We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our goal is to help you make smarter financial decisions by providing you with interactive tools and financial calculators, publishing original and objective content, by enabling you to conduct research and compare information for free – so that you can make financial decisions with confidence. The offers that appear on this site are from companies from which TheSimpleDollar.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site including, for example, the order in which they appear. The Simple Dollar does not include all card/financial services companies or all card/financial services offers available in the marketplace. The Simple Dollar has partnerships with issuers including, but not limited to, Capital One, Chase & Discover. View our full advertiser disclosure to learn more.
Best First Credit Card for 2021
Now is a great time to be shopping for your first credit card. The best starter credit card is the one offering some benefits, has low fees, and allows you to access your account and make payments online. If you use it responsibly, paying the balance in full and on time each month, your best first credit card can be a gateway to bigger rewards and sign up bonuses.
Ready to start looking? We’ve narrowed down the field to four proven winners.
Best First Credit Cards of 2021
- Discover it® Student Cash Back — Best for students
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express — Best for bonus cash back
- Discover it® Secured — Best for rewards
- Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card — Best for average credit
Discover it® Student Cash Back — Best for students
Who should get it: The Discover it® Student Cash Back is an ideal card for college students looking to start their credit journey. College students don’t need a credit score to be approved for this starter credit card.
How to use it: You have to remember to activate the rotating categories each quarter to get 5% cash back.
Why you’ll love it: Get 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Discover it® Student Cash Back will also match all your cash back earnings in the first year, automatically.
Things to consider:
- Discover cards aren’t accepted by as many merchants as other credit cards.
- You can’t have a parent co-sign on your account.
Pro tip: The Good Grade reward gives students $20 a year your GPA is 3.0 or higher and is valid for up to five years.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express — Best for bonus cash back
Who should get it
If you have verified income and identification, you can be approved for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express with no credit history. It’s great for recent graduates entering the job market.
How to use it
You’ll receive 3% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases, up to $6,000 a year and then 1%, and 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. Every other purchase gives you 1% unlimited cash back.
Things to consider
- There’s a 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars. foreign transaction fee ( See Rates & Fees ).
- American Express is not as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard.
- The APR rate can be high, which makes it an expensive card to own if you carry a balance.
Why you’ll love it
For a no annual fee card ( See Rates & Fees ), Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is loaded with perks. Earn 20% back on purchases at Amazon.com on the Card in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
Discover it® Secured — Best for rewards
Who should get it: If you can’t qualify for a student card, Discover it® Secured is one of the best secured credit cards on the market today. It offers 2% cash back on gas stations and restaurants (capped at $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter) and an unlimited 1% on every other purchase.
How to use it: Discover it® Secured is a secured credit card, meaning you make a refundable deposit in the same amount as your initial credit line. You can deposit as little as $200 to open the card, but with a credit line this small, you’ll need to be diligent about making payments.
Why you’ll love it: Discover it® Secured matches all your cash back awards at the end of your first year automatically, which is a nice bonus. Plus, you’ll be able to view your FICO score for free each month, and if you use the card wisely, you may qualify for an unsecured Discover card in time.
Things to consider:
- You have to make a refundable deposit in the same amount as your initial credit line.
- Your credit line is limited to the amount of cash you deposit.
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card — Best for average credit
Who should get it: Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great card for people who don’t have excellent credit. It offers unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase.
How to use it: Because the cash back reward rate applies to all purchases, you don’t need to activate categories or remember to use this card to buy groceries in April, not October.
Why you’ll love it: Unlike credit cards for people with bad credit, this card lets you earn solid cash back rewards. It offers travel accident insurance and doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, making it the perfect card to take with you on your travels.
Things to consider:
- It’s got a very high standard variable APR rate
- There is no introductory 0% APR rate for either purchases or balance transfers.
Pro tip: Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card lets you pay for Amazon.com purchases using your cash back rewards.
Please Note: Information about the Discover it® Secured, Discover it® Student Cash Back, Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express and Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card have been collected independently by TheSimpleDollar.com. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
For rates and fees of Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here .
Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view our disclosures, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser’s page for terms & conditions.