Money Under 30 reviews the best credit cards for young adults. Got good credit? Get our picks to upgrade your rewards card or snag a cash sign-up bonus. New to credit? Find the best first credit card to build up your credit score.

“What are the best credit cards for young adults?” is one of the most often-asked questions I get. That, or:

  • I’m a recent college graduate. What’s the best starter credit card for me?
  • What’s the best first credit card to get?
  • I’m a young professional with some credit history. I need a credit card for business travel—what should I get?

I’m happy to dive into those questions, but I also want to explain why I recommend the cards I do.

How I came up with the list of the top 10 credit cards for young adults

I’ve been covering credit and credit cards for over 10 years. When choosing the best credit cards for young adults, I look for cards that:

  1. Offer better-than-average approval odds for consumers with shorter credit histories. (This is based upon issuer-provided guidelines and Money Under 30 data from readers who click from our Website to apply for a credit card.)
  2. Reward spending in categories most popular with our readers such as dining, travel or Amazon purchases
  3. Do not charge excessive fees

Where appropriate, I selected rewards cards with programs that reward any spending level—not just someone who can charge thousands a month to their card. I also tried to stick to cards with no annual fees, although there are two exceptions.

Overview: Best credit cards for young adults

In the event you don’t have much of a credit history yet, shopping for cards can be frustrating. You find a great credit card, only to be declined. If the most rewarding credit cards are still out of reach, there are still very good credit cards designed for consumers with average or limited credit.

CardBest for:Credit Score Required
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardPremium Travel RewardsExcellent
Ink Business Cash® Credit CardEntrepreneurs
Chase Freedom Unlimited®Everyday purchases rewards
Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offerBalance transfers + cash backGood/Excellent
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit CardCash backAverage/fair/limited (600 – 699)
Capital One Platinum Credit CardNo annual fee
Chase Freedom® Student credit cardStudents
Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit CardBuilding credit while earning rewardsPoor (300 – 599)
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit CardFirst credit card—credit builder

Details: Best credit cards for young adults—good credit

The very best credit card offers look to attract new creditworthy customers with promotions like cash sign-up bonuses, 0% intro APRs and generous rewards programs.

These cards require good or excellent credit, which means you will need to:

  1. Have had open loan and credit card accounts for five years or more
  2. Have had no late payments in the last two years
  3. Have not applied for credit more than twice in the last year

If you’re a young professional with established credit, here are some of our recommended credit cards:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card sets the standard for travel rewards by offering an excellent 5x points on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x points on dining and 2x points on all other travel purchases. And points are worth 25% more when you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® – That means the killer 60,000 point sign-up bonus is worth $750 towards travel.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • A monster of an up-front bonus; 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

  • 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.

  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , 0 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A , 0 months

Apply Now >>

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is definitely one of our favorite travel rewards cards, but don’t apply unless you’re a big spender (and a big traveler).

First the good. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.

On top of that, you can get a whopping 60,000 sign up bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s a $750 travel value when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® – the highest in the business.

Here’s the kicker. There’s a $95 annual fee. You really need to be a big spender to make this card worth your while. If you want to avoid the annual fee, we recommend looking at the alternative cards here. But if you’re living large, this is the perfect card for you.

Learn more: See card details/apply or read our Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer includes one of the best everyday cash back rewards rates available for cardholders. For a limited time, earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months (regular APR of 16.24% – 26.24% Variable)

  • Earn 2% cash back on new purchases; unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

  • No annual fee

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • For a limited time, earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.
  • Balance Transfer Only Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back. Intro APR does not apply to purchases.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , 0 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers 0% intro for 18 months on Balance Transfers , 18 months

Apply Now >>

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

With the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer which has no annual, and you’ll be able to transfer your old credit card balance for a low fee and 0% APR for 18 months. Plus, while you’re paying it off, you’ll enjoy 2% cash back on all your purchases.

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is uniquely situated to help someone who’s trying to pay off old debt but doesn’t plan to take on any new debt at all.

For example, maybe you just got your first job and you’re trying to pay off old credit card debt from college. The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer will let you transfer your balance for a low balance transfer fee (greater of $5 or 3%) for the first 4 months, and then the fee is $5 or 5% for transfers after 4 months. Cardholders won’t be charged interest for 18 months (regular APR is 16.24% - 26.24% (Variable), so you’ll have plenty of time to pay it off. Just be sure you don’t take on any new debt during this time, since the card charges 16.24% - 26.24% (Variable) APR on all new purchases from the time of opening.

