Best Credit Card For First Time Users in 2013?

Posted by CreditCardGuru

a Visa and MasterCardQ: For first time users, what is the best card?

A: So you’re looking to get your first credit card? Well good for you, because that is one of the most important steps of building credit. There are a lot of great credit card deals out there for first-time users, but there are also a lot of unethical companies that may give you a bad deal. For your first credit card, here’s what you should look for:

Rule #1. An annual fee that’s not a ripoff

Just because you’re a newbie to credit, it doesn’t mean you should be bamboozled!

A lot of cards out there for first-timers will rip you off with outrageously high annual fees, upwards of $75 or more per year!

Now a high fee like that is understandable for a premium travel card like the $95 Delta SkyMiles. But you won’t even qualify for something like that anyway, so why should you be paying a fee that high?! For a regular credit card to start out with, you really shouldn’t pay much – no more than $40/year. Less is even better.

Here are 3 for beginners that are great values:

Rule #2. Stay away from store cards (usually)

Many first timers apply for store cards because they’re so easy to get, but these won’t benefit you much.

First of all, unless they are associated with Visa/MasterCard, then you will only be able to use them at the given store. You would be better off going with a traditional card that can be used everywhere instead – therefore the best credit card for first time users will be one associated with Visa or MasterCard (Discover and AmEx are harder to qualify for, otherwise I would recommend those too).

That being said, I do think it’s okay to get one store card as part of your plan to build up your credit. But just don’t rely solely on store cards… you need to have major credit cards to build a respectable credit record!

Rule #3. Pay attention to the fine print

Fortunately the Credit CARD Act (reform laws) went into a effect a few years ago, creditors have fewer ways to screw consumers. But make no mistake about it, they can still screw you big time!

Nestled in the fine print, you will often find tricks relating to the reward programs (if the card has one). Then in the not-so-fine print (the Schumer box on the application) you will find the info about the APRs, late fees, etc.

If you’re applying for a store card to finance a big purchase, the biggest thing you need to be on the look out for is “no interest if paid-in-full” financing. With this, the only way you avoid interest is if you pay the full amount back before the introductory period ends. If you don’t, the finance charges are applied to your purchase retroactively going back to day 1. You will find this sketchy 0% structure on store-branded cards, not Visa/MasterCards from a major bank (those truly do give 0% offers for the specified amount of time).

After filling out your first credit card application, follow this important tip…

It’s best to make a habit of only charging what you can afford to pay in full each month. As a first time user, the last thing you want to do is pile up a balance from the start. Not to mention, your APR will probably be fairly high as a first timer anyway, so it would not be smart to pay in full!

If you’re unsure which cards are a fit for you, then try this out:
This post was written or last updated November 6, 2013

15 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Brian March 27, 2014 at 3:10PM

    Rediculous.. Warning to first time credit card appliers: DO NOT APPLY ONLINE. Call the 1800 number and talk to someone. I got instantly denied from every credit card I applied to, until I actually spoke with someone who told me I have excellect credit and that it must have been a mistake in the system. Paid off all my college loans and my car – never had a late payment in my life and have a great job making $53k a year. I currently have NO debt either. Amazing how I got declined from every CC application.. It’s like they want people who are in debt because they know they’ll make more money off them in the long run!

    • tess April 7, 2014 at 7:57PM

      wish I would have read this first.

  2. Angelique March 26, 2014 at 7:14AM

    How do i as a first time applicant with low or no credit at all? I start my college classes in the summer and i work privately as a certified nursing assistant. Can people explain what apr is?

  3. Ceairra December 11, 2013 at 8:01PM

    I want to say thank you, also. There are so many horror stories when it comes to credit cards, but no one really tells you how necessary they are. I can’t do anything because I don’t even have a credit score yet. I was pretty scared, but I’m a nerd at heart and did heaps of research. Your website, and Forbes– which explained that I CAN look up my credit score as much as I want with no penalties– were a big help, and I just wanted to say thank you.

  4. Cara September 6, 2013 at 3:29PM

    Just applied for the Discover card and was turned down. I don’t have any credit and need a credit card. Not sure what to choose.

    • Sara November 6, 2013 at 7:01AM

      Get a secured credit card (I got mine with Capitol One). Its how I had to start off.

  5. Tiger Almazan May 2, 2013 at 3:08PM

    Thanks so much for these tips! I’m still wary about getting Cap One as they seem to have a few negative reviews, but the majority say it’s done them good so hopefully it’ll work out. I’m off to apply for one now, wish me luck!

  6. JR March 1, 2013 at 2:05PM

    what do you guys think about the new IT card from discover? good deal or bad deal?

  7. Lee February 19, 2013 at 7:14AM

    Thanks for the suggestions, I’m going to try applying for one. Wish me luck!

  8. boitumelo goba February 18, 2013 at 3:55AM

    how can i get a credit card as a first time user?

  9. Stephanie January 13, 2013 at 7:23PM

    I don’t understand. We followed this and my daughter applied for a student capital one and got turned down. Then got pre approved for a prepaid student discover but in the end got turned down. If it is for students trying to start credit why did she get turned down. I told her don’t app,y for anymore cause that will hurt the good credit score she has which is not doing her any good anyway.

    • Jen March 28, 2013 at 2:24PM

      That happened to me when I was in school. I was confused why I was denied for a student card with a $300 limit. Turned out I had something in collections from a hospital billing mistake. If that isn’t the case for your daughter, or if there isn’t any fraud on her report, then I would try adding her as an authorized user to help build her credit.

  10. Becca May 15, 2012 at 5:45AM

    What about when it says things like “0% for … months” Does that mean that they will surprise me with extra fees after a while?

  11. Cathy April 25, 2012 at 2:03PM

    If at all possible to be added as a cardholder to a relative’s existing American Express account, that’s ideal. The way Amex works, each cardholder has their own unique account number and as such, credit for the whole account is reported in each cardholder’s name. I have done this with each of my 4 kids to help them get credit established.

  12. Gary Rogers April 24, 2012 at 10:29AM

    I just wanted to say thank you so much for the tips on how to get your first time card. I’m a 19 year old male so i don’t really know much about theses kind of things. thank you very much. ^_^

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