The 6 Best First-Time Credit Cards of 2019

Start building your credit history on the right foot

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Choosing and getting approved for your first credit card isn’t easy. Not only is it tough to know how to pick the best credit card the first time around, it’s also tough to get approved when you’ve never had a credit card before. That's why we put together a list of the best first-time best credit cards, so you can get started out on the right foot. Our list includes:

  • Best Overall: Discover it
  • Best Sign-Up Bonus: Chase Freedom
  • Best for Flat-Rate Rewards: Capital One QuicksilverOne
  • Best for Fair Credit: Capital One Secured
  • Best Rewards for Fair Credit: Discover it Secured
  • Best for No Credit Check: OpenSky Secured Visa Card
  • Best Incentive for Repayment: Citi Double Cash

You’ll find a variety of options from rewards credit cards to 0% interest credit cards and even a credit card that doesn’t require a credit check. Be sure to pay attention to the rewards, the interest rate and the fees: These are the most important features for picking the best first credit card. Keep reading to see which first-time cards you should apply for today.

01
Best for Overall: Discover it

Discover it® Card
Courtesy of Wallet Hub

What we like: The Discover it is arguably the best credit card for a first timer. You’ll have the opportunity to earn 5% cash back rewards on purchases in rotating categories. Plus, you’ll enjoy 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 14 months. Of course, you won’t have any balances to transfer, with this being your first credit card. The long introductory period gives you time to get used to having a credit card without having to pay interest.

Discover it’s reward program allows you to earn 5% on up to $1,500 on purchases in categories that rotate each quarter. All your other purchases will earn 1% cash back. As a bonus, at the end of your first year, Discover automatically matched all the cashback you earned since your account opening.

You’ll enjoy a few other perks. Freeze it on/off switch helps prevent unauthorized purchases on your credit card by allowing you to temporarily freeze your credit card. Each of your monthly statements will include your FICO score – a great benefit for you to see how you’re building a good credit score with your first credit card.

What we don't like: You’ll have to be sure to register prior to each quarter to receive the 5% cashback bonus. Otherwise, your purchases in the bonus categories will only earn 1% back back.

  • Minimum Credit Required: Good
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Intro APR: 0% for 14 months on balance transfers and purchases
  • Ongoing APR: 14.24% to 25.24% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the transfer amount that posts to your account by November 10, 2019; after that 5%
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 5% of the cash advance
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: None
  • Signup bonus: None offered

02
Best Sign-Up Bonus: Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom
Courtesy of Chase

What we like: With the Chase Freedom, you’ll earn a $150 sign-up bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account. Chase only pays the signup bonus to cardholders who haven’t earned a bonus in the previous 24 months – a restriction you won’t have to worry about with your first credit card.

Ongoing, you’ll have the ability to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases categories that rotate each quarter. You’ll earn 1% cash back on all your other purchases.

Enjoy 0% introductory APR on purchases (and balance transfers) for the first 15 months.

What we don't like: Similar to the Discover it, you’ll have to activate to earn the 5% rewards. 

  • Minimum Credit Required: Good
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
  • Ongoing APR: 17.24% to 25.99% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 3% of the transfer amount
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 5% of the cash advance amount
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: 3% of the amount in U.S. dollars
  • Signup Bonus: $150 bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months

View details about this credit card.

03
Best for Flat-Rate Rewards: Capital One QuicksilverOne

Capital One
Courtesy of Capital One

What we like: The Capital One QuickSilverOne credit card keeps it simply by paying a flat 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. This is great if you don’t want to keep up with rotating categories and you think you might forget to register or activate for the bonus rewards. Your cash back rewards never expire and you can redeem your rewards at any time.

Being responsible with your first credit card is important for building your credit. Capital One will reward you for paying on time by automatically considering you for a credit limit increase if you make your first five monthly payments on time.

What we don't like: Since the QuicksilverOne charges an annual fee, you'll have to spend at least $2,600 annually to earn enough rewards to offset the fee.

