The Best Credit Cards To Build Credit

Camino Financial09 Jan 2024
The Best Credit Cards To Build Credit
A credit card to build credit can be a powerful tool to improve your chances of improving your credit history. But, before you get a card, it's essential to understand how they work and how using them can impact your credit rating. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about using credit cards. We'll cover their basics and show you how to use them responsibly to improve your credit score. So whether you're just starting or are looking for ways to enhance your current score, this guide is for you!

Top 10 Credit Cards To Build Credit

Discover It Secured Credit Card

Tarjeta Discover it Secured
  • Intro APR: none
  • Regular APR: 28.24% (variable)
  • Security deposit: starting at $200
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Monthly fee: $0
  • One-Time Fees: $0
  • Other features:
    • 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants
    • unlimited 1% cash back on other purchases
    • unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of all the cashback for the first year
    • After 7 months, you could upgrade to an unsecured card (you get your deposit back)
    • reports to all 3 credit bureaus
    • no credit required

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Capital One Platinum Credit Card
  • Intro APR: none
  • Regular APR: 30.49% (variable)
  • Security deposit: $49, $99 or $200 (refundable)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Monthly fee: $0
  • One-Time Fees: $0
  • Other features:
    • after 6 months, you could get a higher credit line
    • reports to all 3 credit bureaus
    • no credit required

Petal 2 Visa Credit Card

Petal 2 Credit Card
  • Intro APR: none
  • Regular APR: 18.24% to 32.24%1 (variable)
  • Security deposit: none
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Monthly fee: $0
  • One-Time Fees: none
  • Other features:
    • 1% to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases
    • credit limits from $500 to $10,000
    • reports to the major credit bureaus
    • for no credit, fair credit, or good credit

US Bank Altitude Go Visa Secured Card

US Bank Altitude Go Visa Secured Card
  • Intro APR: none
  • Regular APR: 29.99% (variable)
  • Security deposit: $300 to $5,000
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Monthly fee: $0
  • One-Time Fees: $0
  • Other features:
    • earn points (4X on dining; 2X on groceries, streaming, and gas and EV stations; 1X on other purchases)
    • $15 annual streaming credit after 11 months of streaming purchases
    • reports to all 3 credit bureaus
    • for poor credit

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card

Tarjeta OpenSky Secured Visa
  • Intro APR: none
  • Regular APR: 20.99% to 22.39% (variable)
  • Security deposit: $200
  • Annual fee: $35
  • Monthly fee: $0
  • One-Time Fees: $0
  • Other features:
    • approval rate of 88%
    • no credit check
    • reports to all 3 credit bureaus
    • for poor credit

Avant Credit Card

Avant Credit Card
  • Intro APR: none
  • Regular APR: 30.24% to 35.24% (variable)
  • Security deposit: none
  • Annual fee: $0 to $59
  • Monthly fee: $0
  • One-Time Fees: $0
  • Other features:
    • credit limit of $300
    • reports to all 3 credit bureaus
    • for poor credit and poor credit

Discover It Student Cash Back

Discover it Student Cash Back

Best for students

  • Intro APR: 0% for 6 months
  • Regular APR: 18.24% to 27.24% (variable)
  • Security deposit: none
  • Annual fee: %0
  • Monthly fee: $0
  • One-Time Fees: $0
  • Other features:
    • 5% cash back on specific purchases
    • 1% cash back on all other purchases
    • unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of all the cashback for the first year
    • reports to all 3 credit bureaus
    • for no credit, fair credit

Capital One Spark 1% Classic For Business

Capital One Spark 1% Classic for Business

Best for businesses

  • Intro APR: none
  • Regular APR: 30.49% (variable)
  • Security deposit: none
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Monthly fee: $0
  • One-Time Fees: $0
  • Other features:
    • unlimited 1% cash back
    • helps build credit

*Terms may change without prior notice. **Conditions may apply to rewards and promotions.

