The Best Credit Cards for Teens, Students, and Young Adults

The best starter cards in these categories enable you to establish credit without having to pay dearly in fees or to give up all of your rewards benefits. Here we look at four of the top recommended cards in this category from Credit Karma.

Best Rewards Program for College Students

Journey Student Rewards by Capital One offers the best rewards program for college students. You get cash back for every purchase. They also give you additional advantages when you engage in good credit behaviour. With no annual fee, the company makes money on the back end. If you carry a balance, it will cost you a dear 26.99 percent APR in interest.

Pay your full balance each month and you can avoid this entirely. 

Best Secured Credit Card for Students and Teens

For the best secured card for teens and students, Credit Karma suggests the Discover It Secured Credit Card. Besides no annual fee, you get a rewards program and the opportunity to retrieve your deposit after eight months of timely payment history. They also provide you with an impressive two percent in cash back on purchases at restaurants and gas stations on your first $1,000 in combined category purchases for every quarter (and one percent thereafter).

Discover goes all in by matching your first year’s cash back as well. 

Best Rewards Card for Good Credit Graduates

Chase Freedom hits a home run with this best rewards card for those college grads with good credit. They offer a generous sign up bonus and the chance to learn the best ways to optimize your rewards programs. You start with a $150 bonus after spending only $500 on purchases in the first three months of the account. 

Best Card for Limited Credit College Grads

Capital One offers its QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card as a way for college grads with limited credit to improve their credit scores to the from good to excellent range. You earn terrific rewards as you use this card too. Established for people who only possess average credit, it works great if your credit history is limited and assuming that you have no recent account defaults. 

It is no small thing to find a fair credit score card that provides a fantastic rewards program. QuicksilverOne gives you solid 1.5 percent cash back for each purchase you charge. They also promise a review for a credit line increase after making timely payments in your first five months. 

Best International Student Credit Card

The vast majority of credit card issuers in America require that you possess a Social Security number in order to apply for their card. The Deserve Edu Mastercard is a notable exception for international students. The card comes with nice reward perks too. Approved applicants get as much as $59 in Amazon Prime Student subscription reimbursements.

You can also count on their full one percent cash back on every purchase you charge with this credit card.

What Are The Best Credit Cards for Starters?

As a first time credit card user, the deck is stacked against you. These cards help you to overcome these sometimes seemingly insurmountable odds and establish a credit history.

Such cards maintain minimal (if any) credit requirements and allow you to routinely access your credit score for free. They also deliver low costs and APR as well as rewards programs. Unlike most credit cards out there, these do not expect a credit history for you to qualify. 

Best All Around Starter Card

Wells Fargo Cash Back College is the best all around credit card starter. It is oriented to students, but lets anyone without a credit history enjoy the exciting features of credit, like no annual fees, a zero percent intro APR on balance transfers and initial purchases, and a rewards program as well. 

Best Secured Card for Starters

Discover It Secured is the best secured card for starters. With this card, you will be expected to make a deposit against your credit card limit. As a first time secured card goes, it provides you with a good rewards program and a low deposit amount. After you have successfully made eight months of timely payments to the account, Discover will contemplate returning your deposit back to you.

This could be your best way to go for a first time credit card.

Best No Major Fees Starter Card

Petal Credit Card is famous for not charging any significant fees of any kind. You do not encounter any foreign currency transaction fees, late payment fees, or even annual fees with Petal. This is the card for you who want to build up your credit while spending nothing for the privilege. 

Best Low APR Credit Card for Starters

SKYPASS Visa Secured Card is your best bet for a low APR card for starters. It is the only secured credit card that permits you to earn miles for airlines, and it also comes with a comparatively lower APR for starters. It may seem to you that 17.99 percent interest is not so low, but this is actually competitive compared to most starter credit cards today.

Make sure to pay off your monthly balances each month, and you will avoid these costly fees.

How To Manage A Balance Transfer on Credit Cards?

First you gather up your highest interest rate credit card balances. Get the statements so that you have all of the information necessary to transfer them to your new zero percent balance transfer offer. Next you will need to have your balance transfer offer ready to hand.

They may have you send out checks included in the offer to your existing creditors to transfer the balances. More and more these days it is all handled online by logging on to the offering card’s site and filling in the appropriate information to transfer the balances over electronically. 

It is important to keep in mind the end of your promotional period on this zero percent interest rate transfer. You want to pay it off before it defaults back to the higher interest rate. 

You can take the number of months in the promotional period and divide this into the total amount of debt you have transferred to come up with your required monthly payment to liquidate all of the transferred debt in time. 

For example, if you are transferring $3,000 to a zero percent balance transfer offer that is good for 24 months, you would divide the $3k by 24 to come up with a necessary monthly payment amount of $125. By making this payment faithfully every month, you would have repaid the entire transferred balances amount in time to avoid any interest charges for carrying the debt. 

What Are The Nine Different Types of Credit Cards?

