best starter credit cards
young woman smiling at the camera while holding a credit card over her eye.

For a long time, people with little or no credit history had limited options regarding credit cards. However, with starter credit cards, they have more options; they could get secured credit cards requiring a security deposit, student credit cards, or unsecured credit cards with high APRs and ongoing fees.

Here’s a guide on starter credit cards, why you should get one, things to look out for, and the best starter cards available.

What Is a Starter Credit Card?

A starter credit card is made for those with low credit scores or little credit history to help them create and raise their credit score. This includes students, immigrants, and those looking to rebuild their credit after past mistakes.

Starter credit cards typically have a starting credit limit of $300 or more, annual fees as low as $0, and rewards of up to 1% cash back on purchases. Also, by using these cards responsibly and making on-time monthly payments, you can gain access to the credit system and build a solid credit history.

Types of Starter Credit Cards

Individuals or a business with no credit or bad credit can use three types of starter credit cards to build their credit history. They are: 

Secured Credit Cards

Due to the lower risk to the lender, secured cards are easier to qualify for than unsecured ones. On the other hand, secured credit cards work the same way as unsecured cards, with the main difference being that a security deposit must be approved. 

Usually, this security deposit is equal to the credit limit you want, and you’ll most likely get the deposit back after you close the account. However, some card issuers may refund your deposit while your account is still open, converting it into an unsecured card.

Student Credit Cards

Student credit cards are designed for students with limited or no credit history and typically offer better terms. You can qualify for a student credit card if you’re a college student. Unlike secured cards, you don’t need a security deposit to get approved for one of these.

Most student credit cards don’t charge an annual fee; many even offer rewards on everyday purchases.  

Unsecured Credit Cards 

Some credit card issuers offer consumers the opportunity to establish credit without a security deposit; however, these cards typically carry high-interest rates. 

A borrower with limited credit is dangerous, and issuers base interest rates on risk. Therefore, the interest rates will be higher. The lower your credit score, the higher your risk and, consequently, your interest rates. Upon approval, you may occasionally be required to pay a one-time processing or program fee, a monthly fee, an annual fee, and an APR more significant than 30%.

Should I Get a Starter Credit Card?

Getting a starter credit card will be a good idea if you’re new to credit. The most important reason for getting one is that it’ll make qualifying for inexpensive credit easier. Additionally, getting one will also depend on your financial situation and goals. Here are some factors to consider if you’re thinking about getting one:

#1. Credit Building

If you are new to credit, a starter credit card can help you establish and improve your credit score, hence making it easier to qualify for loans and other credit products in the future.

#2. Financial Responsibility

If you are responsible with your spending and pay your bills on time and in full every month, then a starter credit card can help you develop good financial habits. 

#3. Rewards and Perks

Some starter credit cards offer rewards on spending, such as cash back, and other perks like travel benefits.

#4. Qualification Requirements

Starter credit cards have low credit requirements, making them accessible to persons or a business with no credit history or fair-to-bad credit scores. However, eligibility requirements have recently become stricter. 

#5. Fees and Interest

Starter credit cards may have annual fees or other maintenance costs, but some offer low or no annual fees. Choosing a card with low fees and interest rates is important to build credit without spending much money.

What Credit Card Is Easiest to Get?

Getting a secured card is easier than an unsecured one because you take the risk away from the issuer. You’re securing the loan with a deposit, which will act as your credit limit.

The easiest credit card to get depends on your credit score, financial situation, and bank relationships. Also, it is essential to compare different credit cards and choose the one that best suits your needs and financial situation.

Here are the best starter credit cards based on different credit scenarios:

#1. No Credit or Limited Credit History

  • OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card: No credit check is required for approval, but a minimum $200 deposit is needed. It has a $35 annual fee.
  • Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card: This card is designed for people with no credit history. A deposit is required, and you can have a credit limit of up to $1,000 

#2. Fair Credit

  • Petal® 2 Visa® Credit Card: Accepts applicants with limited credit, and also offers 1-5% cash back on purchases, and has a $0 annual fee 

#3. Good Credit

  • Capital One Quicksilver: Requires good credit or better for approval and also offers great rewards for spending 

#4. Students

  • Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
  • Capital One SavorOne Student Card

#5. Instant Approval

  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: You can access the card number immediately after being approved for an account online.

