Credit Cards for beginner with no credit history (2015)

wallet-908569_640

This post is outdated! For the 2016 version, please go to Credit Cards for beginner with no credit history (2016)!

When you first have your SSN with no credit history, you should definitely start building your credit history. Yet, you are probably not qualified for most credit cards with best rewards. But don’t be worry, there are some great rewards cards that are designed for people (especially students) with no credit history.

(1). Discover It

discover-it

Features:

  1. Limited Time Offer! Double all cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, including the 5% bonus category, sign-up bonus, Discover Deals, refer bonus. New customers only. Offer expires 2015.9.30.
  2. New Benefits! Earn $20 each year when you get at least a 3.0 GPA, up to 5 years.
  3. Earn $50 after first purchase within 3 months.
  4. Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter, 1% cash back on all other purchases. New categories every quarter. The 5% bonus categories for 2015 are:discover-category-2015
  5. No credit history needed.
  6. There are some pretty good discounts if you shop online through Discover Deals, such as 5% cash back at Apple Store.
  7. When you have this card, you can refer your friends to apply, and you will get $50 for each one being approved, up to $500 per year.
  8. No foreign transaction fee.
  9. No annual fee.

Disadvantages:

  1. Only first $1,500 purchases per quarter on bonus categories can earn 5% cash back, after that you can only earn 1% cash back.
  2. This is a Discover card, which is not as widely accepted as Visa or MasterCard.
  3. Credit limit may be low, but it’s enough for building credit history.
  4. 5% bonus categories may not be correctly identified abroad when using some partner networks like UnionPay.

Summary:

This card is a no-brainer choice. Everyone should get it for its 5% cash back in rotating categories and no annual fee. Besides, Discover Deals sometimes have pretty good discounts.

Application Link:

(2). Chase Freedom

chase-freedom

Features:

  1. Receive 10,000 Ultimate Rewards(UR) points after spending $500 in 3 months from account opening. You can get 2.5k more points by adding an authorized user. The best offer for this card in recent years are 20k+2.5k points. Hopefully you can see the increased bonus offer at mid and end of each year.
  2. If you have more than 10k in your personal chase account, you can request to use a special consideration form for application in any chase branch. This will significantly increase your chances to be approved if you only have a short credit history. If you do not want to use this method, we strongly suggest you apply this card after you have 9 months of credit history and have a fair/good credit score.
  3. You can earn 5 points per dollar spent in rotating categories every season. The rotating categories generally can cover each part of your daily purchase, such as Gas, supermarket, restaurant and Amazon.com. You also earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
  4. If you have Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) card, you can transfer your points from Freedom to CSP, and further transfer them to many frequent traveler programs. For example, you can transfer to United miles or Hyatt points. Their points are generally worth more than 1 cent.
  5. You can earn many more points by referring this card to your friends and family members. Upon each approval, you will receive 5k UR points, up to 50k every calendar year.
  6. No annual fee.

Disadvantages:

  1. You have an $1500 cap in bonus category, which means you can earn up to 7.5k points at bonus category each season. After that, you only get 1 point per dollar spent.
  2. It has foreign transaction fee, so not a good choice for using outside US.
  3. [Effective 06/2015] If you have more than 5 new accounts in the past 24 months, Chase will likely deny your application of Freedom or CSP.

Summary:

5x rotating bonus category and no annual fee makes it a must have card. Use it more on bonus cat. And we also strongly suggest you have CSP in order to make the most valuable use of points from both cards.

Application Link: Chase Freedom

(3). Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students

citi-thankyou-credit-card-preferred-card

Features:

  1. College students with zero credit history can get this card.
  2. Earn 2 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment, 1 ThankYou Point per $1 spent on other purchases.
  3. Earn 2,500 ThankYou Points after spending $500 in first 3 months.
  4. 1 ThankYou Point worth 1 cent in cash back, or 1.25 cent if you have Citi ThankYou Premier Card and purchase airline tickets, or 1.6 cent if you have Citi Prestige Card and purchase American Airline tickets (Bank & Credit Card Points Value). For more information about ThankYou Points (TYP), see Maximize the Credit Card Points Values (overview) and Review of Citi ThankYou Points (TYP) (very detailed).
  5. No annual fee.
  6. Citi retention offer (offer for cardholders who wants to close their accounts) is typically very generous, but still, YMMV (Your mileage may vary).

Disadvantages:

  1. Foreign Transaction Fee exists, so better not use it outside United States.

Summary:

The reward rate of this card is not high, especially compared to some cards which college students can also get, like Chase Freedom Card (need special consideration) and Discover it. But the 2x on dining and entertainment is unique among student cards. It’s still worth applying for students before having more choices.

Application Link: Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Student

(4). BoA Cash Rewards (BoA 123)

boa-cash-rewards

Features:

  1. Earn $100 after spending $500 in first 3 months.
  2. Earn 3% cash back on gas and 2% cash back at grocery stores for the first $1,500 in combined grocery stores and gas purchases each quarter, 1% cash back on other purchases. Earn addition 10% more cash back if you have a Bank of America checking or saving account.
  3. No credit history needed, as long as you have certain amount of deposit in Bank of America (BoA) Checking Account.
  4. No annual fee.

Disadvantages:

  1. The reward rate is not impressive.
  2. Foreign Transaction Fee exists, so better not use it outside United States.

Summary:

The reward rate of BoA Cash Rewards Card is not high, but it’s still worth applying if you have zero or very limited credit history. You could switch to other credit cards with better rewards once you have enough credit history.

Application Link:

  1. BoA Cash Rewards (BoA 123)
  2. BoA Cash Rewards (BoA 123) for StudentsNote: student version has the same benefits as the non-student version. We suggest students apply for student version, non-students apply for non-student version, as suggested by their names.

 

 

Hope you get your first credit card soon!

Share this post with friends: