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The Best First Credit Cards

Barret WilliamsJanuary 7, 2022

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The Best First Credit Cards


Getting your first credit card can feel like the first step to adulthood. If you've never had a credit card before, you may not know where to get started, or even what to look for. Finding the right balance of fees, rewards and other perks is key to not regretting your first credit card choice.

We've picked some top credit cards for those that are new to credit to help you narrow down your search. 


Petal 1 Visa Card

5 / 5 Stars

Best Unsecured Card for Building Credit
- 5 / 5 Stars - Best Unsecured Card for Building Credit

Start building your credit without being weighed down by hidden fees. There is a Petal card for those with damaged credit, or a version with better rewards earnings for those that are new to credit or have established credit. See which version you are prequalified for today.

Apply Now
at Petal's Website (Petal 1 is Issued by WebBank, Member FDIC)

  • APR:  19.99% - 29.49% Variable APR
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Welcome Bonus: None
  • Recommended Credit: Poor - Fair
  • No Annual Fee
  • $300 - $5,000 Credit Limit
  • 2% - 10% cash back at select merchants
  • Petal 1 looks beyond your credit score to create a Cash Score based on your banking history.
  • A Cash Score shows your creditworthiness and can help you qualify for more credit at better rates.

Where other credit cards for bad credit have bogged their customers down with hidden fees and high APRs, Petal, whose cards are issued by WebBank (Member FDIC), has released a card with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. Even better, your good behavior can be rewarded with a higher credit limit in as little as 6 months by paying your bills on time and keeping your credit score within a personalized range. 

Read our Petal 1 Review.



Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

4.9 / 5 Stars

Best-in-class Secured Card Rewards
- 4.9 / 5 Stars - Best-in-class Secured Card Rewards

Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, a very competitive flat earning rate for a secured credit card. The card also offers solid additional perks, like extended warranties on eligible purchases.

Apply Now
at Captial One's Website

  • APR: 26.99% variable
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Welcome Bonus: None
  • Recommended Credit Score: Building
  • Rewards: Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Earn 1.5% cash back
  • See if you're preapproved before applying
  • No annual fee
  • Security deposits as low as $200

When it comes to cards for those with bad credit, good rewards options tend to be a rarity. That's not the case with the Quicksilver Secured card. With an earning rate of 1.5% cash back on everyday purchases and no annual fee, it competes with some of the more popular cards offered to those with good credit. While the card doesn't have an annual fee, be mindful of the  pay your balance off in full each month or your interest charges will quickly outpace your payments thanks to the high APR. 

Read our  Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card Review.



Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

4.8 / 5 Stars

Best Security Deposit
- 4.8 / 5 Stars - Best Security Deposit

Depending on your credit profile, you may be able to secure a $200 line of credit with as little as $49 down as a security deposit. You may also be considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months.

Apply Now
at Capital One's Website

  • APR: 26.99% variable
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Welcome Bonus: None
  • Recommended Credit: Rebuilding
  • No annual fee
  • In as little as 6 months, you could be automatically considered for a higher credit line
  • Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you're all set
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Help build your credit through responsible use of a card that reports to all three major credit bureaus

This card isn't fancy, but it's effective at what it does. Recently named a top bank for customer service, Capital One is looking to build a relationship with new customers using the Capital One Platinum Credit Card.  While the card doesn't have an annual fee, you'll want to be sure to pay your balance off in full each month or your interest charges will quickly outpace your payments thanks to the high APR. 

Read our Platinum Secured Credit Card Review.



OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

4.9 / 5 Stars

Best Secured Card with No Hard Credit Check
- 4.9 / 5 Stars - Best Secured Card with No Hard Credit Check

Apply without a hard credit pull. This helps safeguard your credit profile against declined applications.

Apply Now
at OpenSky's Website

  • APR: 17.39% variable
  • Annual Fee: $35
  • Welcome Bonus: None
  • Recommended Credit Score: None
  • No credit check necessary to apply. 

  • The security deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your new card. 

  • OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.

  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.

