03/13/2016

Building Credit with a Credit Card? Here are your best options!

How to build a credit score

When you are first starting out and don’t yet have any credit established, getting approved for a credit card so you can begin to build credit can be difficult. If you’ve had any credit problems in the past, you’ll likely find yourself in a similarly frustrating position. Consumers in these situations often feel trapped in an unfortunate cycle of needing credit to build credit – but not being able to qualify. Luckily there are credit card issuers that offer cards specifically designed for people who need to build credit. If you don’t have any credit established, or you are on the path to building a more positive credit rating, these are some of the most popular credit cards for building credit.

Fair or Average Credit Scores

Whether you’re new to the credit world or fixing past mistakes, your credit score might be less in the “poor” range and more in the “fair” or “average”. If this is the case, you may qualify for and be able to build your credit score with an unsecured card for those with lower credit scores. While these types of cards usually carry higher than normal APRs, if you are diligent in paying your balance in full each month before your due date, you can build your credit without paying high amounts of interest.

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
fair credit
no credit
intro purchase APR 0% for 9 monthsregular APR23.24 - 23.24% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 9 months no BT fee
rewards 1.5% on all purchases 

earn 1.5% on all purchases with no cap and limitations

$39 annual fee

good for average credit\limited credit

1.5% cash back

read review

This card comes with an APR of 23.24% for purchases and balances as well as an introductory APR of 0% until November 2016. It has an annual fee of $39, but it awards 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make with the card. If you make your first five monthly payments on time, you can qualify for a credit limit increase. This card also includes free access to your credit score and CreditWise, which helps you to manage your credit profile.

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
fair credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR25.24% Variable
intro BT APR no intro offer BT fee 3% min $5
rewards 1-2 points/$1 
  • 2x points on groceries, gas, utilities (excluding Target and Walmart®)
  • 1 point on all other purchases
  • redeem points towards your statement balance to offset purchases

2X points on gas, utility and grocery store (excluding Target® and Walmart®) purchases. 1x points on all other purchases

No annual fee

Points don't expire as long as account is open, active and in good standing

Redeem points for deposits to a U.S. checking or savings account, statement credits or gift cards, starting at 1,000 points for $10

No limit on the number of points you can earn or redeem

Free online access to FICO® Credit Score lets you keep an eye on your credit and get alerts when we learn that your score has changed

Use your card with confidence, $0 Fraud Liability protection means you're not responsible for unauthorized charges you report to us

Chip card technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad

read review

The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard® is also a great option for building credit if you fall within the “fair” range. This card awards 2x points for each dollar spent on gas, utilities, and groceries, and 1x point for each dollar on all other purchases. You can redeem points at 1,000 for $10 for deposits, statement credits, or gift cards. The APR is 25.24%, and there is no annual fee for this card.

Student Credit Cards

College students typically have the most problem with not having enough credit to get credit. Cards for college students like the following are designed to meet the needs of those in school who are beginning their journeys and can help get you started on the right foot.

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
no credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR19.99 - 19.99% (V)
intro BT APR 19.99% no BT fee
rewards 1-1.25% +25% for paying on time
  • get 1% cash back on al purchases
  • and earn +25% on your rewards when you pay on time

 

no annual fee

student card

up to 1.25% cash back

read review

This card has a variable APR of 20.24% and no annual fee. You can earn 1% cash back on all your purchases, which isn’t an option that many student credit cards offer. Plus, if you make your payment on time, you can boost your cash back to 1.25% for that month. The Journey Student Credit Card also includes access to your credit score and CreditWise. And after you make your first five monthly payments on time, you can qualify for a credit limit increase. 

For building credit, also consider our editor’s picks for the best student credit cards.

Secured Credit Cards

Secured credit cards work the same as unsecured except that they require a security deposit that is held by the card issuer in the event that you default on your balance. Most of the time, you can’t even tell the difference between the cards and you can use yours just as you would any card. It’s important when selecting a secured credit card, however, that you choose one that reports your account activity to the credit bureaus so you can build a positive credit rating. 

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit
no credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR24.99 - 24.99% (V)
intro BT APR 24.99% no BT fee

no annual fee

bad credit or no credit 

25 days grace period

read review

You can build or rebuild your credit easily with the Capital One Secured MasterCard. This card has a variable APR of 24.99% but is one of the rare secured credit cards without an annual fee. It requires a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, depending on your credit worthiness, and in exchange you receive a credit card with a limit of $200. As you manage your account, your payments are reported to the credit bureaus to help you build a positive credit rating.

U.S. Bank Secured Visa®

The U.S. Bank Secured Visa has a variable APR of 19.24% and an annual fee of $24. You are required to make a deposit of at least $300. Your payments to the card are reported to the credit bureaus, which can help you build your credit rating. This card also allows you to earn interest on your security deposit so that after your credit has improved and you are able to qualify for an unsecured card, you receive a little extra when you get your deposit back.

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR23.24% (V)
intro BT APR 23.24% 3% BT fee $5 min
rewards 1x-2x miles per dollar +5,000 bonus
  • 2x miles on gas and groceries
  • 1x miles on all other purchases
  • get 5,000 bonus on first card use

 

$25 annual fee

$0 first-year fee

reports to credit agencies

24 days grace period

unsecured card offer after 12 months

read review

You can find more of our favorite secured credit cards for building credit here.



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