Getting a credit card may seem complicated as a young adult because you haven’t yet built good credit. However, at 18, you can choose from several credit cards to help you pay for things and start building your credit history with the major credit bureaus.
If you have a credit history, you could qualify for an unsecured credit card with limited credit. Otherwise, you can get a secured or student credit card at this age. Depending on your needs, several attractive card offers exist, including credit cards only for students.
Here’s a guide to making smart choices when choosing the best credit cards for 18-year-olds.
1. Top Credit Cards for 18-Year-Olds
Some important factors for deciding on the top first credit cards for 18-year-olds include:
- High approval odds
- Low fees
- Low introductory interest rates
SavorOne Student Cash Rewards from Capital One
Capital One SavorOne is a student card, so you only qualify if you are at a university, community college, or other higher educational institution. It’s an unsecured card, so you must prove some source of income to qualify because they run credit checks. You earn 3% cashback, unlimited, and you can also earn a $50 one-off cash bonus if you make $100 purchases within three months. However, you must pay your monthly balance in full on time during that period to qualify for the cash bonus.
U.S. Bank Altitude Go Secured Visa
U.S. Bank’s Altitude Go Secured Visa credit card has a higher security deposit requirement than most of $300, which means you have the funds available if needed. The card has no annual fee, and you get rewarded points for every dollar spent on everyday purchases. These include 4 points for eating out and takeouts, 2 for groceries, gas, and EV charging stations, and 1 for other purchases. Also, check out their streaming services credit. Expect an upgrade if you pay your bills on time and use the card regularly.
Chase Freedom Rise
Another of the top credit cards for 18-year-olds is the Chase Freedom Rise. It has no annual fees and is ideal if you are new to credit. However, it charges 3% on foreign transaction fees and has a high annual percentage rate on balances. You earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. It’s an unsecured card, meaning you can expect a variable but highish APR.
2. Best First Credit Cards for 18-Year-Olds
The selection of the best credit cards includes the following based on their approval odds or attractive offers:
Chime Credit Buikder Visa Card
Chime offers an excellent credit builder Visa card with no credit check, annual fee, or interest charges for 18-year-olds. You can automatically transfer Chime’s checking account with no minimum balance or monthly fees to the secure credit builder account.
First Latitude Platinum Mastercard Secured Credit Card
With the First Latitude Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card, you have a secured credit card as a first-time credit card holder. It has a low minimum deposit obligation, starting at $100, while earning rewards of 1% as cashback on purchases. The card has a one-time fee. It allows you to build a credit history since it reports to the three major credit bureaus. There’s an annual fee of $25 for the first year and $35 from the second year onwards.
OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card
If you have bad or no credit, then the OpenSky Secured Visa is the ideal credit card because it has high approval odds. Your credit line matches your security deposit. It has a $35 annual fee, but you can build your credit history across three major reporting agencies and extend your credit line after six months without requiring an additional deposit.
3. Credit Cards for 18-Year-Olds with No Credit
Unless you plan to live off-the-grid, you must build credit for screenings when looking to rent or purchase a home, buy a car, or get insurance coverage. As an 18-year-old, it’s not very likely that you have had a chance to build up your credit score. However, a credit card is one of the most effective starting methods.
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
Even though Capital One Platinum Credit Card has no rewards rate, it is excellent for those with limited or average credit. It also has no annual fees, making it a cheaper choice. Additionally, it reports monthly to three major credit bureaus. It requires a refundable security deposit depending on the line of credit they extend based on your credit history and current financial state. As long as you pay your monthly bills on their due date and keep a balance below the card’s credit limit, you have an inexpensive card to help you build your credit history.
Discover It Student Cash Back
If you are a student and are new to credit, Discover it Student Cash Back is another excellent credit card choice. It allows you to gain experience using a credit card even with no credit score. It has a 5% cashback rate after enrolment on rotating bonus categories for up to $1,500 spending per quarter and 1% on other purchases. You get a cashback match at the end of the first year, meaning you double the money earned. There is no annual percentage rate (APR) penalty fee or card fee.
Tomo Credit Card
For someone with no prior credit history, the Tomo Credit Card uses other metrics for evaluating applications, meaning they perform no credit check. The card has no interest charges and no rewards. It also has an annual fee of $2.99. The card reports to three significant credit bureaus.
4. Building Credit with the Best Credit Card for 18-Year-Olds
Starting your life as a young adult may mean you have your eye on making major purchases soon. That won’t be possible unless you start building credit soon. Here are some excellent credit cards to help you build credit quickly:
Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students
Bank of America’s Travel Rewards for Students is a great card since it has no annual fees and low interest rates with an introductory APR of 0% for 15 billing cycles. It’s also ideal for those studying abroad since there are no foreign transaction fee charges. You get 1.5 points for every dollar you spend, with flexible options for redemption. There’s also a welcome bonus of 25,000 points if you spend at least $1,000 in 90 days. Keep track of your FICO score for free on the online banking or mobile app to help you quickly build credit.