OpenSky provides a path for credit building to those with damaged or no credit.  You'll need to prove an ability to repay your bill, however, the approval process doesn't require that OpenSky look at your credit report. Your line of credit can be secured by a refundable security deposit, with credit lines starting as low as $200.  When you close your account, your security deposit will be returned as long as you close your account in good standing.

Read our OpenSky Secured Credit Card Review



Quicksilver Rewards for Students

5 / 5 Stars

Best Student Card for Flat-Rate Rewards
- 5 / 5 Stars - Best Student Card for Flat-Rate Rewards

Earning 1.5% back on all purchases is a best-in-class rate for student cards.

Apply Now
at Capital One's Website

  • APR:  26.99% Variable APR
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Welcome Bonus: None
  • Recommended Credit: Fair
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 annual fee
  • Cardholders are automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months

It was a tough call between the SavorOne student card and the Quicksilver for top pick. Most spenders are likely to benefit more from a flat 1.5% back on all purchases, but if you spend heavily in the 3% categories offered by SavorOne, that may be a better choice.

Rewards aside, these cards offer almost identical perks. You'll pay no foreign transaction fee and get access to many of the same benefits. Perks include virtual card numbers, travel accident insurance, extended warranties on eligible purchases and $0 fraud liability. 

Read our Quicksilver Rewards for Students Review.




Summary of The Best First Credit Cards

Top 5 Best First Credit Cards

(Swipe table to see more)
ProductRatingWhy?
Petal 1 Visa Card
5 / 5
Best Unsecured Card for Building Credit
Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card
4.9 / 5
Best-in-class Secured Card Rewards
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
4.8 / 5
Best Security Deposit
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
4.9 / 5
Best Secured Card with No Hard Credit Check
Quicksilver Rewards for Students
5 / 5
Best Student Card for Flat-Rate Rewards

How to Pick the Best First Credit Card


If you're trying to decide what card is the best for your first credit card, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:

Are You a Student?

If you're a student, you have access to some cards that look very similar to their established credit counterparts. If this sounds like you, we'd recommend the Quicksilver Student card.

Do You Have a Security Deposit?

A secured card is a good option for a first credit card for a couple of reasons. First, it limits the risk of racking up more charges than you have the ability to pay. This is because the bank is holding a security deposit equal to the amount of your credit line. If you find yourself underwater, you can close the account and use your security deposit to offset your balance. 

Do You Have Damaged Credit?

If you have damaged credit, consider looking at a product that doesn't require a credit check. There are a couple of credit builder accounts available that may be a good option. If this sounds like you, check out our  best credit cards for bad credit.

Do You Have Some Credit?

If you already have some credit (maybe from student loans or a car payment), you may be able to get an unsecured card that earns top-tier rewards. If this is you, you may want to check out a prequalification tool through a bank like Capital One to see what options you might receive. 


Methodology


When searching for the best first credit cards, we looked at the following features:

  • Accessibility: We focused on national cards that are open to the public for application.
  • Prequalification: We believe that protecting your credit score is important. Declines while you look to build your credit profile can not only harm your credit score, but also give you a negative experience. 
  • Fees: We look for a low annual fee or ongoing APR. Bonus points go to cards that do not charge additional fees, like foreign transaction fees.
  • Rewards: Rewards are a nice to have in a first credit card, as you should be focused on building good habits.
  • Credit Monitoring: Monitoring your credit progress with your first card is critical. Cards that offer a credit score and report received bonus points. 


FAQs


Can I get my first credit card with no credit?

There are many good options for a first credit card when you don't have credit. We like offerings from Petal and Capital One. 

Can I earn rewards with my first credit card?

Yes! Credit card rewards are no longer limited to those with established credit.  You are unlikely to earn the best rewards with a starter card, but you don't have to entirely miss out on rewards either. Two of our top picks earn competitive rewards on purchases.

Can I get a credit card without a credit score?

If you don't have a credit score, you should still be able to get a credit card. To see what offers may be available to you with a limited score, we'd recommend going to a couple of bank websites and going through their prequalification process. This doesn't impact your credit profile and will give you a good idea of whether a bank is likely to extend you an offer for a credit card. 



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