Best First Credit Cards for No Credit in 2022

The best starter credit cards are cards you can qualify for with little to no credit history. We’ve selected the top offers based on our unique ranking algorithm so that you can easily find a card that works well for you.

Last Updated: 5/3/2022
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A common factor that connects all the top first-time credit cards is that you may qualify for them even if you don’t have a well-established or good credit history. While some such cards come with annual fees, others don’t. Since issuers make these cards available to people with poor or no credit histories, they tend to come with higher interest rates than cards meant for consumers with good to excellent credit.

Depending on the first credit card you get, you might be able to earn rewards or cash back. If you plan to use your card outside the U.S., consider getting one that charges no foreign transaction fees. Added perks that come with these cards also need your attention.

We aim to simplify how you look for a suitable first-time credit card after accounting for your specific requirements through useful tips, tables, card selections and more.

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MoneyGeek's Take: Top First-Time Credit Cards in 2022

The best beginner credit cards are usually ones that come with no annual fees, although there are a few exceptions. We’ve selected the best of the lot based on other aspects as well. These include annual percentage rates (APRs), rewards/cash back and additional benefits. You get more options to choose from further down the page.

Summary of Top Cards

Best First-Time Credit Cards for May 2022

MoneyGeek experts have narrowed down on the best first-time credit cards after accounting for factors such as the creditworthiness required to apply, annual fees, APRs, rewards/cash back and added perks. We are quick to highlight a card’s advantages as well as possible drawbacks.

Best First-Time Credit Cards for Anyone

The best first-time credit cards for the general population are typically ones that come with no annual fees, no foreign transaction fees and offer rewards or cash back. Some of these cards come with introductory spend-based bonus offers too.


  • Capital One Platinum Mastercard

    A great card for fair credit with no annual fees


    • Limited-FairCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 26.99%APR

    Terms, rates and fees apply

    Compare this credit card with other cards selected for people with average credit at CardRatings.com.

  • Capital One QuicksilverOne Rewards

    Best card for earning cash back across categories


    • Limited-FairCredit Needed
    • $39Annual Fee
    • 1.5% Cash BackRewards Rate
    • 1.5xRewards Rate on Online Shopping
    • 1.5xRewards Rate on Dining

  • Indigo Platinum Mastercard

    A great card with global access to rebuild your credit


    • Fair-GoodCredit Needed
    • $0–$99*Annual Fee
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 24.90%APR

  • Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit

    Best credit card for prequalifying with bad credit


    • Limited-PoorCredit Needed
    • $0–$99*Annual Fee
    • NoneRewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on Groceries
    • 1xRewards Rate on Gas

Best Secured Credit Cards for First-Time Cardholders

Qualifying for a secured credit card is typically easier than a regular credit card because the former requires you to pay a security deposit. Depending on your need, the best option might come with a low minimum security deposit requirement or let you get a high credit limit by paying a large security deposit. The top cards from this category usually do away with annual fees.


  • Merrick Bank Double Your Line Secured Visa

    Best credit card for training good financial habits


    • PoorCredit Needed
    • $36*Annual Fee
    • $200Min. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 17.45%APR

  • Oakstone Platinum Secured Mastercard

    An excellent secured credit card with no credit score requirement


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $49Annual Fee
    • $200Min. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 9.99%APR

  • Capital One Platinum Secured Card

    Best secured card for building credit on a budget


    • Limited-PoorCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • $49–$200*Min. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 26.99%APR

  • Citi Secured Mastercard

    Best credit card for building credit with no or limited credit history


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • $200Min. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 22.49%APR

Best Starter Credit Cards for Students

The best starter credit cards for students don’t require that you have an extensive credit history, and you may qualify for a few even if you have no credit history at all. The leading cards from this segment offer rewards or cash back. It is also common for good student credit cards to charge no annual fees.


  • Chase Freedom Student

    A solid card with rewards students are sure to appreciate


    • Limited-FairCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1% Cash BackRewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on Online Shopping
    • 1xRewards Rate on Groceries

  • Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students

    Best student cash back card for limited credit history


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1% Cash BackRewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on Online Shopping
    • 1xRewards Rate on Groceries

  • Capital One Journey Student Rewards

    Best student credit card with up to 1.25% cash back


    • Limited-FairCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1.25% Cash Back*Rewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on Online Shopping
    • 1xRewards Rate on Groceries

How We Rank First-Time Credit Cards

Our lists of the best credit cards are based on publicly available data from card issuers and other reputable sources like the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. We review each card’s fees, interest rates, rewards, benefits and more to assign a rating for each feature. These ratings are stack ranked and weighted for each card category to determine our top selections for each type of user. Because card details change regularly, we revisit our data each month to update our ratings, recommendations and other card information as needed. Learn more about our data collection and ranking process.

Top Rating Criteria for First Time Credit Cards

noCredit
Credit Needed
lowInterestAPR
APR
annualFee
Annual Fee

Quick Tips for Comparing First-Time Credit Card Offers

Starter credit cards are typically easier to qualify for than conventional credit cards meant for people with at least good credit. In addition, they give you access to revolving lines of credit, just like regular credit cards. However, these cards may come with several differences as well, which is why you need to pay attention to various aspects.

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    Annual fees

    Annual fees of starter credit cards usually range from $0 to $99.

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    APR

    It is common for starter credit cards to come with higher APRs than regular cards. However, APRs may vary significantly from one starter card to the next, thereby warranting your attention.

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    Rewards/cash back

    While the best cards from this category offer rewards or cash back, they usually offer low earn rates. For instance, the Chase Freedom Student Card, the Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students and the Capital One Journey Student Rewards Card offer just 1% cash back on purchases. If you qualify for a rewards or cash back card, you might stand to benefit through higher earn rates.