But one of the most unique features of the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is that you’ll earn 1% cash back when you pay at the store and 1% back when you pay off your card, equaling 2% back on all your purchases.

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Apply Now On the Chase US Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is an excellent card for any small business.  From a big up front bonus to an all-around excellent rewards program, cardholders can cash in on rewards without the worry of an annual fee.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • $750 cash back bonus after spending $7,500 in the first three months of card ownership

  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent on office supplies, internet, cable and phone service purchases each account anniversary year

  • 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.74% – 20.74%.

  • Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • No Annual Fee
  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.74% - 20.74% Variable
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months , 12 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A , 0 months

Apply Now >>

If you’re a young entrepreneur looking to maximize your rewards earnings on business expenses, the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is a great option, especially if you have significant expenses when it comes to office supplies, phone, internet, and cable.

With the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, you’ll earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary at office supply stores, and on internet, cable, and phone services.

You’ll also earn 2% back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year on gas and dining, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

With no annual fee, the card is also a good fit for borrowers on a budget who may not want to invest in a high-fee rewards card. The welcome bonus of $750 is another enticing feature – borrowers are eligible if they spend $7,500 in the first three months after opening an account.

You’ll also get additional employee cards at no additional costs, and zero liability protection, so you won’t be held liable for any unauthorized purchases.

Learn more: See card details/apply or read our Ink Business Cash® Credit Card review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

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In A Nutshell

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® opens up with a terrific intro offer; earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back! Tack on a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (standard 16.49% – 25.24% variable APR) add to that a strong everyday rewards program and it’s a terrific option for anyone looking to save a ton of money on everyday purchases.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; then a variable APR of 16.49% – 25.24%.

  • Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49% - 25.24%.
  • No annual fee – You won’t have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health, Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more.
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months , 15 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months , 15 months

Apply Now >>

With Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you get an intro offer of an additional 1.5% cash back on purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back! You’ll also get 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months. But the real benefits are in the rewards.

Chase welcomes you with plenty of thank-you gifts with the signup bonus If you travel, you’ll enjoy another 5% cash back if you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. 

You’ll also earn 3% cash back on drugstore purchases. Dining out? You can earn 3% cash back for that, as well, including takeout and eligible delivery services. For all other purchases, you’ll earn a still generous 1.5% cash back.

Also, if you own a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, you can transfer your points to that card for additional savings. Just spend your points in the Chase Travel Center to increase your cash back to as much as 7.5% on your travel purchases through Chase.

There’s also no annual fee for the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, so as long as you pay your balance off each month, you can sit back and enjoy fee-free cash back for many years to come.

Learn more: See card details/apply or read our Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.

Details: Best credit cards for young adults—average/limited credit

Average credit usually means that you have:

  1. Had open loan and credit card accounts for three years or more
  2. Had no more than one late payment in the last year
  3. Not applied for credit more than twice in the last six months.

If you have some credit history or average credit due to a few missed payments, here are some cards to consider:

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

If you don’t have the excellent credit needed to score some of the bonuses other Capital One credit cards offer, consider the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. It’s a terrific card for average credit and you can still earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases with a modest $39 annual fee.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months.

  • No foreign transaction fees and a modest $39 annual fee.

Apply Now >>

If you are starting to build credit, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card provides a good chance of approval with a modest annual fee (waived the first year) and a generous 1.5% cash back.

With the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no rotating categories or hoops to jump through.

This card does feature a higher APR than others on this page, but is ideal if you’re going to pay your balance in full each month to avoid finance charges.

Learn more: See card details/where to apply or Compare the Quicksilver vs QuicksilverOne in this review.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

Finding an unsecured credit card with average credit can be difficult, but the Capital One Platinum Credit Card is happy to have your business. You won’t find many perks to owning this credit card, but it’s a great first card for young people looking to build a strong credit history and there’s no annual fee.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • Only average / fair / limited credit is required for approval

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months

  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees

Apply Now >>

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is a great basic credit card with no annual fee for applicants with average or limited credit.

If you have a little bit of credit history (or a fair one that you want to improve), the Capital One Platinum Credit Card is an ideal starter credit card. You won’t earn rewards with this card, but there’s no annual fee to worry about, either.

One of the great things about Capital One is that they offer cards like this and great prime rewards cards. So if you start with a Platinum card and use it responsibly for a while, you may be able to upgrade your account.

