Applying for a credit card is one of those adult milestones everyone is eager to take on but terrified of at the same time. We have all heard horror stories of people in way over their heads in credit card debt. Owning a credit card can be a positive fundamental step in growing up - all you have to do is stay disciplined and on top of your bills. So, are you thinking about applying for a credit card? Before you take the dive, check out the best credit cards for young adults.


Product FAQ


1. What Is a Credit Card?

A credit card is a typically plastic card given to you by a bank that allows you to make purchases with it using borrowed money which you are expected to pay back over a specified period or beforehand. You can use a credit card to pay for anything ranging from a burger to a mortgage on your house.

Most credit cards have a grace period of 25-30 days for you to pay them back interest-free. If you do not pay back the money you borrowed within that time, you are charged a percentage, known as interest, on the money that you owe back to the lender.

swipe credit card

Some credit cards offer a no-interest introductory deal when signing up. For example, a credit card may offer to not charge interest on your balance within the first twelve months of opening your account. This means you have twelve months from the day you open your account to pay off any charges on your card. This is a much more relaxed grace period than 25-30 days. After twelve months are up, you will have to abide by the 25-30 day grace period to pay off your card interest-free.

 

2. How Do You Get a Credit Card?

In order to be eligible for a credit card, you will need an excellent credit rating. How do you prove you will be able to pay off your credit card without established credit? There are a couple of ways you can do this.

You can start off your credit card collection by getting a secured credit card. A secured credit card means you must deposit cash up front that is equal to your credit line. If you have a $1,000 credit line, you will have to deposit $1,000 up front. This is the credit card company's way of securing your ability to pay off your card.

passing a credit card

Another way to get a credit card is to apply for a student credit card. Credit card companies that offer student credit cards are aware that those applying will most likely have little to no credit. For student credit cards, you do not necessarily need a substantial credit report, but if you are under 21, you must prove you have an independent income. If you are over 21, you are required to report your independent income as well as your partner's income if applicable, and any allowances you may receive. A student credit card is definitely one of the best credit cards for young adults.


3. How Does a Credit Card Work?

You may ask yourself, "How can I spend money that is not mine?" Well, that is the whole premise of a credit card. Once you have applied and been approved for a credit card, the bank or lender will notify you of your line of credit. The line of credit you are given is based on your credit score and income, your ability to repay in other words. The better your credit score and the higher your income, the more your line of credit will be.

For example, an established adult who has a solid career and a positive credit history may have a credit line of $5,000 or more. To the contrary, a young adult who has never had a credit card may have a credit line of $500.

holding a credit card using a laptop

Within your line of credit, you are able to use that money to make purchases, take out cash advances and transfer balances from other cards. No matter what you use your credit card for, you must ensure you pay the minimum balance each month. If you do not pay your credit card balance in entirety before the grace period is up, you will begin to be charged interest. The interest amount is different for each person and each bank.


4. How Do You Apply for a Credit Card?

Applying for a credit card is easy. You can easily go to your bank's website and apply there. If you apply online, you will know immediately if they have accepted you. Though accepted, your bank may still want some more time to establish your line of credit amount. If you apply using a pamphlet sent to you in the mail, it can take a couple weeks to find out if you have been accepted. For efficiency, it is best to apply online.

credit card

 


How We Reviewed

The following credit cards were reviewed based on their features, positive and negative aspects, interest rates, annual fees and rewards. This list was put together based on extensive research of all credit cards on the market. We have already done the heavy work of comparing for you.  After collecting all the data, we have listed some of the best credit cards for young adults available at the moment.


Overall Interest Rate Range for the Best Credit Cards for Young Adults

Credit cards often seem like the perfect solution to your everyday expenses. They promote cash back rewards, bonuses and more to lure customers in. However, it is important that you know exactly what you are getting into. Knowing how much interest your credit card provider charges is crucial when it comes to using your credit card responsibly.

The cards we reviewed will assess interest from as low as 13.99% to 26.99%, depending on your creditworthiness and your payment history.