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    Need for deposit

    This aspect requires your attention if you plan to get a secured card. Typically, the security deposit you provide functions as your credit limit, although this is not always the case. For example, while the Capital One Platinum Secured Card comes with an initial credit line of $200, you need to pay a security deposit of $49, $99 or $200 based on its eligibility criteria.

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    Introductory offers

    Some of the best credit cards for beginners come with introductory spending-based offers. For example, you may stand to earn a $50 cash reward if you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months.

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    Foreign transaction fees

    If you intend to use your new credit card outside of the U.S., getting one that does not charge foreign transaction fees makes sense. With cards that charge this fee, the amount charged typically varies up to 3% of each international transaction.

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    Additional features

    While starter cards don't usually offer much in the form of added perks, you may expect features such as fraud protection and free credit score access.

Best Starter Credit Cards Compared at a Glance

Take a quick look at the best first-time credit cards based on factors such as the specific type of card you’re after, annual fees and reward rates.

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MONEYGEEK QUICK TIP

Ideally, the card that you choose will increase your credit limit or convert to an unsecured card after you've been responsible with your credit for a period of time. A higher limit adds flexibility to your finances and can increase your credit score by lowering your utilization ratio. -- Lee Huffman, credit card expert at BaldThoughts.com

MoneyGeek's Quick Guide to Understanding Your First Credit Card

People with little to no credit history and even those with poor creditworthiness commonly look for credit cards with the aim of building their credit histories. Fortunately, a number of credit card issuers provide options for such individuals. However, since card providers view people from these brackets as high-risk borrowers, these cards tend to come with higher-than-usual APRs.

The best credit cards to build credit usually charge no annual fees. Depending on the card you get, you might also be able to earn cash back or rewards.

How to Get a Credit Card for the First Time

Start by checking if you have an existing credit report and credit score. This might be the case if you’ve taken out a student loan, been an authorized user on someone else’s card, or if your rent or bill payments have been reported to credit bureaus. Once you know your credit score, you can look for cards that fit the bill accordingly.

If you’re an existing student, consider applying for a student credit card. If you have no credit history and have difficulty qualifying for a regular starter card, getting a secured card might be an option. No matter what type of card you’re looking for, compare the top ones from the category across parameters such as fees, APRs, rewards/cash back and added perks.

If you’re 18 to 21 years of age, you need to show that you earn adequate independent income to repay your debt, otherwise, you must have a cosigner. There is no minimum income requirement specified by issuers of student cards, and most let you add income from multiple sources.

How to Apply for a Credit Card for the First Time

Applying for a credit card for the first time may be daunting, and it’s best to look at how to go about the process before moving forward. Depending on the card issuer you select, you might be able to initiate the application process online, over the phone or in person. Irrespective of how you choose to apply, the information you need to provide remains the same.

1

Your name and Social Security number (a few cards don't require SSNs)

2

Your phone number, residential address and email address

3

Details about your income and housing costs

4

Housing status (homeowner, renter or living rent-free)

5

Time spent at current residence

How to Use a Credit Card to Build Credit

A credit card gives you the ability to build credit in different ways. The first is by making all your payments on time. This is because credit card issuers report payments histories to credit bureaus. While making payments on time helps build credit, making late payments or defaulting on a credit card debt has an adverse effect on your credit score. Your payment history is the most important factor that affects your creditworthiness, accounting for 35% of your FICO score.

The other way you may use a credit card to improve your credit score is by keeping your credit utilization ratio low. This refers to the amount you’ve used from your total available credit. For example, if your only credit card comes with a credit limit of $500, and you’ve used $400 of this limit, your credit utilization ratio is 80%. Ideally, your credit utilization ratio should be below 30%. This aspect accounts for 30% of your FICO score. So, if you have a credit card with a credit limit of $1,000, keep its outstanding balance below $300.

The longer you maintain your first credit card, the better it is for your credit score. This is because your credit length history accounts for 15% of your FICO score.

If you already have a student or an auto loan, getting a credit card may help improve your credit score. This is because your credit mix accounts for 10% of your FICO score.

Incidentally, applying for multiple credit cards in quick succession may affect your credit score adversely. This is because the number of hard inquiries that lenders carry out when you apply for credit and how many credit accounts you’ve opened recently account for 10% of your FICO score.

Is It Worth Getting a Credit Card?

Getting a credit card might be worth your while if you wish to build credit by developing healthy financial habits. You might also benefit by getting a credit card that offers rewards/cash back, provided the value of your rewards/cash back exceeds the cost of the card through its annual fee and interest. If you plan to maintain revolving balances in your account, you may want to consider getting a low APR card instead of a rewards card.

Using a credit card also makes it easy to avoid losing money through fraudulent transactions. For instance, in case of possible misuse of your debit card, the money disappears from your bank account straightaway. However, if you detect a fraudulent transaction on your credit card, you simply need to notify your card provider about it, and the card provider then works on resolving the matter. As long as you notify your credit card provider in time, you are not held liable for unauthorized transactions.

FAQs About First-Time Credit Cards

Improve the odds of finding the best first-time credit card by understanding the answers to other commonly asked questions about how these cards work and what to expect when you use them.

Now that you know how the best credit cards to build credit work, select one after considering your existing creditworthiness and other individual requirements. When comparing your options, make sure you pay attention to aspects such as fees, interest rates, rewards and added benefits.

Next Steps

About the Author


Rajiv Baniwal has been writing about different financial topics for over 15 years. Meticulous in his research, he makes sure he provides accurate and up-to-date information. His areas of expertise include mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, insurance and international money transfers.


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*Rates, fees or bonuses may vary or include specific stipulations. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. We recommend visiting the card issuer’s website for the most up-to-date information available.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses and recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity.
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