Learn more: See card details/apply or read our Capital One Platinum Credit Card review

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card is a great no-annual-fee card with a solid rewards system for people with limited or no credit. It reports to all three major credit card bureaus and you can score a higher credit limit between $300- $5,000 — just make sure to use your card responsibly.  The Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card is issued by WebBank, Member FDIC.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • No credit history required, making it perfect for beginners.

  • No annual fee, and no over-limit or foreign transaction fees, either.

  • 2% – 10% cash back at select merchants.

  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Variable APRs range from 22.24% - 31.74%
  • $300 - $5,000 credit limits
  • Earn a credit limit increase in as little as 6 months. Terms and conditions apply.
  • No credit score? No problem. If eligible, we'll create your Cash Score instead.
  • 2% - 10% cash back at select merchants
  • See if you're pre-approved within minutes without impacting your credit score.
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees.
  • Build credit alongside hundreds of thousands of Petal card members.
  • Petal's mobile app makes it easy to manage your money, track your spending, and automate payments.
  • Petal reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • No deposits required
  • Card issued by WebBank, Member FDIC
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
22.24% - 31.74% Variable
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A ,
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A ,

Apply Now >>

If you’re still building your credit history and want to earn rewards to get the purchasing power you need, the Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card is a great cash back card with no fees. 

You won’t pay an annual fee, and even international transactions are fee-free. For someone just starting out, every dollar saved is a dollar earned. 

And while you’re building your credits, why not also be able to earn rewards! You can earn cash back between 2%-10% back on spending at specific merchants. All you have to do is check the app to find offers near you and your cash back will then be issued as a statement credit or can be sent to you via check or ACH if over $20.

The Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card has an APR of 22.24% - 31.74% Variable, and you’ll be issued a credit limit between $500 and $5,000. This is not negotiable, but once you’ve built your credit score, you can parlay it into a higher limit with another card.

Learn more: See card details/apply.

Chase Freedom® Student credit card

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In A Nutshell

The Chase Freedom® Student credit card can help students begin to build a strong credit profile while earning a $50 Bonus for signing up and making one purchase during the first three months.  There’s no annual fee to own.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • $50 Bonus after making your first purchase within three months from account opening

  • Keep your account in good standing and receive a $20 award each account anniversary for up to five years

  • No annual fee

  • $50 Bonus after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases
  • No annual fee
  • $20 Good Standing Rewards after each account anniversary for up to 5 years
  • Earn a credit limit increase after making 5 monthly payments on time within 10 months from account opening when meeting credit criteria
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
  • Free credit score with Chase Credit Journey
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
16.49% Variable
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , 0 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A , 0 months

Apply Now >>

One of my top cash back credit card picks for young adults is the Chase Freedom® Student credit card. It’s is a great card to boost your credit score while enjoying some cash back benefits at the same time. You’ll get 1% cash back on every dollar you spend, along with bonuses and occasional promotional offers that will earn you even more.

With the Chase Freedom® Student credit card, you’ll enjoy an interest rate of 16.49% Variable. This interest rate doesn’t expire after an introductory period, so you’ll continue to get the relatively low APR for the life of the card. 

To sweeten the deal, Chase is offering a $50 bonus on the first purchase you make within the first three months of opening your account. That means you’ll get 5,000 points that you can redeem as cash back, just for spending any amount! 

Although the APR is a little higher than some others, the rewards are well worth it, especially if you make regular purchases. Best of all, you’ll be building credit while you earn cash back.

Learn more: See card details/apply or read our complete review of Chase Freedom® Student credit card.

Details: Best first credit cards—no security deposit

If you’ve never had a credit card or loan before, a secured credit card offers your best chance of approval.

If you have no credit or very limited credit, you’ll need to read up on building credit for the first time. In some cases you’ll need to get a special type of product called a secured credit card that works like a debit card (with money you deposit in a bank account) but helps you build credit.

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

If you are worried that you will not get approved for a conventional credit card or have been rejected in the past, the Capital One Platinum Secured is an excellent option. It’s rare to find one that doesn’t charge an annual fee and Capital One will automatically review your credit limit in as little as six months.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line.

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months with no additional deposit needed.

  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

Apply Now >>

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card has no annual fee and immediately allows you to begin building credit with responsible use.

A secured credit card works like a prepaid debit card—you must first make a deposit. Unlike a prepaid card, however, a secured credit card builds credit (because you make payments, rather than spend your deposit) when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the three major credit bureaus.

