Compare the best rewards credit cards
||Minimum Deposit Required
||Free Monthly Credit Score
|Best for no annual fee: Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
||$49, $99 or $200 (based on creditworthiness)
|Best for college students: Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
|Best for instant approval: Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card
Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
Who should get it: For people who can’t get approved for cards requiring higher credit scores, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® provides an entry to building up credit, as long as payments are made on time. Plus, you won’t have to worry about paying an annual fee.
How to use it: A refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200 is required to get approved for this card. Your credit history will be regularly reported to the three major credit bureaus, and full, on-time payments can help increase your line of credit and improve your credit score.
Why you’ll love it:
For those with the goal of building credit, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a straightforward option. If you qualify, it has one of the lowest minimum refundable security deposit requirements. Although it has a high APR and no rewards program, you’ll get access to a higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on time.
Things to consider:
- Required to make a refundable minimum security deposit of $49, $99 or $200
- High variable purchase APR of 26.99% (Variable)
- No rewards structure
Pro tip: With the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, you can choose their own monthly due date to make payments, as well as a preferred payment method — at a local branch, by check or online.
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
Who should get it: The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® card can be an effective tool for college students who want to build up a strong credit score. It’s also great for students who plan to study abroad since there’s no foreign transaction fee.
How to use it: The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® card has a unique cash back rewards structure – get 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases – with the option to earn more. If you pay off your card on time, you can earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases made in that month.
Why you’ll love it:
This card provides consistent cash back rewards to students who spend in common categories like online shopping, rideshares, restaurants and grocery stores. Students who plan to use their credit card for most of their purchases will automatically get 1% cash back.
Things to consider:
- No intro purchase APR period ($0)
- Lower rewards rate compared to other cards
- Up to a $39 penalty fee for late payments
Pro tip: The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® card offers unlimited access to your credit score and tools to help you monitor your credit with CreditWise from Capital One®.
Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card
Who should get it: The Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card is a great option for people who don’t have credit, but want instant access to a large line of credit. This card has a high credit limit, but your line of credit depends on how much you put down as a security deposit. You can put down as little as $200 or as much as $5,000 to take advantage of this card’s lower-than-average interest rate.
How to use it: You’ll want to deposit a minimum of $200 to open your secured line of credit with the Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card, which will be your credit limit. It’s important to make your payments on time because the card issuer reports your payment history to the credit bureaus, so you can build your credit.
Why you’ll love it:
The Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card has a high credit limit, allowing you to use it to fund bigger purchases and build credit over time. If you have a good amount of cash on hand, you can put down up to $5,000 as a security deposit, which becomes your total credit limit.
Things to consider:
- $49 annual fee
- Foreign transaction fee is 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.
- Late payment fee of up to $29
Pro tip: And with the low 9.99% Fixed purchase APR for the Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card, you won’t have to pay a ton in interest on your purchases.
How do you get a credit card if you have no credit?
The credit card issuers we’ve reviewed above offer a number of options for people with little or no credit history. Starting with a beginner’s card is the way to go if you want to establish yourself as a reliable borrower.
Several ways to open up your credit card options and improve your credit history”
- You’ll need employment. You must have enough income to pay your credit card balance. Credit card applications will generally ask for your annual income.
- Prequalify for a credit card. Some credit card issuers have online prequalification, allowing you to find a credit card that matches your credit profile. These pre-qualifications are soft credit checks, which won’t hurt your credit score or show up on your credit report.
- Have a student credit card. Student credit cards are for college students who may not have enough income or credit history. To qualify, provide proof of your enrollment in a qualified college or university. Some student credit cards have high-interest rates and fees.
- Access a secured credit card. Secured credit cards are perfect for people who can’t get approved for a traditional credit card. Pick one that reports to major credit bureaus with minimal fees. What distinguishes a secured credit card from an unsecured card is that a security deposit is required to establish a credit line.
- Partner with a co-signer. If you can’t get a credit card on your own, you can ask someone with a job and good credit to apply with you. Responsible use can increase your credit score.
- Become an authorized user. Becoming an authorized user means that someone who already has a credit card account can request to add you to their account, and order an additional physical credit card for your use. Once again, treat your finances responsibly for yourself and the authorized user.
How do you build a credit history with your first credit card?
There are several ways to build a credit history with your first credit card:
- Use your credit card carefully. One important rule for building a strong credit history is to spend no more than 30% of your available credit line. Be mindful of your spending.
- Pay on time. Missed or late payments are a major red flag to future lenders, not to mention they may lead to interest charges and late fees.
- Pay your balance in full. Paying your balance in full allows you to avoid piling on debt. But paying more than the minimum payment due can also save you money in interest charges over the long term.
- Know your credit score. When you borrow money, the lender looks at your credit history and credit score. The score measures how reliable you are about borrowing and paying back your money. The higher your score, the better chance you have of approval for a card, and the lower your interest rate. If your score is low or you have no established credit, you can start with a secured credit card to build your credit history.
- Check your credit report once a year. Three major credit bureaus keep track of your credit history: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can access a free report from each of them once a year to help you monitor your credit. To get your free credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 877.322.8228. Check your report to ensure there are no mistakes, which hurt your credit score.
- Monitor your account. It’s essential to keep track of your credit card purchases. You can do this easily online or via your card’s app. You can also get automatic alerts from some issuers.
- Protect yourself from fraud. If you spot suspicious activity in your account, review your bank’s privacy and security policies. You’ll find out how to receive protection in case your credit card number is stolen. Learn about protecting yourself from fraud and what to do if this happens. Never give out your credit card number over the phone unless you initiate the call, memorize your passwords/PIN numbers, keep those numbers in a secure location and check your account often to look for unusual activity.
What is a good credit score?
A credit score of 700 or above is generally good. A score of 800 or higher is excellent. Most credit scores range from 600 to 750. High scores show that you’re making appropriate credit decisions and give creditors confidence that you will pay your debts on time.
How do you quickly raise your credit score?
The higher your credit score, the lower the interest you’ll have to pay on loans, and the more you’ll be eligible for premium credit cards that offer sign up bonuses and other perks. Here’s how to do it:
- Set up automatic payments so that you’ll pay the minimum on time every month.
- Pay down debt. The lower your percentage of debt utilization is, the higher your credit score.
- Figure out which debt has the highest interest rate and work to pay that off first.
- Don’t close out cards you aren’t using. That will increase your debt utilization ratio and potentially lower your score.
- Don’t apply for new credit. Every hard inquiry lowers your FICO score.
Please Note: Information about the Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card, Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® and Capital One® Secured Mastercard® have been collected independently by TheSimpleDollar.com. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.