Petal 1 Visa Visa Credit Card
If you have a less-than-perfect credit score, the Petal 1 Visa Credit Card is another powerful way to build it. You won’t need a security deposit, even if you don’t have good credit. The card does have a limited rewards program at selected merchants and no annual fee.
Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card from Bank of America
There are various reward levels on this card, meaning you can earn anything from 1% to 3% cash back depending on the category and the limit of $2,500 in their combined category. After you reach the limit, you earn 1% on all purchases. The minimum refundable security deposit for opening an account is $200. You have no annual fee and access to your FICO score (updated monthly with no charge) from your online banking or mobile app.
5. Best Starter Credit Cards for 18-Year-Olds
The best starter credit cards include:
Deserve EDU Mastercard
You can apply for the Deserve EDU Mastercard without a security deposit or cosigner. It is also a popular card with international students because they don’t need a social security number to apply. The card has no annual fee and a 1% cashback on all purchases. Another benefit is an Amazon Prime Student membership for a spend of $500 in the first three billing cycles.
Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards
Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards is for students 18 years or older with a limited credit history, those new to the country, or previously authorized users on another card. Students get cashback rewards of 1.5% on all purchases, but some categories have higher rewards. For example, Uber is 10%, and hotels and rental cars are 5%. You can expect a welcome bonus of $50 if you spend $100 within the first three months. With this card, you won’t pay annual fees or foreign transactions, but you will pay a late payment fee if you don’t settle on time.
Discover It Secured Credit Card
Discover It Secured is easy to get at 18 since it requires no minimum credit or a credit check to qualify. However, you will need a minimum of $200 or a maximum of $2,500 security deposit for approval. Your credit line depends on your deposit amount. The credit card charges no annual or foreign transaction fees. There’s a simple rewards system of 2% on purchases at some places like restaurants and gas stations for up to $1,000 and an unlimited 1% on other purchases. You double your cashback rewards at the end of the first year with a dollar-for-dollar cashback match. Discover It charges a fee for late payments, so avoid them. Discover It reports to three of the more significant credit bureaus. Most importantly, after seven months of proving your creditworthiness, you qualify for a refund of the security deposit and can ask for an upgrade to an unsecured credit card.
Kickstart Your Credit Journey: Savvy Credit Card Choices for 18-Year-Olds
Embarking on your financial journey at 18 brings exciting opportunities, especially regarding credit cards. While building good credit might seem daunting, selecting the right card can lead you to financial success. This guide offers actionable tips and strategies to navigate the world of credit cards smartly.
Understanding Your Options
- Unsecured vs. Secured Credit Cards:
- Unsecured cards don’t require a security deposit but might need proof of income or a credit check.
- Secured cards are ideal if you’re building credit from scratch, backed by a refundable deposit that often sets your credit limit.
- Student Credit Cards:
- Designed for college students, these cards can offer rewards and lower fees, and are a good start to building credit.
Top Picks for 18-Year-Olds
- For Cashback Rewards: Look for cards like the Capital One SavorOne Student, offering cashback and bonuses with certain spending limits.
- Building Credit with Secured Cards: The U.S. Bank Altitude Go Secured Visa is an excellent choice with its reward points system and potential for an upgrade with responsible use.
- No Annual Fee Options: Chase Freedom Rise is a solid pick with its unlimited cashback on purchases.
Best First Credit Cards
- Easy Approval: Chime Credit Builder Visa and OpenSky Secured Visa are great for those with limited or no credit history.
- Low Deposit Requirements: The First Latitude Platinum Mastercard Secured Credit Card is ideal for newcomers with a low deposit and cashback rewards.
For Students with No Credit
- Capital One Platinum Secured: A no-frills, no-annual-fee card perfect for building credit.
- Discover It Student Cash Back: Offers high cashback rates in rotating categories, ideal for students.
Building Credit Effectively
- Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students: Earn travel points with no annual fees, suitable for studying abroad.
- Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card from Bank of America: A versatile card offering varying cashback rates.
Best Starter Cards
- Deserve EDU Mastercard: A no-security-deposit card, also accessible to international students.
- Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards: Offers cashback on all purchases, ideal for students with limited credit history.
- Discover It Secured Credit Card: A straightforward rewards system, great for building credit with responsible use.
Choosing your first credit card is a pivotal step in your financial journey. Whether it’s a secured card, a student-focused card, or one with rewards, the key is to use it responsibly. Pay your bills on time, keep balances low, and regularly monitor your credit score. This disciplined approach will help you build a strong credit foundation, opening doors to more financial opportunities in the future.