HOW TO RAISE YOUR CREDIT SCORE

How To Get A Credit Card

How To Choose The Best Credit Card

The credit card that best suits your needs will depend on your individual financial situation and spending habits. That said, there are a few key factors to keep in mind when selecting a credit card.

Credit Bureau Reporting

Does the card report to all three major credit bureaus? You'd think they all would, right? Not necessarily. It's vital that the issuer reports your card activity to Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. This gives you broad coverage and ensures all your hard work is being noticed.

A Manageable Annual Fee

Sometimes an annual fee can be worth it if the rewards and benefits outweigh the costs. Look for a card with a fee that won't have you breaking the piggy bank, but remember to weigh it against other card perks.

A Good Interest Rate

Interest rates can eat into your budget if you're not careful. A card with a competitive APR (Annual Percentage Rate) means you'll pay less interest over time, especially if you occasionally carry a balance.

Low Fees

Beyond the annual fee, cards can come with all sorts of costs, from:
  • late payment fees
  • balance transfer fees
  • foreign transaction fees
  • cash advance fees
Take a close look at the fees associated with each card you're considering. Be sure to choose a card that won't nickel-and-dime you to death.

No Fine Print

Prioritize credit cards that lay everything out in clear, plain language. Beware issuers with sketchy annual or hidden fees. Cards that are up-front about their terms and policies mean fewer surprises later on. If it seems like they're trying to hide something behind confusing jargon or microscopic font, you might want to ask, "What's the catch?" Always opt for clarity and honesty. After all, transparency is a sign of trustworthiness.

Rewards And Benefits

While building credit is the main goal, why not get a little something extra? Cashback? Travel rewards? Discounts? Consider what type of rewards you're looking for and find a card that not only helps you establish good credit but treats you every now and then.

An Upgrade Path

Think of your first credit card as a stepping stone. After you've built a good credit, you'll want options to upgrade to a card with even better perks. Check if the issuer offers an easy path to bigger and better cards down the line.

Flexible Security Deposit

If you're leaning towards a secured card, it's crucial to find one that doesn't ask for an arm and a leg upfront. A card that offers flexibility in its deposit amount can make the entry point much easier on your wallet. Just know that the deposit will work as your credit line, the higher the deposit, the higher the credit limit you'll have. Ensuring that the security deposit is refundable is also important.

Convenient Payment Options

How easy is it to pay off your card? Whether it's online banking, autopay, mobile apps, or good old-fashioned checks, make sure the card issuer offers payment options that suit your lifestyle.

How To Apply For A Credit Card

  1. Shop Around. Don't apply for the first credit card that you find, research and compare so you can find the one that best suits your needs. Make sure you've read up on all the specifics of your card of choice. Knowledge is power, after all!
  2. Gather Your Personal Information. Credit card issuers will want to know your employment status, annual income, and Social Security number. Gather this information ahead of time to make the application process smoother.
  3. Complete The Application. Whether online, in-person, or through mail, fill out the application form with all the required details. Be honest and accurate, as this can impact your approval chances.
  4. Wait For A Response. After submitting, you'll typically hear back in a week or two. Some issuers also offer instant decisions, especially with online applications.
  5. Understand The Decision. Approved? Fantastic! Declined? Don't despair. Issuers must provide a reason, so use that feedback to improve your chances next time.

Tips To Get Approved For A Credit Card

  • Show Consistent Income. Because, most likely, you have a bad score or no score at all, credit card companies will want to see that you're able to repay your debts on time each month. A steady job with a consistent income can work wonders for your approval chances.
  • Reduce Your Existing Debt. Issuers will look at how much debt you currently have. Lower balances signal to them that you're responsible with credit.
  • Don't Apply Too Frequently. Lenders may view this as a sign that you're desperate for credit and are having trouble managing your finances. Plus, each application results in a hard inquiry on your credit report.
  • Check Eligibility Criteria. Some cards, especially those with high rewards, may have specific eligibility criteria. Make sure you meet these to avoid an unnecessary hard inquiry.
  • Consider A Co-Signer. If you're new to credit or have a low score, consider asking someone with good credit to co-sign your application. It can greatly increase approval odds, but remember, they'll be responsible for any debt if you can't pay.
  • Stay Persistent. A decline isn't the end of the world. Use it as a learning experience. Adjust, improve, and try again!

How To Build Credit With A Credit Card

Start With A Secured Credit Card

A secured credit card requires a cash deposit you make when you open the account. It serves as collateral if you don't pay your bill and determines your credit limit. This can be a good way to build credit because it's essentially the same as a regular credit card, except that you have to deposit it. Just make sure to use it wisely by always making your payments on time and in full.

Become An Authorized User On Someone Else's Credit Card

If you know someone with good credit who is willing to add you as an authorized user on their credit card. Essentially, the credit card account, with all its history, will appear on your credit report. If the primary cardholder has a strong record of timely payments and maintains a low balance relative to their credit limit, these positive behaviors will reflect on your credit profile.

Keep Charges Minimal To Keep The Utilization Rate Low

Your "utilization rate" is the ratio of your credit card balance to your credit limit. For example, if you have a card with a $1,000 limit and you've charged $500, your utilization rate is 50%. Experts often advise keeping this rate below 30%. Why? A low utilization rate shows you're not maxing out your card.

Make Payments On-Time

Make sure you make your payments on time and in full each month. This will help you avoid interest charges and late fees and will also show creditors that you're responsible for credit. Making late payments or missing them altogether can put a dent in your credit. Setting reminders or automating payments can be a lifesaver.

Pay Your Balance In Full Each Month

While it's tempting to just pay the minimum amount due and carry forward the balance, doing so regularly can cost you interest and negatively affect your credit score. Whenever possible, clear the entire balance. This not only boosts your score but also keeps you debt-free.

Only Apply For A Credit Card When It's Truly Needed

Every time you're tempted by a new credit card offer, pause and reflect. Applying for multiple cards might seem like a way to boost your credit options, but in reality, each application generates a hard inquiry on your credit report. While a single inquiry might only slightly impact your score, several in quick succession can be a red flag to lenders, signaling potential financial distress. Strategic application, rather than impulse, is the key to maintaining a healthy credit profile.

Use Your Credit Card Regularly

By using your credit card for routine purchases, you demonstrate active and responsible credit behavior. It shows lenders you're engaged in managing your finances. But here's the trick: while swiping is good, it's equally crucial to ensure you're not overspending. Balance is the name of the game.

Spend Wisely

While it's great to use your card regularly, it's crucial to ensure you're not biting off more than you can chew. Only make purchases you can pay off when the statement arrives. This prevents interest accumulation and keeps you in the good books of credit bureaus.

Pros And Cons Of Using A Credit Card To Build Credit

Pros:
  • Establishing Credit History. Regular and responsible credit card use establishes a history, which is invaluable for major life purchases like a home or car.
  • Rewards And Benefits. From cashback to travel rewards, many cards offer enticing perks for users.
  • Convenience. Credit cards are globally accepted and offer seamless transactions, especially handy for online shopping or travel.
  • Financial Safety. In cases of fraud, credit cards often provide more protection than debit cards.
Cons:
  • Potential For Debt. Misuse or overspending can lead to revolving debt, which snowballs with high interest.
  • Fees And Interest. Some cards come loaded with fees, and if you don't pay in full, interest can accumulate rapidly.
  • Impact On Credit. Late payments or high utilization can negatively impact your score.
  • Temptation To Overspend. With a high credit limit, it's tempting to make unnecessary purchases, which can lead to financial strain.

Credit Cards 101

How Does A Credit Card Work?

