5 Credit Cards for First-Time Applicants

May 7th 2016

Discover It

The Discover It card is designed for first-time credit card holders who have excellent credit histories. It offers cash rewards with high caps in various categories, plus low interest rates. Understanding that college students aren't used to paying monthly bills yet, the card also offers generous forgiveness for late payments, which don't raise the annual percentage rate. The card has no annual or over-limit fees, and it lets you freeze your purchasing instantly if your card is stolen or hacked.

Citi ThankYou

The Citi ThankYou card has no annual fees and offers a number of awards on dining and entertainment purchases. These purchases convert into points; there are no limits on the number of points cardholders can earn and they do not expire. The points can then be redeemed for various merchandise, travel options, gift cards and even cash.

Bank of America Student Platinum Plus Visa

Bank of America combines its student-oriented credit card with educational materials on budgeting, how to build a good credit score and identity theft. Cash-back offers can go as high as 20 percent with certain retailers, and Bank of America is willing to consider summertime and student jobs when looking at credit history for approval.

Capital One QuicksilverOne

The Capital One QuicksilverOne card does charge an annual fee, but it's a modest one. Cash back rewards average at 1.5 percent, but they apply to all retailers. Because its annual percentage rate runs higher than most other starter credit cards, this card is only a good choice for a cardholder who intends to pay off his balance in full every month.

Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom credit card charges no annual fee and offers a generous rewards program. It often features introductory offers that charge no interest for a period as long as 18 months. Chase also offers a graduated system of credit cards, so cardholders who develop a good credit history with the Chase Freedom card can easily move up to cards offering larger credit limits and better perks.


It can be hard to get approved for a credit card if you've never had one before. Young adults and college students, in particular, may have a difficult time getting a credit card because they're evaluated on their own income, and not that of their household. Knowing this, some banks have designed credit cards specifically for college students and other first-time applicants hoping to build a good credit history. Here are a few credit cards to check out if you're a first-time applicant or have one in your family.

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