6 Best First Credit Cards To Build Credit

Start your credit journey off on the right foot with a credit card designed for building your score. Look for one with a low interest rate, no annual fee, and rewards that maximize your spending power.

Best first credit cards to build credit

Are you ready to take the first step towards financial independence and start building your credit history? The right credit card can help you do that, but with so many options available it can be hard to know which one is best for you. Fear not – this article will provide all the information you need to make an informed decision about choosing the best first credit card to build credit.

We’ll look at the different types of cards, how to use them responsibly, and other factors to consider before making a decision of choosing the first credit card for building credit. With this in mind, you can set yourself up for success in the long term by laying down the right foundation for your financial future.

6 Best First Credit Cards To Build Credit

Consider any one of these credit cards for first-timers whose focus is to build their credit history.

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OpenSky Secured Visa

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4.8/5Best choice overall

17.39%500+Visit website

Capital One Platinum Mastercard

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4.7/5Low interest rates

11.49%–26.99%550+Visit website

Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa®

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4.6/5Great credit-building features

14.49%–25.49%550Visit website

Discover it® Secured

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4.6/5Good secured card

14.99%–24.99%N/AVisit website

Capital One Journey Student Card

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4.5/5Good choice for students

26.99%600+Visit website

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured

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4.4/5Good rewards

17.99–26.99%N/AVisit website

#1 OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card 

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is our top-rated best first credit card to build credit with easily. This is a card that’s an ideal choice for those with a limited or no credit history, as it allows for flexible payments and rewards like cashback. 

Benefits and Rewards: No credit check, access to your VantageScore® 3.0 Credit Score and cashback rewards. 

Fees and Interest Rates: 17.39% APR with no late payment or penalty fees. 

Minimum Credit Score Required: No minimum credit score required, only a security deposit. As a standard though, depending on the issuer, a score of 600 is advised.

#2 Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Building credit with this card is a helpful process. This is because you get access to free monthly credit score tracking. You also benefit from the fact that there’s no balance transfer and no annual fee. 

Benefits and Rewards: Free credit score tracking; access to Capital One’s CreditWise financial health assessment tool.

Fees and Interest Rates: No annual fee; variable APR of 26.99%.

Minimum Credit Score Required: None (must have a valid Social Security Number). As a standard, depending on the issuer, 650 or higher is advised. 

#3 Petal® 2 Visa® Credit Card 

This card is a great choice for those looking to build their credit, as spending can increase your available credit limit over time provided that they are on-time payments.

Benefits and Rewards: Cashback rewards, no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee. 

Fees and Interest Rates: 14.49%–25.49% APR with no late payment or penalty fees.

Minimum Credit Score Required: No minimum credit score but as a standard, a score of at least 550 is advised. 

#4 Discover it Secured Credit Card

This is one of the most popular first credit cards for building credit. This is because the perks that this card offers include cash-back rewards on everyday purchases as well as the potential for an increased credit limit. 

Benefits and Rewards: 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter; 1% Cashback on all other purchases. 

Fees and Interest Rates: No annual fee; variable APR of 24.49%.

Minimum Credit Score Required: None (must provide security deposit). As a standard, depending on the issuer, a score of 600 is advised.

#5 Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® 

This credit card is perfect for students looking to build their credit, as it offers rewards and access to your monthly FICO® Credit Score.

Benefits and Rewards: 1% cash back on all purchases, getting higher up to 1.25%, access to your FICO® Credit Score and no annual fee. 

Fees and Interest Rates: 26.99% APR and 3% cash back on travel and dining.

Minimum Credit Score Required: No minimum credit score but as a standard, a score of 600 is advised.

#6 Bank of America Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card

This card is great for building credit history thanks to its cash-back rewards system coupled with the potential to earn a higher credit limit over time.

Benefits and Rewards: Earn 1% cash back on all purchases, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% cash back on gas.

Fees and Interest Rates$39 annual fee; variable APR of 17.99–26.99%.

Minimum Credit Score RequiredNone (must provide security deposit). As a standard, depending on the issuer, a score of 600 is advised.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best First Credit Card to Build Credit

Familiarising yourself with the following will help place you in the best position to select your ideal credit card. 

Types of Credit Cards

To help you choose the best credit card that will assist in building up your credit score, it’s important to know the difference between the types of credit cards you can get

Secured credit cards

A secured credit card requires a deposit that is used as collateral to secure the card, much like a loan. The advantages of secured cards include low fees and higher approval rates, while the main downside is having to pay an upfront fee for the security deposit. 

Pros: Low fees; Higher approval rates
Cons: Need to pay an upfront fee for the security deposit

Unsecured credit cards

An unsecured credit card requires no collateral or deposits, and can be used just like any other type of credit card. They tend to have higher interest rates than secured cards, but offer more rewards and benefits. 

Pros: No collateral or deposits; Rewards and benefits are available
Cons: Higher interest rates than secured cards 

Student credit cards

As the name suggests, student credit cards are designed for college students with experience in managing a budget. They typically offer lower interest rates, higher spending limits, and rewards tailored to student needs. 