What We Reviewed

  • Discover It® Cash Back

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
  • Capital One® Platinum Credit Card
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
  • Capital One® Journey® Student Credit Card
  • Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • Amex EveryDay Credit Card
  • OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

 

DISCOVER IT® CASH BACK

credit card

FEATURES

Discover used to have a bad reputation because their card was not accepted at a lot of places. Over the years, they have sorted that issue out and are now accepted almost everywhere. People hated that retail stores and restaurants didn't take Discover because the card's rewards were hard to beat.  Now, the Discover It® Cash Back card has a great reputation and is one of the best credit cards for young adults.

Pros

  • 0% interest for 14 months from the date of opening
  • No annual fee
  • No late fee the first time you are late to pay

Cons

  • $10 or 5% fee on cash advances
  • 3% balance transfer fee
  • They charge you $37 for every late payment after your first one

Interest Rates

Discover It® Cash Back offers 0% interest for the first 14 months. After the intro period, you will be charged from 13.99% to 24.99% interest. Your interest rate is based on how creditworthy you are.

 

Rewards

This is one of the best credit cards for young adults because of its rewards. Specific categories earn 5% cash back. Others earn 1% cash back. These rewards are added to your cash back bonus and never expire. Also, for the first twelve billing cycles, Discover will match your rewards and credit your account. This means that any cash back bonuses and other rewards are doubled.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

credit card

FEATURES

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is the best credit card for young adults who travel. You earn points for spending money using this card. You are then able to redeem the points you have earned for miles and flights. They offer a 50,000 point bonus if you spend over $4,000 on the card in the first three months. That many points equates to about $625 that you can put toward your travel fund.

Pros

  • 1 point for every dollar you spend
  • 2X points for every dollar you spend dining at restaurants around the world
  • 0% balance transfer fee
  • Auto rental insurance
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Extended warranty
  • Roadside assistance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Concierge service
  • Price protection
  • Travel insurance

Cons

  • Annual fee of $95 after the first year
  • High interest

Interest Rates

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has slightly higher interest rates. Depending on your creditworthiness, your interest rate, if you fail to pay off your card before the grace period due date, can be anywhere between 17.74% and 24.74%.


Rewards

If you are a frequent traveler, this card is perfect for you. Every dollar you spend adds up in points, and you are further rewarded with bonus points that you can redeem for either flights or miles.

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

smartphone

FEATURES

The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is one of the best credit cards for young adults who are searching for a high credit line. If you pay your first five monthly payments on time, you are eligible for a higher line of credit.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • You can check your credit score for free
  • Fraud coverage
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 24-hour travel help
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Extended warranty

Cons

  • High interest
  • 26.97% interest on cash advances

Interest Rates

The interest rate for this credit card is on the higher side. This is only an issue if you can't pay off your card within the grace period given. Interest rates are either 22.97%, 24.97%, or 26.97% based on your creditworthiness.


Rewards

Capital One cardholders have access to presale tickets for concerts and other events like Jingle Ball, the iHeartRadio Music Festival and the Orange Bowl. It is the best credit card for young adults who love to attend these incredible events.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

credit card

FEATURES

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card is one of the best credit cards for young adults who live a jet-setting lifestyle. This credit card offers unlimited points and for every dollar you spend you earn 1.5 points. These points never expire and apply to every purchase.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Relatively lower interest
  • Credit card fraud coverage
  • Overdraft protection
  • Check your credit score for free
  • 0% interest for the first 12 billing cycles

Cons

  • 3% balance transfer fee
  • Points take a while to transfer for redemption

Interest Rates

The interest rate for this credit card is relatively low. If you fail to pay off your monthly bill after the first 12 months, you will be assessed an interest rate from 16.99% to 24.99%.


Rewards

This is one of the best credit cards for young adults because of its great rewards. For every dollar you spend, you earn 1.5 points. There are no blackout dates, points never expire, and this offer is valid no matter where you are shopping. In addition, if you spend at least $1,000 using the credit card in the first ninety days of opening your account, you will receive 25,000 bonus points which equates to $250 that you can put toward travel purchases.

