards for every dollar you spend.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

  • Online account access and credit limit increases after you make your first five monthly payments on time

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is a no-annual-fee credit card that gives you cash back on all purchases, including groceries, gas and dining out. You'll earn 2% cash back on your first $1,500 in spend each year and 1% thereafter.

The best part? You only need to put $500 to qualify for this card (which makes it perfect for students). In addition to the annual fee of $0 ($0 if you get approved as a new customer) there are no foreign transaction fees—a bonus for those who travel abroad often or have relatives who live overseas.

Citi Secured Mastercard

The Citi Secured Mastercard is a secured credit card that doesn't require an annual fee. Instead, you'll need to make a security deposit of $200 or more in order to get approved for the card. This may sound like it's more difficult than some other cards on this list, but there are actually some benefits here:

  • Your credit line can be increased after making your security deposit.

  • There is no rewards program and no annual fee!

A first card can be a good way to build credit, as long as you use it responsibly.

Credit cards are not free money, even if they seem that way. They're a way for companies to make money by charging interest on your balance and fees at each purchase. If you use a credit card responsibly, though, it can be a good tool for building up your credit score over time—and eventually getting approved for an unsecured loan or line of credit later on down the line.

Before using a first card as part of building up your credit history:

  • Pay off any balances in full each month; don't carry any balances from month-to-month or pay only minimum payments (if this is possible).

  • Don't use cash advances except as an emergency measure when absolutely necessary because they'll ding up your score even further while preventing future applications from being approved.*


If you're looking for a first credit card, it's important to consider what type of spending might qualify for that card. If you want to build a credit history and improve your chances at getting approved for future loans, then maybe you should look into a secured credit card. On the other hand, if your goal is just to use a new card as an interim step towards building good habits that will last throughout adulthood (like paying off all of your debts by age 30), then an unsecured one may be better suited. We hope this post has helped you in making an informed decision about which type best suits your needs!

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