Pros: Lower interest rates; Higher spending limits; Rewards tailored to student needs
Cons: Limited credit history may lead to higher fees and lower rewards 

Retail credit cards

This type of credit card is offered by specific retailers, often giving customers discounts and special offers when they shop with that store. Many of these cards have higher interest rates, so it is important to read the fine print before signing up. 

Pros: Discounts and special offers when shopping with that retailer; Easier approval process than other cards
Cons: High interest rates; Limited use outside of the retail store 

Annual fees

The annual fee is the amount you may be charged each year by the credit card issuer for using your credit card. Make sure that you consider any fees associated with a card before applying, as these could add up over time and eat away at any rewards or benefits offered. 

Interest rates 

The interest rate is the amount charged by lenders to borrowers for use of their money. When it comes to credit cards, interest rates can vary greatly and should be carefully considered when choosing a card. High interest rates can quickly add up, making it difficult to pay off any balances you may have on your card. 

Rewards and perks

These are the additional benefits that come with certain credit cards. These can include cash back on purchases, points programs, or discounts on travel as well as other services. It’s important to pay attention to these rewards when selecting a card as they could save you money in the long run.

Credit limit 

Your credit limit refers to the amount of money you can spend with a credit card before needing to pay back the balance. It’s important to make sure that this limit is sufficient for your needs, as going over it could have negative impacts on your credit score. 

Credit reporting 

When a credit card issuer reports activity on the account to one of the major credit bureaus, this process is called credit reporting. Credit card issuers may report a range of information, including payment history and current balance, which can impact your overall credit score. When selecting a card, it’s important to make sure that the issuer regularly reports activity on the account. 

How to Apply For a First Credit Card

The process of applying for a credit card for the first time is relatively straightforward. 

Eligibility requirements

Take note of the following requirements in order to apply for a credit card. 

  • Be at least 18 years old 
  • Have a valid government-issued ID or Social Security Number  
  • Have an income (which can include a part-time job, allowance from parents, or student loan)
  • Demonstrate responsible use of credit 

Steps to Apply

When applying for a credit card for the first time, you can expect to follow these steps:

Step 1: Gather Documents

Before you can apply, you will need to have some documents handy that may include the following:

  • Proof of identity such as a passport or driver’s license.
  • Proof of address such as a utility bill or phone bill.
  • Employment information such as pay stubs or tax returns (if applicable).
  • Bank statements or other financial documents (if applicable).
  • Authorization for a credit check (if required).

Step 2: Compare Offers

Look through different credit card offers to find the one that best fits your needs. Make sure you compare things like Annual Percentage Rates (APRs), bonuses, rewards, and fees associated with credit cards.

Step 3: Fill Out Application

Once you have chosen a credit card, fill out the application form. This will usually involve entering your personal information, such as your address, date of birth, and current employment status.

Step 4: Submit Application

After you’ve filled out the application form, make sure to double-check it for accuracy before submitting it. Having done that, all you need to do is wait for a response from the lender.

Tips for Building Credit with a Credit Card

Consider the following tips and tricks to help you build your credit.  

Make your payments on time

Doing this is essential to building a good credit score as it shows that you can manage your finances responsibly. Missing payments, in contrast, will have a negative effect on your credit score and could cost you more money in the long run.

Try to keep your balance low

Maintaining a low balance on your credit card is another good habit that will help you build a good score. Aim to pay off your balance in full each month, or keep it as low as possible. 

Master one card, then try another

This advice only applies once you have mastered the responsible use of one credit card. Having more than one credit card and using them responsibly can help improve your credit score at a faster rate. This shows that you have access to different types of credit and that you’re able to manage them. Just remember to keep track of all your payments and balances, otherwise, reckless usage can result in your credit score taking a turn for the worse – with serious consequences. 


Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the best first credit cards to build credit with.

What is the minimum salary for credit card in USA?

The minimum salary requirement for a credit card in the USA will vary depending on the issuer and type of card. Generally, most issuers require that you have a steady income of at least $15,000 or more to qualify for their cards. Some may require as low as $5,000, but this is rare. 

What credit card to get as the first one?

When choosing your first credit card, it’s important to consider a few factors such as the APR (annual percentage rate), fees associated with the card, rewards programs, and other benefits. Some of the best cards for building credit are secured cards or those from issuers that specialize in helping consumers build their credit score. Having a good credit history is important to your financial future, so choose wisely! 

How many credit cards should I have to start?

When it comes to building a good credit score, starting with one card and focusing on prompt payments can be the best way to go. It may be tempting to open multiple cards to maximize potential rewards, but this can actually work against you in the long run if your credit utilization ratio is too high. Start with one card, use it responsibly and build a good payment history before considering other cards.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to building credit, having the right credit card can make a big difference. A secured credit card is one of the best ways to start, especially for those looking to establish or rebuild their credit – as long as the credit card is used responsibly. Because secured credit cards require you to make a refundable security deposit, they are typically easier to get approved for than unsecured cards, making them perfect for those with limited or no credit history. Additionally, by using your card responsibly and making regular payments on time, you can help boost your credit score over time.

Ultimately, the best card for you will depend on your individual needs and financial situation. Be sure to read all the terms and conditions associated with any card before making a decision to ensure that it is the right fit for you. With careful research and responsible use of your chosen credit card, you can be well on your way to building a great credit score.