As with most things in life, there is no such a thing as a one size fits all credit card. Credit cards were designed with many different individuals in mind. Here are nine different types of credit cards, some of which will fit your situation better than others do.

Unsecured Credit Cards

These are the most typical kinds of credit cards today. They are generally intended for individuals who have a range of from fair to excellent credit

Secured Credit Cards

These cards usually make you pay a security deposit in cash. It usually equates to all or half of the credit card limit. These cards are intended for those individuals who either lack credit or need to work on rebuilding their credit

Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Such cards allow you to transfer credit card balances from other credit cards to the new one in an effort to save on interest costs. Usually such new cards come with an introductory rate of 0 percent APR for a certain amount of time

Travel Rewards Credit Cards

This type of card gives you either points or miles which you can later redeem for purchases related to travel like hotels and airfares

Cash Back Rewards Credit Cards

Such credit cards give you a pre-set percentage in cash back on all eligible purchases

Gas Rewards Credit Cards

This card type rewards you with cash back when you use it at gas station pumps

Zero Percent Intro APR Credit Card

Such cards permit you an extended interest free grace period for upfront balance transfers and purchases 

Student Credit Cards

Intended to be starter credit cards that can help you to establish or rebuild your credit, they usually start with smaller credit lines

Retail Cards

A card that is valid at one set retailer, it provides you with point rewards for goods or services that you purchase at that retailer

With all of these credit cards, it is critical that you discipline yourself and remember that credit is not a cash substitute. Anything that you charge you need to be able to repay. Otherwise you will fall into a seemingly never ending debt trap.

Remember that some debts are better than others too. Debts that you have the money already in the bank to pay off are good ones that help you to build your credit by paying them on time. Debts for which you can not afford the purchase you are making are bad ones.

Factors You Need To Consider When Choosing A Credit Card

It goes without saying that not all credit cards are created equally. You should only consider the best ones for your personal situation. Here are five factors to think about when you are looking for your first (or next) credit card.

Cost of Having the Card

Credit cards always come with fees, detailed in the fine print. The fee you need to be on the lookout for first is the annual fee for having the card. There is a trade off for cards that charge such a fee. They often provide a stronger rewards program which can offset the annual fee. Some cards will waive the first year’s fee as a courtesy to new members. 

Consider getting a card that does not charge a yearly fee. There are plenty of these from which you can pick. 

Also watch out for foreign transaction fees, in particular if you travel a great deal. Credit card companies often assess a three percent fee for every dollar you spend in another currency. Once again, there are countless credit cards that do not charge such a fee, so think about whether or not this is important in your life. 

APR or Annual Percentage Rate of the Card

This becomes important if you choose to carry a balance and not pay down the entire amount due by the monthly due date. In this case, interest will build on your carried balance. The credit card shows this APR as your interest rate, or what you will pay for the amount you carry. 

Something to look out for is a low introductory APR. 

These provide you with a pre-set period of lower interest rates (sometimes this is 0 percent). Some cards will also give you a balance transfer lower APR for moving a balance over from another card. This is a smart way to lower the total interest you will pay altogether if you are paying down a significant amount of credit card debt. 

The key is that you always make the minimum payment due on time, otherwise the APR will typically reset to the much higher default rate. This is the highest interest rate possible to pay on this card. 

It is recommended that you pay down the whole balance transfer before the expiration of the introductory period so that you do not pay substantially higher interest rates on the remainder of the balance. 

Another thing to watch for is the grace period on your card. This is the days in between when you charge something and when the interest starts to be assessed. You should not settle for a card without a grace period. These typically last 20 to 25 days on most cards. 

Go for as long a grace period as you can when selecting a credit card. 

Rewards Programs

Among the greatest features of a good credit card is its (sometimes incredible) rewards program. For daily purchases you make, you earn points that you can use towards retail purchases, travel and trips, cash back, and other rewards. Obtaining the greatest amount of points requires that you select a credit card that rewards you most generously where you spend the most money, such as grocery stores, gas stations, online retailers, and specialty shops. 

The key is not to overspend what you intend so that your rewards program does not end up costing you dearly.

Credit Limit

You want a card that offers a high enough credit limit to have sufficient flexibility without being tempted to get into a runaway debt situation that you can not manage. College students are best suited with lower limit choices as they learn to responsibly use credit. After college, it helps to have a larger limit sufficient for your bigger monthly expenses. 

A higher limit is also good in keeping your credit utilization ratio down. 

This makes up 30 percent of your credit score, with the algorithms looking for less than 30 percent total utilization on each card and for your monthly average of all cards. 

Customer Service

You should anticipate having to speak with your credit card company customer service department several times per year. This could be as simple as understanding some charges you made or as desperate as dealing with fraud on your card. 

You need to talk with someone who is helpful, understanding, and competent to address your problems fast. If you notice the prospective credit cards have difficult to navigate web pages or keep you on hold on the phone for a long time when you call them, then you should be warned to expect more of the same once you are an existing customer. 

You do not need to settle for poor customer service where your finances are concerned.