  • Minimum Credit Required: Average
  • Annual Fee: $39
  • Intro APR: None
  • Ongoing APR: 26.96% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: None
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 3% of the cash advance amount
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: None
  • Signup Bonus: None offered

View details about this credit card

04
Best for Fair Credit: Capital One Secured

Courtesy of Capital One

What we like: Capital One Secured gives you a chance to get a credit card if a previous late loan payment or debt collection is making it harder for you to get approved. Since it's a secured credit card, you'll pay a deposit to secure the credit limit for your account.

With the Capital One Secured MasterCard, you may be able to make a minimum security deposit of $49, $99 or $200 for a $200 credit limit, depending on your creditworthiness.

Just like the Capital One QuicksilverOne, Capital One will consider you for an automatic credit limit increase after you make your first five monthly payments on time. Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed.

What we don't like: This card comes with a high APR, which increases the cost of carrying a balance rather than paying it in full.

  • Minimum Credit Required: Poor
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Intro APR: None offered
  • Ongoing APR: 26.99% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Cash Advance Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: None
  • Signup bonus: None offered

View details about this credit card.

05
Best Rewards for Fair Credit: Discover it Secured

Discover Secured
Courtesy of My Bank Tracker

What we like: The Discover it secured credit card allows you to secure your credit limit with a security deposit but also pays rewards on your purchases.

You’ll earn 2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. All other purchases will earn 1% cash back. You’ll want to keep your credit card open for at least a year because Discover matches the cash back you earn at the end of the first year, dollar for dollar.

You can redeem your rewards at any time for any amount. You can even use your rewards automatically at Amazon.com to discount a purchase or pay for the full purchase.

What we don't like: The higher 2% cash back rewards are capped at $1,000 each quarter. If you're a big spender, that limits your ability to earn rewards.

  • Minimum Credit Required: Poor
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Intro APR: 10.99% for six months from the date of transfer on transfers made by August 10, 2019.
  • Ongoing APR: 25.24% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the transfer amount that posts to your account by August 10, 2019; 5% of the transfer amount after that.
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 5% of the cash advance amount
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: None
  • Signup bonus: None offered

06
Best for No Credit Check: OpenSky Secured Visa Card

OpenSky
Courtesy of OpenSky

What we like: The OpenSky Secured Visa doesn’t require a credit check at all, which means you’re virtually guaranteed to be approved, granted you can make a minimum $200 security deposit. This is a good option if you've previously filed bankruptcy or you have delinquencies on other loans.

If you'd like a bigger credit limit and you can afford to, you can deposit up to $3,000 to secure your credit limit for the credit card.

The OpenSky Secured reports your account history to the credit bureaus. That means your responsible use will help you build your credit history and qualify for an unsecured credit card.

What we don't like: Unlike most other secured credit cards, you don’t have the option of converting to an unsecured credit card by making timely payments. You’ll receive a refund of your security deposit within four to six weeks after closing your account.

  • Minimum Credit Required: None
  • Annual Fee: $35
  • Intro APR: None offered
  • Ongoing APR: 19.64%
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Cash Advance Fee: $6 or 5% of the cash advance amount
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: 3% of the purchase amount in U.S. dollars
  • Signup bonus: None offered

View details about this credit card.

07
Best Incentive for Repayment: Citi Double Cash

Citi Double Cash
Courtesy of Citi

What we like: The Citi Double Cash Card rewards you twice: first when you make your purchases and again when you pay off your balance. As a first time credit card user, building a habit of paying off your balance quickly is important for staying out of debt.

Citi will waive the first late fee if you're accidentally late on a payment while getting used to using a credit card. After that, you could be charged a late fee of up to $39. You'll also have Citi Private Pass, which gives special access to event tickets, like presale concert tickets. And, with Citi Price Rewind, you'll get an automatic price adjustment if the price drops on an item you purchased with your credit card within the past 60 days.

What we don't like: The Citi Double Cash doesn't offer any signup bonus as an incentive for new customers.

  • Minimum Credit Required: Good
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Intro APR: 0% on balance transfers for 18 months
  • Ongoing APR: 15.99% to 25.99% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 3% of the transfer amount
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 5% of the cash advance
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: 3% of the purchase amount in U.S. dollars
  • Signup Bonus: None offered

View details about this credit card.