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Build Your Credit with the Best First-Time Credit Cards

© [adrian_illie825] / Adobe Stock
Published Tuesday, February 12, 2019
by Feature Staff Special

Credit dictates a lot of the choices we make throughout our lifetime. Whether you're applying for a personal loan or want to move into your own apartment, if you don't have an established line of credit, the only option is a secured card.

A secured card is a type of credit card that requires you to make a refundable security deposit; issuers then use this deposit as collateral on your account. These first-time credit cards are supposed to help prevent over-spending from those who have a limited credit history, protecting both the issuer's and borrower's interests. Start building your credit--check out the best first-time credit cards.

Discover it Student Cash Back
Good for college students


  • Cash Back
    Discover it cards match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. There is no limit to how much they'll match--you can earn as much as $300 per year from bonus rates alone!
  • Reward Program
    Discover doubles all the rewards you earn for the first year your card is open.
  • Yearly Cash Bonus
    Students that maintain at least a 3.0 GPA receive a $20 credit bonus. Eligibility for this program extends up to 5 years.


  • High APR
    For the first six months, this card has no annual fee and a 0% APR. After this period, the student APR rate raises to a pretty high percentage--about 17.61%.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Good for frequent travelers


  • Good for Traveling
    This card comes with no international transaction fees and worldwide Visa acceptance. You can transfer your points to their Ultimate Rewards Travel Transfer Partners, which allows you to book flights at a 20% discount.
  • Rewards for Dining Out
    Earn 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining worldwide and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Flexible Rewards Redemption
    There are endless options for redeeming points including cash back, travel, and merchandise, making this one of the most flexible programs of its kind.
  • Sign-Up Bonus
    You can get 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after opening your account.


  • Annual Fee
    Although it's waived during your first year, there's an annual fee of $95.

Blue Cash Everyday Card by American Express
Good for busy families


  • Supermarket Rewards
    You can earn 3% cash back at supermarkets on purchases of $6,000 or less. For all amounts past this, you'll receive 1% cash back.
  • Cheaper Gas
    You'll also earn 2% cash back at all U.S. gas stations.
  • Department Store Savings
    Earn 2% cash back at huge department stores like Macy's, JC Penny, Nordstrom, Lord and Taylor, and Kohls.
  • Insurance
    This card provides travel and car rental insurance, so you can avoid exorbitant insurance fees.
  • No annual fee


  • Foreign transaction fees
    If you travel a lot, it'll cost you 2.7% of international fees.
  • Lower Acceptance
    Compared to its counterparts such as VISA or Mastercard, American Express cards are not widely accepted.