Capital One® Journey® Student Credit Card

journey-card-art

FEATURES

The Capital One® Journey® Student Credit Card is one of the best credit cards for young adults or students who have never owned a credit card before. This card has no annual fee and is relatively easy to get even if your credit score is not good.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Opportunity to raise your credit line after five months
  • Free credit score
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • No 0% APR intro offer
  • High interest
  • Late payment fee up to $38

Interest Rates

The interest rates for this credit card are on the higher side. This is only an issue if you can't pay off your card within the grace period given. Interest rates are either 22.97%, 24.97%, or 26.97% based on your creditworthiness.


Rewards

This credit card offers 1% cash back on all of your purchases with no restrictions applied. If you pay your bill on time, this offer is automatically boosted to 1.25% cash back on all of your purchases for that month.

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

FEATURES

The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card is the best credit card for young adults who are heavy spenders. The card offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases, whether for retail or dining. If you spend over $50,000 on this credit card each year, the rewards will be worth your while.

Pros

  • 0% annual fee
  • Relatively low APR
  • 0% interest for the first 12 months
  • Rewards never expire

Cons

  • Not good if you want to receive greater than 1.5% cash back
  • Few rewards

Interest Rates

This credit card offers 0% interest for the first twelve months. After that intro period, interest rates can start as low as 15.99% and go as high as 26.99%.


Rewards

This credit card does not have many rewards, but the ones it has are good.  If you spend over $1,000 on this card in the first three months, you will receive a $200 cash back bonus. You also receive 1.5% rewards on all purchases with no restrictions. These rewards never expire.

Amex EveryDay Credit Card

amex-everyday

FEATURES

The Amex EveryDay Credit Card is one of the best credit cards for young adults available. There are very few negatives to this card as it offers great rewards in all aspects of life.

Pros

  • No balance transfer fee if requested within 60 days of opening the account
  • No interest for the first 12 months
  • The interest rate is relatively low
  • No annual fee
  • Great rewards

Cons

  • Slightly harder to get accepted
  • Value of reward points varies

Interest Rates

This is one of the best credit cards for young adults because it has a decently low interest rate. For the first twelve billing periods from the date of opening your account you are charged 0% interest. After that grace period, interest rates start as low as 14.99% and can reach as high as 25.99%.


Rewards

This credit card has a variety of great rewards to offer. For starters, simply by charging twenty purchases to this credit card, you will receive a 20% bonus of extra reward points on those purchases. This card is very desirable because it offers 2x points on any purchase made at supermarkets in the United States. This reward multiplier is valid for up to $6,000 in supermarket purchases. For every other purchase you make, you receive one point for every dollar you spend.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

opensky credit card

FEATURES

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is the best credit card for young adults who want to start a credit score but do not have enough money for an unsecured credit line. This card allows you to choose how much you would like to provide for your refundable deposit. The amount you deposit is your credit line amount. This means you get to choose your own credit line. This is a great credit card if you are trying to build reputable credit fast.

Pros

  • Great starter card if you have a bad or no credit score
  • OpenSky reports to all three major credit bureaus

Cons

  • Annual fee
  • High interest on cash advances
  • Mediocre APR
  • Foreign transaction fee

 Interest Rates

The interest rate for this credit card varies but will probably be around 19.99%.


Rewards

This credit card does not offer any cash back bonuses or rewards. It is, however, one of the few credit cards that accept customers who have no credit score or a bad credit score. Ninety-nine percent of their cardholders who start out with a bad or no credit score have a good or excellent credit score within six months.


The Verdict

There are so many credit cards to choose from, it can get overwhelming selecting the perfect one for your lifestyle. The credit cards above are some of the best credit cards for young adults at varying stages in life and credit responsibility. For those who have never had a credit card, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is a great option to get your credit rolling. Once you have established credit, you can apply for a card like the Amex EveryDay Credit Card, which offers rewards for all of your shopping experiences.

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