The 5 Best First Credit Cards for Beginners

best credit cards for beginners

About a year ago, I put out a video called Credit Cards 101: A Beginner’s Guide that was all about the things you need to know if you’re looking into getting your first credit card. And, if you’re getting your first credit card soon, you should definitely check out that video. But, I recently realized that I forgot to include one very important piece of information in that video: which card you should actually get! 

First of all, there are four major credit card providers: Visa, Amex, Mastercard, and Discover. But, within those four categories, there are hundreds and hundreds of different options for credit cards and all of those options can get a bit overwhelming. So, allow me to make things easier for you. 

In this article, I’m going to go through the 5 best first credit cards for people who are just now stepping into the world of credit cards. These are the 5 best first credit cards for beginners in 2022.

#1: Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

capital one platinum secured card

Capital One is a super popular credit card provider among those who like to travel. And that’s because none of the credit cards that they offer have a foreign transaction fee, which means that they won’t charge you an extra fee for spending money outside of the United States.

So, maybe you just immigrated to the United States from a foreign country and your credit in the U.S. is starting from zero. Or maybe you have a family member that lives in another country that you go to see often. The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is a great way to start building in the U.S. while allowing you to spend money abroad without getting hit with a fee. And it’s got the lowest deposit limit of any normal card on this list. 

This is a great card for people who want to start building credit history and raising their credit score but don’t have a lot of free cash at the moment to put down on a deposit. With the Capital One Platinum Secured Card, you may be able to put down as little as $200, $99, or even just $49, depending on what your credit history, income, and debt obligations look like. 

And this card is unique among starter credit cards because they’ll give you a starting line of credit of $200 even if your deposit was only $49. With most starter cards, a $49 deposit means that you get a $49 credit limit, but not with the Capital One Platinum Secured. 

And, if you want to raise that credit limit, you can keep depositing money and raise your credit limit up to $1,000. Want to keep moving up in the world? Well, Capital One will automatically review you for a new credit card in as little as six months, so you can get an even better card if you choose. 

Now, there are some drawbacks to the Platinum Secured card. The regular APR, which the is amount of interest you’re going to pay on your unpaid spending, is a bit higher than other cards on this list at 26.99%. But, since this is a card that you should be using to build up a good credit score anyway, you should be paying off your card regularly and that APR shouldn’t really matter. 

But, the real downside is that fact this card doesn’t earn any rewards, which means that the Capital One Platinum Secured Card is really only the best option for you if your main focus is paying the smallest deposit possible.

#2: Discover it® Secured Credit Card

discover it secured credit card

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is probably the best all-around starter credit card out there, in my opinion. It has no annual fee and you don’t even need a credit score to apply. Just like the Capital One card we mentioned in the first section of this article, it also has a fairly high APR, which is to be expected from a secured card.

But, unlike the Capital One card, the minimum deposit is $200. So, if you don’t have $200 right now, it’s a no-go for you. But, if you do have that $200, then you should absolutely go for this card because the rewards on it are awesome. Most secured cards won’t offer you any rewards at all. 

This card, on the other hand, offers you 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 each quarter and 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases. Plus, at the end of the first year, they’ll match however much cash back you’ve accumulated. 

Let’s see: 2% of $1,000 on those restaurant and gas purchases would be $20 cash back per quarter. Over four quarters, that would be $80 in cash back per year. Then, let’s say you spent another $8,000 on your other purchases that year. That’s another $80 in cash back, bringing your total to $160.

Wait! Since Discover will double your cash back, you’re looking at basically $320 in cash back rewards just for choosing the Discover it® Secured Credit Card over a different secured credit card. That makes up for that $200 minimum deposit real quick. 

Plus, you can be considered for a new unsecured credit card in as little as seven months, which means you could move up to an even better Discover card with better rewards, like the Discover it® Cash Back Card that earns up to 5% cash back on certain purchases. That card also has no annual fee, making it one of the best mid-tier credit cards in the game. Unfortunately, you need a longer credit history to get one.

#3: Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

deserve edu mastercard for students

There are so many great things to say about the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students. And it really might be the best card on this list if you know how to use its perks correctly. First of all, there’s no annual fee, same as the other cards I already talked about, and there are also no foreign transaction fees. 

The APR is nice and low for a starter card at 20.24%. They don’t even require you to give a social security number if you’re an international student studying abroad in the United States. Plus, once you start spending with the Deserve EDU card, you start earning 1% cash back on all purchases and you can see how much cash back you’ve earned through their easy-to-use app. 

