How To Get Your First Credit Card: 5 Good First Credit Cards

Shawn Manaher
Shawn Manaher
Updated on November 16, 2022
how to get first credit card

Experts estimate that as many as 75 percent of the world’s consumers have a credit card, but they weren’t born with it. When it comes to credit cards, everybody starts somewhere. However, with so many options available, getting your first credit card can seem stressful. Thankfully, getting your first credit card may be far less challenging than you might think.

Getting your first credit card can be as simple as filling out a form for your preferred bank. You must know and provide your necessary information, such as your birthday, home address, and social security number. Otherwise, the most challenging part is choosing the card that works best for you.

  • If you have no credit, the Platinum Mastercard from Capital One may be your best option.
  • If you have poor credit, consider the Platinum Secured from Capital One.
  • If you have good credit, consider the Double Cash card from Citi.
  • If you are a student, consider the Student Cash Back Card from Discover It.
  • If you like to travel, consider the Freedom Unlimited card from Chase.

Getting your first credit card doesn’t have to be scary. When you use the right resources, you can easily unlock one of the greatest financial benefits of your life. If you are interested in getting your first credit card, read on! This article will cover everything that you need to know.

Know The Process: Getting Your First Credit Card

It would be fantastic if everything were easy. Unfortunately, you cannot simply walk into your bank and request a credit card. If it were that easy, everybody would have a credit card, and banks could not make money.

However, getting a credit card is still easier than you might expect. 

Getting a credit card is like riding a bike. Once you get your first credit card, you will know how to apply for any other credit card you require in your life. Thankfully, you won’t fall off your credit card, so applying for a card may be easier than riding a bike!

There are two processes you must follow when getting your first credit card. The first is choosing your first credit card, and the second is applying for and receiving your first credit card- also known as “getting” your first card.

Here, we will walk you through these processes so that you can easily apply for your first credit card when the time comes. However, individual processes may vary between banks and other financial institutions. 

Because of these differences, you should always confer with your chosen moneylender to discern the steps you must follow, their requirements, and even where you may need to go.

Read on to learn this vital information and get one step closer to your new credit card.

How To Choose A Credit Card For The First Time

Not all credit cards are equal. Each credit card has its unique upsides and downsides, fees, and benefits, but money lenders will offer different cards for different people.

The first step in choosing a credit card for the first time is to identify your needs, your information, and what you are looking for in a credit card. You can consider this step to be the planning phase.

For example, consider how high of a credit line you want or need from your credit card. You should also factor in how high your credit score is, and what kind of benefits you want from your credit card. These benefits can range from a cash-back program to travel miles.

To make it simple, ask yourself the following questions to form a checklist:

  • What is my credit score?
  • What do I want my credit line ceiling to be?
  • What fees can I afford?
  • What benefits matter to me?

When you consider these questions in our suggested order, you rank them by priority. When you answer these questions, you can find a card that best meets your requirements.

Certain financial websites may offer comparison tools, but it is vital to know that these websites may not be balanced or present all the facts. Because of this bias, there are many cases where you must do your research. 

Keep an eye out for facts from verified resources, such as the websites of each moneylender or the terms of their respective cards.

Later in this article, you will see five cards that are ideal first-time credit cards with information sourced directly from their provider’s sites. This list will provide an excellent springboard for your journey.

How To Get A Credit Card For The First Time

Once you have decided on a credit card and verified that you meet its requirements, the next steps to acquire it are remarkably simple. 

The minutiae of the process will vary between providers and individual credit cards, but as a whole, it is a similar procedure.

First, you must apply for your credit card. The method of application is, perhaps, the most varied part of this procedure. In modern times, many lenders will allow or even encourage filling out a form online, whether via your preferred browser or the provider’s phone application.

On the other hand, you may prefer to fill out a physical form. In this case, you may have to take a trip to your bank and request a sheet to fill out. 

You should call ahead to verify that this is an option, however. In the modern era, many banks have fully embraced digitization and may either dissuade or entirely disallow filling out physical forms.

In certain cases, you may receive notice that a lender has ‘pre-approved’ you for a credit card. This pre-approval means that a lender has verified that you meet their criteria and are inviting you to apply for their credit card program.

With pre-approval, you may have an expedited application process, but this experience varies between lenders.

Once you have sent out your application, the only thing you can do is wait. If you apply online, larger lenders may approve you automatically. In this case, all you must do is wait for your card to arrive.

Otherwise, especially for smaller lenders or physical forms, you may wait 3-4 weeks for approval and your card. Ultimately, if you are filling out a physical form, it must not be urgent; allow yourself some time for the process to work itself out.

5 Good First Credit Cards

Choosing your first credit card can be the most challenging part of the process. After all, there are so many options. 

While you’re welcome to have as many credit cards as your finances and credit score allow, it’s best to start with only one. However, that doesn’t make your options easier. With everything available to you, your options can be overwhelming.

This stress is why we have five of the best credit cards for starters available here. At a glance, our best first-time credit cards are as follows:

  • The Platinum Mastercard
  • The Platinum Secured
  • The Citi Double Cash
  • The Discover It Student Cash Back Card
  • The Chase Freedom Unlimited

Any of these cards will make an excellent option as a first credit card. 

However, each option is catered to different circumstances and a unique lifestyle which means you should not pick one at random. One of these credit cards will be a better option for you than the others.

We will break down these credit cards for you.

