Best First Time Credit Card [Good for Students]
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
Credit Score Required:
Getting your first credit card can be a rush. The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® is an excellent option for students that are looking to build their credit history. This card offers some great features, like cashback rewards, that you don’t usually get on first credit card options.
What We Like
1.25% Cashback reward on all purchases
No Annual Fee
Higher Credit Line after 5 Months of On-time payments
Capital One® Secured MasterCard®
Credit Score Required:
It can be hard to get a first credit card – however the Capital One® Secured MasterCard® makes it much easier. The way it works is simple. You make a security deposit which then becomes your card limit. You use the card and pay it off every month. This helps build your credit while providing you the financial flexibility you need.
What We Like
Can upgrade to unsecured card with on-time payments
Credit Limit Matches Security Deposit
Low Credit Score Requirements
Your first credit card is a big deal; that powerful piece of plastic can help you establish a solid credit history. Armed with an impressive credit score and steady income, you'll be on your way to building the life you want. So, how easy — or difficult — is it to get your first credit card?
Obtaining your first credit card isn't as easy as it once was. Laws curbing aggressive attempts to recruit college-age customers has helped rein in reckless credit-card spending. Unfortunately, they've also made it harder to prove your creditworthiness. Showing card issuers you can repay your debt without 40-hour-a-week employment may be the trickiest part for college students.
Without a full-time job, paying your bills on time is the only way to prove yourself to credit card companies. You're probably asking the obvious question: How can I establish a good credit history if no one will give me a card in the first place?
Why Do You Need A Credit Score?
Most unsecured credit card offers require people to have a certain credit score to qualify. That’s because your credit score is a measure of how much of a risk you pose to the credit card company. The higher your score, the less likely you are to miss payments or be late with your bills.
Your credit score is formed from five different categories. Your payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, recent inquiries, and the mix of types of credit you have. Credit reporting agencies like Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian use this information to generate a score for you. Creditors and lenders then use this score to help decide if they’re going to approve your request for a credit card.
How to Get a Credit Score
It can be confusing when you’re trying to understand how credit, credit scoring, and credit approval work. Most people don’t realize how credit scores are produced or what they need to do to get one.
It’s actually really easy to start establishing credit. All you need is a repeating bill that you pay and for the company you’re paying to report your payments. That means you can establish a credit history with lots of products other than credit cards. One good example is cell phone bills. Most cell phone companies report payments to the credit scoring agencies. If your cell phone bill is in your name, then you’ll likely get a credit score pretty quickly.
Keep in mind that the speed of financial institutions and things like credit scores isn’t as fast as many people would like. It takes time to get enough data to produce an accurate credit score. Most people will have a credit score after the credit scoring agencies have been reporting payments from companies for at least 6 months. That’s the minimum amount of time it takes to get enough information to produce a credit score. Therefore, it’s important to keep that timeframe in mind when you’re considering financial planning for your future.
What to do When You Don’t Have a Credit Score
One of the biggest barriers to getting a first credit card is the lack of a credit score. It’s sort of a catch-22. You need access to credit to get a credit score, but you need a credit score to get access to credit. This can be a confusing situation for many consumers.
Thankfully, there are several options to get a credit score or even get a credit card in this situation. We’ll cover some of the best options to get your credit history established so you can grow your credit score and get the best credit cards in this section.
Ask Someone to Co-Sign
The first option for many people is to get a co-signer. A parent, grandparent, guardian, or even friend can act as a cosigner. The most important thing is that your cosigner has a good credit history so you’re more likely to get approved and get a better rate. Credit card companies are more likely to approve someone with a cosigner because it increases the odds that they’ll get paid.
Your co-signer's reliable income and credit history will open doors for you. However, be aware that missing a payment or paying late just once impacts his or her credit.
Also, make sure that you have a cosigner’s permission before listing them on any application for a credit card. Otherwise, you run the risk of legal problems and being charged with identity fraud.
When you become an authorized user on someone else’s account, the account stays in his or her name. However, you will have a card with your name on it, and the cardholder’s good payment history helps you build your own credit.
If you become an authorized user on someone else’s account, then it’s important to understand what your limits are with that person. You’ll also want to make sure you can pay them back for any money you spend on the credit card. That’s because the bill goes to the primary account holder. Most credit card companies don’t offer separate bills for different authorized users.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, as an authorized user, the primary account holder will have access to your purchase history. That means you want to be sure you trust the primary account holder on any credit card where you’re an authorized user, as they’ll be able to see what you’re spending money on and where you’re spending it.
One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to become an authorized user on an account where the primary holder won’t pay their bills on time. You get the benefits of being an authorized user on your credit score, but you also get the downsides of late and missed payments if the primary account holder doesn’t pay their bill on time. That can wind up hurting your credit score more than helping it and setting you back on your quest to have a credit card of your very own.
Move to Off-Campus Housing
If you can’t get anyone to co-sign or make you an authorized user, consider moving to an off-campus house or apartment. Ask your landlord to report your rent payment history to the credit bureaus to help you establish credit. Keep in mind that landlords are not required to report your payments to the credit scoring agencies. That means you might want to ensure your landlord will report before you sign a lease if one of the reasons you’re moving to off campus housing is to help establish a credit score and credit history.
Another reason that off-campus housing can help you establish a credit history is that many utility companies, like cable, phone, gas, electricity, water, and so on, will report your payments to the credit reporting agencies. This means that you’ll establish a good credit history and credit score so long as you pay your bills on time.
Once again, it’s important to keep in mind that this process will only help people that are actually paying their bills on time. You shouldn’t move to off-campus housing if you’re not confident that you’ll be able to cover all of your costs. Doing so will hurt your credit score far more than help it.
Make Student Loan Payments
Most people that go to school get student loans. Most of the people that get student loans get deferred payments. That means they aren’t required to start making payments on their loans until they graduate from school. However, just because you’re not required to start making payments doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to start making payments.
Making early payments on your student loans is a great way to boost your credit score. Student loan servicers are required by law to report payments to the credit scoring agencies. Paying on your student loans every month, even if it’s as little as $20, will help establish good payment history for you, boosting your credit score.
Additionally, making early payments on your student loans will also help you out financially in the long run. It will lower the amount of money you pay in interest overall and will help keep your monthly bills lower when you start making payments. As a result, you’ll have more disposable income and will be more likely to cover all of your bills.
Get a Secured Credit Card
Secured credit cards are often looked upon as last-resort options. Many carry high interest rates and equally exorbitant fees. Not all secured cards are created equal, though. It is possible to find a secured card with reasonable rates and fees. Look for a card from a reputable company and compare rates before applying.
You’ll need an outlay of cash to make a deposit equal to your line of credit. Make small purchases and pay your balance in full and on time. Before you know it, you’ll be the proud owner of a respectable credit history.
Another benefit of a secured credit card is that most companies will allow you to transform your secured card into an unsecured card by returning your deposit after you’ve made a certain number of on-time payments. This can be a great way to demonstrate financial responsibility and get rewarded for your diligence when it comes to paying bills on time.
Get a Job
The biggest barrier for most people when it comes to getting a credit card is proving to the company that they’ll be able to pay their bills on time. One of the best ways to do this is to get a job. If you have regular income that you can rely on, then a credit card company is more likely to have faith that you’ll be able to pay back your card.
You may need to submit proof that you have a job for some credit cards. This can come in the form of a paycheck stub or a tax return. Being able to show that you have a reliable source of income can go a long way in convincing a credit card company to approve you for credit even if your credit history is sparse or your credit score is less than perfect.
Choosing the Best Strategy to Establish Credit
All of the methods listed above can help you establish and improve your credit score. You can choose one, a few, or all of them, depending on your situation. The most important thing is to make sure that any information that gets reported to the credit scoring agencies is positive.
That means the best way to get and increase your credit score is to choose methods you know you’ll be able to execute. Don’t become an authorized user on someone’s account if they can’t pay their bills on time. Don’t move to off campus housing if you aren’t sure you’ll be able to pay your bills.
It’s important to pick and choose when it comes to strategies to boost your credit and get your first credit card. Remember, the credit card itself is a tool that needs to be used responsibly. Therefore, the best way to get one is to show credit card companies that you can be trusted to pay your bills on time. None of the methods we’ve listed above will work if they produce negative information about your ability to cover your bills.
Now that you see how much work it takes to establish credit, the importance of maintaining good credit should be equally obvious. Your first credit card can help you build the credit you need to buy your first home, take a month to travel, or even start a business. Keep up the good work, and you’ll be on the path to building that post-graduation dream life of yours.
General Frist Credit Card Questions
This section covers the general questions people have about getting their first credit card.
What is a good first credit card?
Everyone has their one best first credit card. You should find one that fits your needs based on why you want a credit card. If you're starting out with a low score then start looking at credit cards poor credit options first.
How to use a credit card for the first time?
You can use your credit card for the first time just like any other card, so long as you’ve followed the card issuer’s instructions on how to activate the card.
How to choose a credit card for the first time?
The best way to choose a credit card for the first time depends on what you want a card for. If you want miles or travel rewards, focus on those cards. If you want emergency funds, then focus on cards with no annual fees. If you shop at retail stores a lot then look at easy store credit cards to get.
When to get first credit card?
The best time to get your first credit card is when you’re confident that you’ll be able to use it responsibly and pay your balance off in full each month.
What to do with your first credit card?
That depends on what your goals are. For many people, the best option is to make small regular purchase with the card that you can afford to pay off in full each month.
When will my first credit card payment be due?
You’ll need to talk to your card servicer to find out when your first payment will be due. You can usually find this information on an online account you get with the card issuer.
What to know before getting your first credit card?
The most important thing to know before getting your first credit card is how interest accumulates and works. That will help you stop your credit card bill from ballooning.
Should you keep your first credit card?
In pretty much all cases, yes. Even if you’re not using it as your primary card, it’s still a good idea to leave one purchase a month and pay it off. This keeps your credit score high by increasing the age of your accounts and payment history and decreasing your credit utilization.
When do you get your first credit card bill?
It depends on how your particular credit card company structures payments. You’ll need to talk to them to see when your bill will come.
When will I get my first credit card statement?
You’ll usually get your first credit card statement 30-35 days after opening your credit card account.
How to manage your first credit card?
The best way to manage your first credit card is to ensure you never spend more in a month than you can afford to pay off at the end of the month.
How to use credit card online first time?
You should be able to use your credit card online first time by just entering your information if you activated the card according to your card issuer’s instructions.
Who gives credit cards to first timers?
Almost any bank or credit card issuer will give a credit card to a first timer if they have a pre-existing credit history that qualifies them. If you don’t have an established credit history, then secured credit cards are your best bet. Take a look at our credit card comparison to see which one best fits your needs.
Can I apply two credit cards for first time?
You can apply for two credit cards for the first time. Also, this will only show up as one inquiry on your credit report, as the credit scoring agencies allow for shopping around for the best rates. Your first credit card apply experience may be more of hunt but don't let it frustrate you too much.
How to decide on a first credit card?
The best way to decide on a first credit card is to understand what you want a credit card for. If you’re just looking to build your credit score, focus on lower interest rates. Otherwise, focus on the type of rewards and benefits you want. For example a 2 cash back credit card would be a nice first option to have.
What to do when you get your first credit card?
It’s up to you what you do when you get your first credit card! The best option is usually to make small purchases on it that you’ll be able to pay off in full at the end of the month. If you're planning on traveling then take a look at the best credit card for travel insurance.
What to buy with first credit card?
There’s no limit to what you can buy with your first credit card. We recommend making small purchases that you’ll be able to completely pay off so you don’t carry a balance and hurt your credit score.
Can I close a credit card after free first year?
You can close a credit card after the free first year. However, you’ll still owe anything your charged as well as any deferred interest that applies to your charges. You might like free balance transfer credit card offers.
Can my first credit card be unsecured?
Yes, you can get an unsecured credit card as a first credit card. You just need a credit score, which you can get from paying non-credit card bills. Learn more about how to get a secured credit card.
Getting Your First Credit Card
We’ll answer the most common questions people have about getting their first credit card in this section.
How to get a credit card for the first time?
You can get a credit card for the first time by knowing your credit score and using it to filter different options. This will let you know what credit cards you can be approved for. Start by looking at credit cards for no credit history.
How to get your first credit card with Chase?
It can be hard to get a Chase credit card, as they have higher credit score requirements than many other companies. Focus on improving your credit score to qualify. In the meantime see if you can qualify for cash bonus credit cards.
How to get approved for first credit card?
The best way to get approved for your first credit card is to establish a credit history and good credit score. If you can’t wait that long, then a secured credit card is a great place to start. Once your score improves you will likely start receiving offers for prequalified credit cards.
How to open a credit card for the first time?
You can open a credit card for the first time by finding a company that is likely to approve you and then applying. Focus on companies and cards that are designed for people in your credit score range. So if your credit is really low then look at credit cards for bad credit unsecured options.
What is the first step in choosing a credit card?
The first step in choosing a credit card is to understand your credit score. This will help you narrow down your options for cards that you can get approved for, making the decision easier.
How can I apply for my first credit card?
You can apply for your first credit card by using a credit card search tool to see what companies are most likely to approve your application. Focus on these cards for your greatest chance of success. For example you may want to avoid credit cards that require good to excellent credit like airline miles cards if your score is not high enough yet. Learn more: Are airline credit cards worth it?
Where to get your first credit card with no credit?
The best place to get your first credit card with no credit is from a secured credit card provider. You’ll pay a set fee which will become your credit limit. You can earn your deposit back after you make regular on-time payments.
How to sign up for your first credit card?
You can sign up for your first credit card by researching your credit score and seeing what cards might be a good option for you. Then, compare the options to choose the best one to apply for.
What is the best first credit card to have?
There’s no single best first credit card to have. It depends on why you want a credit card. Figure out what credit cards you can qualify for and then compare them to reach a decision. For example, take a look at the best credit card offers 2020 has to offer.
What to look for in a first credit card?
The best thing to look for in a first credit card depends on why you want a credit card. For most people, the lowest APR possible should be your top priority, as it means it will be easier to pay off your bill.
Can first time credit card users get denied?
Yes, first time credit card users can be denied from getting a credit card. If that’s the case, you should consider a secured credit card to boost your credit score and chances approval.
Do i have to get a secured credit card first?
You don’t have to get a secured credit card first. If you have a credit history, then many companies will be willing to approve you for an unsecured credit card first.
First Credit Card for Specific People
This section answers the most common questions about first credit cards for specific groups of people.
What is the best first credit card for students?
The best first credit card for students is the one that will be easiest to pay off each month. Make sure your limit isn’t too high and your rates are as low as possible. There is even a credit card for international students.
How to get your first business credit card?
There are a few steps you’ll need to go through to get a business credit card. The first is establishing a business credit score. Once you have that, you’ll start getting business credit card offers. You may find cash back business credit cards to be a good fit.
How to get your first credit card at 18?
The best way to get your first credit card at 18 is to get a secured credit card. This will give you the flexibility of a credit card while building your credit so you can get an unsecured card. Make sure you're using credit cards no annual fee attached.
Where should I apply for my first credit card?
That depends on your needs and your credit score. We recommend using online credit card search tools to help determine the best option for you.
How obtain first credit card for a college student?
It’s pretty easy to obtain a first credit card as a college student. Many banks have special credit card offers for students. Try checking with these banks to see if you qualify.
How to get my son his first credit card?
If your son is over 18, then he’ll have to get his credit card on his own. You can also add him as an authorized user to your account to help establish a credit history for him.
How to get your first credit card at 19?
The best way to get your first credit card at 19 depends on your credit score. If you have a credit score and credit history, then you can use that to see what cards you can apply for and compare them. If you don’t, then a secured credit card might be your best option.
How to get your first credit card without a cosigner?
You can get your first credit card without a cosigner by getting a secured credit card. You’ll pay a lump security deposit up front and get the card. You can earn your deposit back with responsible, on-time payments.
How to get your first credit card without income?
It’s going to be very hard to get a credit card without any income. You should try a secured credit card, as these have lower qualification requirements than unsecured credit cards.
Specific Credit Card Questions
We’ll answer questions about specific credit cards in this section.
Is Chase Freedom Unlimited a good first credit card?
If you can qualify for it, then yes. Chase Unlimited is a great first credit card for most people. It has a good rate and good rewards.
Is American Express a good first credit card?
Yes, if you can qualify for an American Express card as your first credit card then it’s usually a good option. Just make sure you can cover any fees and will be able to pay off your balance in full each month.
How to use HDFC credit card for the first time?
You can use your HDFC credit card for the first time by activating it according to the instructions that you got from HDFC. After that, you’ll be able to use the card normally.
How to activate Axis Bank credit card first time?
You can activate your Axis Bank credit card for the first time by logging on to your online account. Go to Accounts and click on My Credit Cards. Select More Services, and from there you’ll find the option to activate your card.
Can my first credit card be PayPal credit card?
A PayPal credit card can be your first credit card. You’ll need to qualify and apply for it, but there’s no reason you can go for a PayPal card as your first card.
First Credit Card Interest Rates and Credit Limits
This section covers the most common questions about first credit card interest rates and credit limits.
What is a good APR for a first credit card?
The average APR for a first credit card in the US is about 22%. That means anything under 22% will be a good APR. So the 0 percent credit cards will probably be out of reach until you build up your credit enough to qualify.
What is the limit on your first credit card?
There’s no set rule on the limit for your first credit card. It depends on your qualifications and the type of credit card you’re applying for.
How much do you get on your first credit card?
The credit limit you get on you first credit card depends on lots of different factors, like your credit score, credit history, and the type of credit card you have.
Do you accrue interest on first month of credit card?
Yes. That interest may be deferred based on promotional deals from the card company, but you’ll always accrue interest on a credit card.
How much can I spend on my first credit card?
You’ll get notified of your credit limit by your bank when you get your first credit card. You should log into your account online if you’re not sure what your limit is.
First Credit Card and Credit Score
We’ll answer your questions about first credit cards and credit scores in this section.
How to use first credit card to build credit?
How long from getting first credit card to 750?
There’s no set amount of time it will take to go from your first credit card to a 750 credit score. However, your score will go up faster if you don’t carry a balance and make regular, on-time payments. Remember you can also look at credit card fair credit options.
How long to get a credit score first credit card?
It usually takes about 6 months of credit reporting for a credit agency to produce a score for you. This score will help you know what first credit card you can get. Keep in mind you can get credit cards with average credit.
Financial Advisor - MoneyBeagle.com
Michelle is part of our expert team of financial advisors with a proven track record in the credit card industry. After graduating with an Economics Degree focusing on Personal Finance, she got involved with several credit and debt counseling startups.