Best Credit Cards to Build Credit

Millennial Money has partnered with CardRatings and creditcards.com for our coverage of credit card products. Millennial Money, CardRatings and creditcards.com may receive a commission from card issuers. This site does not include all financial companies or financial offers.

Credit cards are a great way to earn rewards for travel and more.

But what if you have bad credit? Or no credit? Can you still be approved for a credit card? The answer is yes.

They may not have the same rewards earning capacity of other credit cards on the market, but they may be an even bigger help.

Below are some of the best credit card choices if you’ve damaged your credit or don’t have any at all.

They offer an opportunity to establish or build your credit to where it should be.

11 Best Credit Cards to Build Credit

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: None
  • Earning Potential: None
  • Annual Fee: $0

The Capital One Platinum credit card is a great tool for building up your credit. Although it doesn’t earn rewards, that’s not the goal of this card. The goal is to build up your credit. You’ll start with a lower credit limit, but it can be increased after your first five monthly payments on time.

This card features a preapproval process, which allows you to see if you qualify without a credit check.

There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees either.

The Platinum Credit Card also comes with access to CreditWise, a program that gives free access to your credit score and other tools for credit monitoring.

 

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: $150 after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earning Potential: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Annual Fee: $0

This credit card from Capital One is similar to the Platinum card with a $0 annual fee, but it earns cash back rewards and has a sign-up bonus that can earn you $150!

The QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, which is great for a card designed to build credit.

Cardholders can earn a larger credit line after completing their first five monthly payments on time.

QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards It also comes with helpful tools like account alerts, fraud protection, and 24/7 customer service.

 

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®

  • Sign-up Bonus: None
  • Earning Potential: 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases
  • Annual Fee: $0-$99, based on creditworthiness

Credit One lets you prequalify for the Platinum Visa card, which doesn’t affect your credit. It’s not a secured credit card because there is no deposit required.

However, there is an annual fee, which can be anywhere from $0 to $99 based on your creditworthiness.

The upside is that you’ll earn 1% cash back with this credit card on eligible purchases like gas, groceries, as well as monthly mobile phone, internet, cable, and satellite TV services.

Credit One regularly reviews cardholder accounts and rewards responsible use of their card with higher credit lines.

 

Petal® Visa® Credit Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: None
  • Earning Potential: 1% cash back on purchases, 1.5% after 12 on-time monthly payments
  • Annual Fee: $0

The Petal Cash Back Visa Card is the card with increased rewards earning as it’s used responsibly over time. Cash back rewards start at 1% on purchases but can increase up to 1.5% with consistent on-time payments.

There are no fees with the Petal Cash Back Visa. No annual fees, late fees, foreign transaction fees, or any other fees that credit card companies typically charge.

Other than earning cash back, this is a no-frills credit card meant to assist in getting your credit back on track.

While qualifying does include a credit check, established credit is not always a requirement.

 

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: None
  • Earning Potential: 5% back on all Target purchases
  • Annual Fee: $0

Typically, store-branded credit cards aren’t the best option compared to other rewards credit cards.

They are easier to qualify for, generally, and provide an easy way to build credit at stores that are already part of your weekly routine. That’s the case with the Target RedCard.

If you are a regular Target shopper, using this card responsibly whenever shopping in-store or online will help raise your credit score. It rewards cardholders with 5% back on all Target purchases.

There’s no annual fee with the Target RedCard.

Best Student Credit Cards To Build Credit

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

  • Sign-up Bonus: None
  • Earning Potential: 1% cash back on every purchase. 1.25% if you pay on time
  • Annual Fee: $0

The Journey Student Rewards Credit Card offers unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases, with an upgrade to 1.25% every month that you pay on time.

There’s no annual fee, and you can earn a higher credit line after your first five months of on-time payments.

There are no foreign transaction fees, making this a great card if you are studying abroad.

 

Discover it® Student Cash Back

discover it student cash back credit card image

  • Sign-up Bonus: Any cash back earned is matched at the end of your first year
  • Earning Potential: 5% cash back in rotating categories on first $1,500 quarterly and 1% after that, 1% on other purchases
  • Annual Fee: $0

Students looking to build up their credit should look at the Discover it Student Cash Back card. Not only will it help establish credit that will become more important as you get older, but it earns cash back rewards.

Discover it Student Cash Back is a solid credit card for students who spend money on dining out, gas, groceries, and online shopping at Amazon.