Best Credit Card For People With No Credit

Sometimes, you don’t have a notably high or low credit score. It’s relatively common that if you don’t have a credit card, you have no credit. Your credit score is not zero; it simply does not exist.

Many people, such as some high schoolers or young adults, do not have a credit score. Unfortunately, most credit cards require a credit score and some measure of credit history for the provider to even remotely consider the applicant. 

However, many money lenders recognize that a credit card is an exceptional way to gain a credit history, and people without a credit score may want to utilize one to get a foothold in the world of credit.

For this reason, larger moneylenders provide limited credit cards for people with no credit score. This situation is the case with Capital One, and in our opinion, the Platinum Mastercard from Capital One may be the best credit card for people with no credit history.

The Platinum Mastercard does not feature the bells and whistles of more advanced credit cards, but it is a simple and stalwart credit card that serves its purpose exceptionally.

With no annual fees and no foreign transaction fees, the Platinum Mastercard is an exceptional option for people with no credit history and a fiscally-conscious mind. However, a significant downside is that the Platinum Mastercard features a high standard interest rate.

The lack of fees and relatively expensive interest rates may balance each other out, but Capital One offers one other feature that makes the Platinum Mastercard an excellent option.

Capital One will automatically re-evaluate your credit score and credit history every six months. If you meet their criteria, they may offer to extend your limits and grant you a higher line of credit.

With an automatically-increasing credit line for responsible card holders, the Platinum Mastercard is an excellent way to build a credit score and grow with it.

Best Credit Card For People With Poor Credit

If you have a credit score, it may not be a good one. Some people have poor credit scores, and that’s alright! These low scores are a natural part of the credit world.

However, people with poor credit may find themselves locked out of several financial aspects of the world. People with low credit scores may not be able to take out a loan, finance a car, or rent a home.

If you have a low credit score, you may need to put in some work to raise it back up to an acceptable level. 

Thankfully, many money lenders recognize that people with poor credit need access to money, too, and offer credit cards with heavy restrictions for these people.

In this case, Capital One strikes again. Of all the credit cards designed for people with poor credit, the Platinum Secured from Capital One is an exceptional choice.

Universally, all credit cards for people with poor credit will have a higher standard interest rate than average credit cards. The Platinum Secured is no exception. 

Additionally, the Platinum Secured card requires an initial security deposit before you can use it. This deposit must be either $49, $99, or $200 and may determine the amount of your credit limit.

However, despite these downsides, the Platinum Secured card has plenty of excellent features that make it a top choice.

Much like the Platinum Mastercard, the Platinum Secured card features automatic re-evaluation every six months. In the same vein, the Platinum Secured card lacks both annual and foreign transaction fees.

While Capital One does require a deposit for this card, the deposit is ultimately refundable. Once you have built your credit to the point that you can get a better card, you can receive your initial deposit back.

Additionally, as a Capital One holder, you will enjoy many of the benefits that the sizable moneylender offers to its clients as a whole. 

Best Credit Card For People With Excellent Credit

On the other hand, you may have an excellent credit score without ever having touched a credit card. This scenario is possible if you have built credit in other ways, such as having a co-signer on payments for your first car as a teenager.

If you are coming into the world of credit cards with an existing and excellent credit score, then you have a wide variety of options. 

However, as a starter card, the Citi Double Cash is an excellent option for people who don’t want to be overwhelmed with features.

The Citi Double Cash requires a high credit score and an established credit history and features a 3% foreign transaction fee.

On the other hand, you will earn two times cash back on all purchases you make via the card. This cashback is easy to redeem, as you can apply it to your statement or deposit it directly into your account.

Best Credit Card For Students

No matter what your credit score or credit history is, your education may take priority. 

If you are a college student looking to get your first credit card, whether it’s for some more financial freedom away from home or to cover gas costs, look no further than the Discover It Student Cash Back Card.

With no annual fees and excellent customer service, Discover is ready to help you navigate your college education with ease by minimizing potential financial roadblocks.

Discover is not commonly accepted in some countries, meaning online purchases may be challenging. However, if you use the card around campus and your city, this shouldn’t be an issue.

With 5% cash back on purchases from select merchants and 1% cash back on all others, Discover can help you get some extra cash to help cover your regular costs.

Best Credit Card For People Who Like To Travel

Everybody needs to take a vacation now and then. If you’re the type of person who likes to take long trips out of state, or even out of the country, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is an excellent option.

Coming from the largest bank in the United States, Freedom Unlimited features travel-based benefits such as trip cancellation or interruption coverage for up to $6,000 or rental car collision coverage.

With 1.5% cash back on all purchases, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 5% on travel expenses booked through a Chase rewards program, Freedom Unlimited is a perfect way to save money while traveling.

On the other hand, there is a 3% foreign transaction fee- but your cash-back benefits may quickly counteract or overcome these fees.

What Is A Good First Credit Card?

There is no singular best credit card for beginners. Ultimately, any card that advertises itself as ‘for beginners’ is likely an excellent option for somebody who has not had a credit card before.

Everybody’s financial needs are different, and as such, the best credit card for them may not be the same as the best credit card for their friends and family.

With all of this in mind, our five credit cards may provide the best option available for you. 

With so many options narrowed down to five diverse options, it will be easy to find the best card for you!

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author.

He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.

He loves to share his personal finance tips and money management wisdom with others to help them find financial freedom.
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