10 Best Starter Credit Cards

Starter credit cards provide one of the most accessible methods of building credit. They report to all major credit bureaus. Because of this, starter credit cards rapidly establish positive credit history, leading to offers for credit cards with lower interest rates, higher credit limits and bigger rewards.

Starter Credit Cards Product FAQ

1. What Is a Starter Credit Card?

Starter credit cards are designed for people who have limited credit history and don’t qualify for non-starter credit cards.

2. Who Qualifies for Starter Credit Cards?

Because many starter credit cards are secured, most adults qualify.

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3. Can You Qualify If You Have Bad Credit?

Yes. Some secured cards require no credit check, and many unsecured accounts lend to people with bad credit.

4. What Credit Limits Do Starter Credit Cards Offer?

Starter credit cards have low limits of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the bank and cardholder’s credit history.

5. Can You Get a Credit Line Increase?

Starter credit cards are designed to start with lower credit lines that are increased over time with responsible use.

How We Reviewed

We reviewed 10 of the most popular starter credit cards, where we analyzed their features, interest rates and fees. This comparison will show which starter credit card is right for you.

Overall Price Range

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Some credit card companies charge an annual fee, which ranges from around $30 to around $100. Interest rates on starter credit cards range from about 14% to nearly 30%.

What We Reviewed

  • Chase Freedom
  • Capital One QuicksilverOne
  • Discover it
  • Capital One Secured
  • Discover it Secured
  • OpenSky Secured Visa Card
  • Citi Double Cash
  • Capital One Platinum
  • Green Dot Visa Secured
  • First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard Secured

Chase Freedom

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Features

Chase Freedom is a top choice for those seeking a sign-up bonus. New cardholders recieve a $150 bonus if they spend $500 on purchases within three months of activating their Chase Freedom cards. In addition to the bonus, Chase Freedom cardholders earn 5% cash back on their first $1,500 in purchases. The 5% cash back applies only to specified purchase categories, which Chase rotates each month. A 1% cash back rewards program applies to all other purchases.

Rates

  • 0% introductory APR and balance transfers for 15 months
  • 17.24% to 25.99% APR after an introductory period

Fees

  • 5% cash advance fee ($10 minimum)
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • 3% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum)
  • No annual fee

Approval for a Chase Freedom card requires a credit score in the good range.

Capital One QuicksilverOne

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Features

The Capital One QuickSilverOne offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Capital One QuicksilverOne rewards never expire and you can redeem themĀ at any time. This card is a good choice for a starter credit card because Capital One automatically reviews new accounts for credit line increases if the cardholder makes the first five monthly payments on time.

Rates

  • 26.9% variable APR
  • No introductory rate

Fees:

  • 3% cash advance fee ($10 minimum)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No annual fee

Approval for a CapitalOneQuickSliverOne card requires an average credit score.

Discover IT

Features

The Discover IT card provides plenty of benefits, so it’s an ideal starter credit card for those who qualify. The card pays 5% cash back on the first $1,500 spent each quarter. Discover rotates the cash back categories on a quarterly basis. All other purchases are eligible for 1% cash back. 

Card members also recieve a bonus at the end of their first year that is equal to the cashback rewards earned. The Discover IT card also helps customers build good credit by providing free access to their credit scores at any time through the Discover Scorecard feature.

To be eligible for the 5% cashback, cardholders must register for the program at the start of each quarter.
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Rates

  • 0% introductory APR for 14 months
  • 14.24% to 25.24% variable interest rate

Fees:

  • 3% balance transfer fee
  • 5% cash advance fee ($10 minimum)
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee

Applicants must have a credit score in the good range to qualify.

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Capital One Secured

Features

For people with little or no credit history, a secured card may be the only option. Once the secured card appears on their credit report, offers for unsecured cards will start arriving in the mail. With Capital One Secured, some customers will qualify for a $200 credit line while only being required to make a $49 or $99 security deposit. After 5 on-time payments, Capital One automatically reviews accounts for credit line increases.

Rates

  • 26.99% APR
  • No introductory rate

Fees:

  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee

Customers with poor credit scores qualify for the Capital One Secured Card.

Discover IT Secured

Features

For those who don’t qualify for the Discover IT, the Discover IT Secured card provides an attractive alternative. Each quarter, cardholders earn 2% cashback for the first $1,000 in purchases at restaurants and gas stations. A 1% cashback reward applies to all other purchases. As with the Discover IT card, cardholders recieve a bonus at the end of their first year equal to their cashback rewards. Rewards are redeemableĀ at any time.

Rates

  • 25.24% APR
  • No introductory rate

Fees:

  • 3% balance transfer fee
  • 5% cash advance fee ($10 minimum)
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee

Applicants with poor credit scores qualify for the Discover It Secured.

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OpenSky Secured Visa Card

Features

OpenSky requires no credit check, making it ideal for people with no or very low credit scores. It requires a $200 minimum deposit and has a $3,000 maximum. The security deposit must be 100% of the credit line. OpenSky reports to all major credit bureaus.

Rates

  • 19.64% APR
  • No introductory rate

Fees:

  • 5% cash advance fee ($6 minimum)
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • $35 annual fee

Citi Double Cash

Features

If you want your starter credit card to yield big rewards, you cannot go wrong with the Citi Double Cash Card. The name Citi Double Cash comes from the fact it rewards card members both when they make purchases and pay off their balances. The card comes with Citi Private Pass, which provides special access to event tickets. In addition, card members benefit from the Citi Price Rewind, which credits their accounts with the difference if the price of a product they purchased drops within 60 days.

Rates

  • 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months
  • 15.99% to 25.99% APR

Fees:

  • 3% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum)
  • 5% of the cash advance ($10 minimum)
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
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Capital One Platinum

Features

This card is designed for building credit, so it’s a good choice for people with limited credit history. Approval is possible with just a fair credit history as well. It’s a no-frills card but will establish credit and provide tools for monitoring your credit profile.

Rates

  • 26.96% APR
  • No introductory APR

Fees:

  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 3% cash advance fee ($10 minimum)
  • No annual fee

Green Dot Visa Secured

Features

The Green Dot Corporation offers more than debit cards. It also provides the Green Dot Visa Secured credit card. The account has a $200 minimum and on-time payments are reported to all major credit bureaus.

Rates

  • 19.99%
  • No introductory rate

Fees:

  • 5% cash advance fee ($5 minimum)
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • $39 annual fee
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First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard Secured

Features

This starter credit card is a great option for credit building or rebuilding. It requires a minimum $200 deposit and reports to all major credit bureaus.

Rates

  • 14.4% APR
  • No introductory interest rate

Fees:

  • 3% cash advance fee ($10 minimum)
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • $39 annual fee

The Verdict

The Chase Freedom credit card provides the most generous rewards, while the Discover IT card offers generous rewards and unbeatable introductory and balance transfer rates. If you carry a balance and need a starter credit card, the Discover IT is our recommended choice. Those more interested in rewards who don’t carry a balance should apply for the Chase Freedom card.

It’s important to note that these two cards are harder to qualify for. If you can’t qualify for them yet, apply for other starter credit cards and a secured card if necessary. With responsible use of these cards, qualifying for a Discover IT and Chase Freedom cards is possible down the road.

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