This Discover credit card earns 5% cash back on the first $1,500 in purchases in popular rotating spending categories. All other purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back. Plus, all of your cash back earnings from the first year are matched automatically.

While it builds credit, it’s also useful for larger purchases you need to pay off over time. Discover it Student Cash Back comes with 0% APR for the first six months from account opening.

Excelling in the classroom pays with the Discover it Student Cash Back. You’ll earn a $20 statement credit every year (up to the next five years) that your GPA is 3.0 or higher.

 

Discover it® Chrome for Students

discover it chrome credit card image

  • Sign-up Bonus: Any cash back earned will be matched at the end of your first year
  • Earning Potential: 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on $1,000 per quarter quarterly and 1% after that, 1% on other purchases
  • Annual Fee: $0

Discover it Chrome for Students is a great starter credit card. It helps build credit while earning valuable rewards when dining out and fueling up your car.

Students who qualify will be able to build up their credit through the responsible use of the card. It earns a small bonus reward annually for getting good grades.

Plus, any cash back rewards earned over your first year are matched automatically.

There’s no annual fee with Discover it Chrome for Students and no foreign transaction fees either.

 

Best Secured Credit Cards to Build Credit

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

  • Sign-up Bonus: None
  • Earning Potential: None
  • Annual Fee: $0

Capital One offers its Secured Mastercard to customers looking to rebuild their credit. There’s nothing fancy about this card, but it does the job it’s intended to do. You won’t earn any rewards, but you will be able to rebuild or establish credit through responsible use.

The Capital One Secured Mastercard does require a $49, $99 or $200 refundable minimum security deposit. This is in place of a credit check. You also need access to a bank account to make your security deposit.

Cardholders get to choose their own monthly payment due date as well as payment method. You can choose from paying by check, online, or at a local branch. Paying on-time for your first five months will increase your credit line.

 

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: None
  • Earning Potential: None
  • Annual Fee: $35

No matter how damaged your credit is, The OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card can help you put back the pieces. There’s no credit check to apply, but there is a refundable deposit, which can be as low as $200 and up to $3000.

Monthly payments are reported to all three major credit bureaus.

This may be the best secured credit card to get if you’ve been through a bankruptcy. Using the OpenSky Secured Visa responsibly can help you get your financial life back in order.

It does have an annual fee of $35, but because it is a Visa card, it offers all of the benefits of a Visa card like fraud protection and more.

 

Discover it® Secured

discover it secured credit card image

  • Sign-up Bonus: Any cash back earned will be matched at the end of your first year
  • Earning Potential: 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on combined $1,000 in purchases per quarter, then 1% after that, 1% other purchases
  • Annual Fee: $0

Secured credit cards are real credit cards. Instead of a credit inquiry, they require a refundable deposit to get started.

With Discover it Secured, your deposit becomes your credit line. By practicing responsible credit card use, you’ll build your credit up and your credit score.

Most secured credit cards don’t earn rewards. That’s not the goal of a secured card.

But Discover it Secured rewards cardholders at the same time as building better credit. You’ll also gain access to your FICO credit score for free.

Credit Building Credit Card FAQs

What is the easiest credit card to get approved?

Secured credit cards are the easiest to get approved for because most do not require a credit check. Instead, they require a refundable deposit, which typically becomes your available credit line. The OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card is a good example of this.

Can you get a credit card with a 550 credit score?

550 is considered very poor credit, which limits what credit cards are available. You may find it difficult being approved for most credit cards. Our suggestion is to apply for a secured credit card and build up your credit until you are able to qualify for an unsecured card. It’s imperative to not just build up your credit but learn responsible credit card habits.

Do You Need A Way To Rebuild or Establish Credit?

It might seem counterproductive to apply for a credit card if you’ve made mistakes in your past, leading to damaged credit.

It’s not the only way to rebuild your credit, but it’s a good option if you can control your spending, make small purchases on the card, and pay it off on time and in full every month.

A credit card can be a tool to help you get your financial life back in order, which can help you down the road when you need to make large decisions, like buying a house or new car.

What are you doing to build up your credit? Let us know in the comments.

Additional Disclosures: Millennial Money has partnered with CardRatings and creditcards.com for our coverage of credit card products. Millennial Money, CardRatings and creditcards.com may receive a commission from card issuers. This site does not include all financial companies or financial offers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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