But, this is where the real perks come in. If you spend over $500 in the first three billing cycles of having this card, you’ll be rewarded with a year-long membership to Amazon Prime Student, which is a value of $59 dollars. And, if you use Amazon Prime Student correctly, it can be worth way more than that. 

This subscription gives you the option to rent textbooks, which could save you as much as 90%. And, for anyone who’s already been to school, you know how expensive textbooks are. And that 90% is bound to be hundreds of dollars. Plus, Amazon Prime Students gives you access to Prime Video, so you can watch movies and TV when you aren’t studying. You get free delivery on purchases through Amazon and you get discounts at Whole Foods! Seriously, even if you don’t get the Deserve Student card, I’d recommend getting Amazon Prime Student anyway if you’re currently in school. 

But, back to the card. There’s another major perk that comes with this one. If you choose to pay your cell phone bill with the Deserve EDU Mastercard, they’ll reward you with $600 in cell phone insurance. So, if your phone gets stolen or breaks, you’ll have a $600 credit to spend on a new one. That’s one of the best perks you can find with any credit card, not just starter cards. 

And, with the Deserve EDU Mastercard, you won’t even have to pay a deposit. All of those perks and the fact that there’s no deposit means that this is probably the best starter card on this list. 

Unfortunately, you can only get one if you’re currently enrolled as a student. Bummer. 

#4: Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

capital one quicksilver secured card

The Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card is a lot like the Platinum card that we mentioned at the beginning of this article with two main distinctions: the minimum deposit is a bit higher and the Quicksilver card earns rewards, and good rewards at that. You’ll have to make a $200 deposit to get your foot in the door, but that deposit means you can be approved even if your have no credit history or your credit score is atrocious. 

Then, once you’ve got a Quicksilver Secured Card in your wallet, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make anywhere, anytime. Plus, if you book a flight or hotel through Capital One Travel, you’ll get a whopping 5% cash back.That’s a fantastic cash back deal for a secured starter credit card that anyone can get, and it might even inspire you to travel the world a bit more!

Like most of the other cards on this list, your credit limit is going to be equal to whatever your deposit was, but you may be able to increase your credit limit by putting down a bigger deposit from $1,000 to $3,000! And, for your information, the higher you can get your maximum credit limit, typically, the better it’s going to be for your credit score.

But, regardless of how high your limit, always make sure to pay your balance off as soon as you can because the Quicksilver Secured card has a high ongoing APR of 26.99%. That means you’ll be paying a lot of extra money if you let your balance just sit there. 

But, once again, there’s no annual fee. And, in as little as six months, you can be approved to move up to the unsecured version of the Quicksilver Secured Card, which is basically the same thing as the secured card, except for that it has a nice sign-up bonus and you’ll get the deposit that you made on your Quicksilver Secured Card back. 

Overall, this is an excellent card that anyone who’s first starting to build up their credit can get. Plus, the easy-to-understand rewards structure of getting 1.5% cash back on every purchase is an amazing perk that’s hard to find with other secured credit cards. No matter who you are, you can’t go wrong with this card.

#5: Discover it® Student Cash Back

discover it student cash back

Before you we start talking about this card, I should mention that this is another one that you have to be actively enrolled as a student to get. But, if you’re currently doing the school thing, the Discover it® Student Cash Back card might just be the best option on this list for you.

This card has a super unique rewards system that gives you 5% cash back at different stores each quarter. For instance, let’s look at their categories for 2022. From January to March, Discover it Student Cash Back cardholders got 5% cash back at grocery stores and for fitness and gym memberships. From April to June, the promo was for gas stations and at Target. From July to September was for restaurants and PayPal. And October through December is for Amazon.com and digital wallets. 

So, if you’re a creature of habit and shop at the same three stores for everything, this might not be the most advantageous rewards structure. But, if you’re willing to switch up where you shop so you hit those sweet spots, you’re looking at 5% cash back all the time! Plus, just like the Discover it Secured card, they’ll match your cash back at the end of your first year of being a customer. 

Let’s say you get 5% cash back on $10,000 of purchases in your first year. That’s $500. Then, Discover will match that and you’re looking at $1,000 cash back in one single year! And that’s on a card with no annual fees and that you don’t need any credit history to get. Plus, it has an intro period where you’ll have 0% APR for the first 6 months. That means you won’t have to pay any interest for the first 6 months. 

And, after that, this card has a variable APR of about 14% to 23%, which is fairly low for a starter credit card. Everything about the Discover Student Cash Back card is great, especially if you can hit those sweet spots. But, once again, you need to be a student to get one. 

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