First Credit Card
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When you’re ready to get your first credit card, it can be a challenge to know which card to pick. The best first credit card for you will depend on a combination of factors including whether you are just starting your credit journey, already have some credit history and other attributes like your willingness to pay an annual fee and your employment status.

Regardless of which category you’re in your goal should be the same: Find the best first credit card for your unique needs and financial standing that will help you establish good credit card habits from the start.

Even if you don’t have a credit card, you may have some credit history. Being an authorized user on someone else’s card, having a bank account, a mobile phone account or a streaming service in your name can all potentially contribute towards your overall credit score. An auto loan or a student loan will also contribute towards building up a history of responsible payment behavior.

Forbes Advisor has curated a list of cards that offer the best combination of features to suit just about anyone seeking their first credit card, whether you’re new to credit or have some established credit.

The Best First Credit Cards

Best First Credit Cards To Build Credit

Best Overall For Prequalification

Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card

Welcome Bonus

N/A

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

19.99% – 29.49% (Variable)

Credit Score

Fair/Bad

Why We Picked It

For those whose credit score is less than perfect, the Petal® 1 Visa® Credit Card may be able to help you build a stronger credit profile. It’s one of a tiny batch of credit cards aimed at those without great credit that don’t require an upfront security deposit.

Pros & Cons
  • No security deposit required
  • No annual fee
  • Limited rewards program
  • Rewards only available at select merchants
  • No balance transfer option available
Card Details
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • $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
  • Variable APRs range from 19.99% – 29.49%
  • 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
Credit Score ranges are based on FICO® credit scoring. This is just one scoring method and a credit card issuer may use another method when considering your application. These are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed.

Best for Students Without Any Credit History

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

Why We Picked It

For international students or students without a credit history, the Deserve EDU Mastercard is a compelling option with no annual fee and a flat 1% cash back reward. However, for those with a solid credit history, better student cards are out there.

Pros & Cons
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Useful benefits like cell phone protection
  • Doesn’t require a social security number to apply, allowing international students to qualify
  • Cash back rewards don’t exceed 1%
  • High variable APR
Card Details
  • Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student on Deserve after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles with your EDU card (Lifetime Value of $59).
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you’ll automatically start earning cash back on all purchases.
  • Feel secure with cell phone protection up to $600.
  • No deposit required. No annual fees.
  • No international transaction fees on purchases abroad so you can travel with confidence.
  • No Social Security Number required for international students to apply.
  • Refer A Friend Program: Refer anyone to Deserve using your personal referral code. Upon approval, card activation and use, you’ll receive $30 and so will your referral. Referral bonuses are unlimited!
  • Manage and track your spending, set automatic payments and securely freeze your card all through one easy to use app.
  • See if you prequalify with no impact to your credit score in minutes.
  • Deserve Mastercards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC.
  • Enjoy Mastercard Platinum Benefits intended to make your life easier like Mastercard ID Theft Prevention™ and Master Rental®.
Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student on Deserve after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles with your EDU card (Lifetime Value of $59)
Credit Score ranges are based on FICO® credit scoring. This is just one scoring method and a credit card issuer may use another method when considering your application. These are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed.

Best Secured Starter Card For Those Starting Out

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Welcome Bonus

Cashback Match™

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

22.99% Variable

Credit Score

New/Rebuilding Credit

Why We Picked It

In the secured credit world, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card stands above the competition. With an unlimited 1% cash back rate on all purchases, plus 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, no penalty APR and no annual fee, we love this card for those who need to rebuild their credit. The matching cash back reward at the end of your first year is a sweet bonus.

Pros & Cons
  • No annual fee
  • Cash back rewards earning is uncommon for a secured card
  • Free FICO score access each month
  • Cashback Match doubles cash back rewards earning at the end of the first year
  • Rewards are capped
  • Secured cards don’t provide many of the perks unsecured cards do
  • Secured cards require refundable deposits
Card Details
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • Using your secured credit card helps build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, prepaid and debit cards can’t do that.
  • Establish your credit line with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 7 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.*
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score.
  • Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click “Apply Now” to see rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
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Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Credit Score ranges are based on FICO® credit scoring. This is just one scoring method and a credit card issuer may use another method when considering your application. These are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed.

Best For Those With Good Checking Account History

Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card

Welcome Bonus

None

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

12.99% – 26.99% (Variable)

Credit Score

Limited/Fair/Good/Excellent

Why We Picked It

If you have no credit or limited credit, the Petal 2 Credit Card is our first choice. You can check to see if you’re pre-approved without impacting your credit score (a process that uses a “soft pull”). This card is light on fees, so if you don’t carry a balance you may be able to build a solid credit history with responsible use while limiting your exposure to fees. However, those with missed payments or a bankruptcy on their credit report are unlikely to be approved.

Pros & Cons
  • No fees: no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, no late fee, no over limit fee
  • No security deposit
  • No credit history required
  • No intro APR offer
  • No cash advances or balance transfers
  • Applicants with a damaged credit report may not qualify
Card Details
  • No fees whatsoever. No late fee, foreign transaction fee, annual fee, or any-other-kind-of-fee, fee.
  • Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away
  • 2% – 10% cash back at select merchants
  • $300 – $10,000 credit limits
  • Variable APRs range from 12.99% – 26.99%
  • No credit score? No problem. If eligible, we’ll create your Cash Score instead.
  • See if you’re pre-approved within minutes without impacting your credit score.
  • Build credit alongside hundreds of thousands of Petal Card members.
  • Petal reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • No deposits required
  • Card issued by WebBank, Member FDIC
Credit Score ranges are based on FICO® credit scoring. This is just one scoring method and a credit card issuer may use another method when considering your application. These are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed.

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