With the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, you will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200. Then get access to a higher credit line in as little as six months after credit line review.

Learn more: See card details/where to apply or read our Capital One Platinum Secured card review.

Summary of the best credit cards for young adults

Credit cardRewardsUnique features
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases. Your points are worth 25% more when you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer1% cash back when you buy plus 1% as you payYou can transfer a balance with a 0% APR for 18 months. The ongoing APR is 16.24% - 26.24% (Variable).
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores, and on internet, cable, and phone services

2% back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases on gas and dining

Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
A welcome bonus of $750 after you spend $7,500 in the first three months after opening an account
Chase Freedom Unlimited®5% on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchasesIntro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card1.5% cash back on all purchasesAccess to a higher line of credit if you make your first six payments on-time
Capital One Platinum Credit CardNoneNo annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Chase Freedom® Student credit card1% cash back on all purchases$50 bonus on first purchase made within three months of card ownership
Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card2%-10% cash back on select merchantsNo annual fee or foreign transaction fees; Free in-app financial management tool
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit CardNone Access to a higher line of credit if you make your first six payments on-time

Frequently asked questions

Can I get a credit card if I’m under 21?

Good question. In 2009, the U.S. CARD Act created new laws designed to prevent some abusive practices in the credit card industry. Among these is a law that regulates companies issuing credit cards to minors. Today, you must be at least 18 years old to get a credit card.

Applicants under 21 need to prove their financial independence via either income or assets—in other words, your ability to repay the debt. In many cases, even a small part-time job may be enough to qualify you for a credit card with a modest credit limit.

If you’re under 21 and do not have enough independent income, you’ll need a cosigner to apply for a credit card.

In either case, remember that you will have the financial responsibility to pay your credit card every month. If you can’t afford it, don’t apply!

How do I get a credit card if I have no credit history?

Regardless of your age or student status, if you don’t have any credit history yet (for example, you’ve never had a student loan, car loan, or credit card), you may have a hard time getting approved for any traditional credit card.

Secured credit cards are an exception to this rule, and they’re the best way to build credit for the very first time.

At first, a secured card works more like a debit card; you deposit money into a bank account before you can use the card.

The difference, however, is that the secured credit card will report your responsible use of the card to credit bureaus and help you build credit in a way that debit and prepaid cards do not.

Learn more about ways to build credit for the first time or check your credit report to see if you’ve begun building credit yet.

Do you have any tips for using a credit card for the first time?

Credit cards can offer a ton of unique benefits, including fancy rewards, travel benefits, cash back, and more. But don’t forget, the main reason to start using credit cards is to build your credit score.

Applying for a credit card (and being approved for it) is just the start of the process. Now you have to use that credit card responsibly, which means:

  • Use the card – Your credit score will tick up as you borrow money from the issuer (using your credit card) and then pay them back. If you don’t use the card, that can’t happen.
  • Pay off your balance in full – Many of the credit cards on this list have a high APR, especially available for people with poor credit. That means that if you don’t pay off your balance in full, you’ll be stuck with high-interest payments on the remainder of your balance. Don’t get sucked in with the allure of minimum payments. Pay in full each month.
  • Pay off your balance on time – You might think it’s not a big deal to be late with a payment by a day or two. But it is a big deal. If you use this credit card and don’t pay your balance on time, your credit score will fall.

Remember, credit cards can be a source of tremendous value – if you use them correctly.

Summary

If you’re under 35, the best credit card for you is the card you can get approved for that offers benefits that will save you—not cost you—money.

If you don’t feel like playing with spreadsheets for hours to determine the best personal rewards rate you can find, just pick a rewards credit card that sounds good to you and be done with it. Do not, however, blindly choose a rewards card only to carry a balance every now and then! If you want a credit card with which to pay off purchases over time, focus on the card’s APR, not the rewards.

Finding a credit card for which you will be approved will be more difficult if you have limited or damaged credit, but there are options. If you don’t get approved the first time, wait six months, focus on paying all of your bills on time, and try again.

Want to improve your chances of getting approved for a credit card? Finding the right credit card for you is much simpler if you know your credit score, and can narrow your search to only the cards you know you’ll get approved for. We’ve made it easy for you. If you don’t already know your score, use our quick and free Credit Score Estimator tool – then find the perfect card for you!

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About the author

David Weliver
Total Articles: 303
David Weliver is the founder of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues he faced during his first two decades as an adult. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.