#6. Business

  • Capital One Spark Classic for Business: This starter credit card is one of the best cards for business. It was designed for fair credit and charges no fee on foreign transaction fees, and offers free employee cards.
  • The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express: Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar on everyday business purchases up to the first $50,000 in purchases per year. One of the best starter credit cards for borrowing money for business

Can You Get a Credit Card with No Credit?

It is possible to get a credit card with no credit history. Starter credit cards are designed for individuals or a business with limited or no credit history. Also, people with no credit can use cards such as unsecured, student, and secured credit cards.

Pros of starter credit cards for people with no credit history:

  • Building Credit History: Starter credit cards are designed for people with no credit history, allowing them to build their credit profile from scratch.
  • High Approval Rates: Starter credit cards typically have high approval rates for applicants with no credit history, making them more accessible to those looking to start building credit
  • Credit Score Monitoring: Some starter credit cards offer free credit score monitoring, allowing users to track their progress and receive tips on how to improve their credit score

Cons of starter credit cards for people with no credit history:

  • High-Interest Rates: Starter credit cards may have higher interest rates than cards designed for people with established credit, leading to higher costs if you carry a balance from monthly
  • Impact on Credit Score: Although responsibly using a starter credit card can build your credit score, missing a payment or high credit utilization can harm your credit score 
  • Limited Credit Limit: Starter credit cards often come with low credit limits, hence, restricting your spending, and might need to be increased for larger purchases or emergencies.

What Is a Good Credit Card Amount to Start With?

A good credit card amount to start with depends on your individual needs and financial standing. Credit card limits can vary greatly, sometimes by thousands of dollars. However, starter credit cards usually have a $300+ starting credit limit 

When choosing a credit card to start with, consider the following factors:

  • Annual fees: Look for cards with low or no annual fees 
  • Interest rates: Aim for a card with a low-interest rate, as credit cards can have high rates 
  • Rewards and benefits: Some starter credit cards offer cashback, points, or other benefits like rental car insurance or trip cancellation coverage.
  • Credit-building features: Choose a card that reports to all three major credit bureaus to help build your credit.

Is it Hard to Get Starter Credit Card?

Getting a starter credit card is relatively easy, as there are various options for beginners with no or limited credit history. Here are some of the easiest credit cards to get for beginners:

#1. Petal® 2 Visa® Credit Card

This card is available even to beginners with no credit history and has no annual fee. It offers 1-1.5% cash back on eligible purchases and reports account activity to all three credit bureaus, helping you build a good credit score if managed responsibly

#2. OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

This card requires no credit check for approval, making it easy to get for those with no credit. It is among the best starter cards for those starting over after past mistakes with credit 

#3. Capital One Platinum Credit Card

This unsecured card is available for those with limited credit histories and has a $0 annual fee. It suits those with limited or fair credit

#4. Chase Freedom Student Credit Card

This is among the best starter cards designed for students. It has a $0 annual fee and offers $50 after the first purchase within the first 3 months and 1% cash back on all purchases.

Who Qualifies for a Credit Card?

To qualify for a credit card, applicants must meet specific criteria, which vary depending on the card issuer and the type. 

Some factors that credit card issuers consider when evaluating applicants include:

#1. Age

The minimum age to independently apply for a credit card is 18. However, applicants aged 18-20 may need to prove they have a steady income or get a co-signer on their application, such as a parent or a guardian. 

#2. Minimum Income or Assets

Credit card issuers want to make sure applicants have enough money to pay their bills. Therefore, they must consider whether the applicant can make the minimum monthly payments required by law. Full-time employment is not always necessary, and applicants can include other sources of income or household income on their applications

#3. Credit History

A longer and better credit history makes it easier to get a credit card because it shows the issuer that the applicant knows how to handle credit responsibly.

#4. Type of Issuer and Credit Card

Applicants may be more likely to get a credit card if they apply with the right issuer and card type. Hence, smaller banks, credit unions, and alternative credit card issuers may have more flexible standards. Also, secured cards, student credit cards, and store cards may be more accessible to applicants with limited or poor credit.

#5. Pre-Qualification

Pre-qualifying for a credit card can help applicants determine which cards they will likely get approval for without affecting their credit score.


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