The card issuer determines the credit limit, and it may vary depending on the type of card and the cardholder's creditworthiness. When making a purchase, the cardholder borrows money from the card issuer. Each month, the card issuer will send a statement with the total amount spent, and you need to pay a part of it (the minimum payment) or the entire balance. If you opt not to pay the total balance, the remaining amount carries forward with interest. What you pay includes the interest and any fees associated with the account. If the cardholder does not repay the debt, the card issuer may report the delinquency to the credit bureaus, which can negatively impact the cardholder's credit score. To help offset the risk of non-payment, many card issuers charge an annual fee and/or a monthly maintenance fee. They may also offer incentives, such as reward points, to encourage cardholders to use their cards.

Credit Card Requirements

  • A Regular Source Of Income. You'll need to prove that you have a steady income; this can come from a job, benefits, or other sources.
  • A Positive Credit Score. The higher your score, the better your chances of getting approved for a credit card. If you haven't built credit yet, this eligibility criteria doesn't apply to you.
  • Enough Income To Cover Your Debts. Lenders will want to see that you have enough income to cover your debts, including any new debt from a credit card.
  • Age. Typically, you need to be at least 18.
  • A Valid ID. You'll need to show a valid government-issued ID, such as a driver's license or passport.
  • Residential Status. Some cards might require proof of a stable residence or even citizenship in certain cases.
  • A Bank Account. Sometimes, you'll need to have a bank account with the issuer (if it's a bank) to be able to apply for the card.

What Is The Difference Between A Secured And An Unsecured Credit Card?

Both types of cards can help you build or rebuild credit, but there are some key distinctions:
  • Secured Credit Card. You pay a deposit upfront, which typically sets your credit limit. This deposit acts as collateral, so if you default on your payments, the issuer can take the deposit. It's ideal for those new to credit or rebuilding their score.
  • Unsecured Credit Card. It doesn't require a deposit. Instead, the issuer grants a credit limit based on your creditworthiness. It often comes with better perks and rewards but requires a decent credit history.

Should I Get A Credit Card?

Answer these questions to make your decision:
  • Do you generally carry a balance on your credit card? You may want to reconsider getting one if you typically carry a balance on your credit card from month to month. The interest charges on credit cards can be very high, so carrying a balance will cost you a lot of money in the long run.
  • Do you have trouble controlling your spending? If you find it difficult to stick to a budget, then a credit card may not be the best idea. It can be very easy to overspend with a credit card, leading to debt problems down the road.
  • Do you have good credit? If you have good credit, then you may be able to qualify for a credit card with perks like cash back or travel rewards. However, if your credit is not so good, you may end up with a card that has high interest rates and fees.
  • Do you need a credit card for emergency purposes? If you only plan on using a credit card in case of an emergency, then you may want to consider getting a debit card instead. That way, you can avoid paying interest and fees on your credit card balance.
BEST UNSECURED CREDIT CARDS
#DidYouKnow If you carry a balance on your credit card from month to month, you will pay interest, which can add up quickly.

Types Of Credit Cards To Build Credit

  • Secured Credit Cards. You'll have to put down a deposit that the lender will use as collateral in case you can't make your payments. This means that you'll need to have some money saved up before you can get one.
  • Prepaid Credit Cards. You'll load the card with money in advance and then use it like a normal credit card. This can be a good option if you're worried about not being able to make your payments, but it can be expensive since you'll have to pay fees to load the card and use it.
  • Student Credit Cards. Designed specifically for those pursuing higher education, these cards often have lower credit limits but come with perks like rewards and no annual fee. Plus, they understand that students might not have a long credit history.
  • Gas Credit Cards. They often provide cashback or points for fuel-related expenses, making them ideal for commuters or travelers.
  • Alternative Underwriting Credit Cards. They can be a boon for those with a limited or blemished credit history but show financial responsibility in other ways. Instead of focusing solely on your credit, they consider alternative data, like:
    • employment
    • income
    • savings patterns
  • Store Credit Cards. These cards have affiliations with specific retailers and often come with tempting discounts for in-store or online purchases. They tend to have more lenient approval criteria, but higher interest rates or fees.
  • Subprime Unsecured Credit Cards. Subprime unsecured cards cater to those with less-than-stellar credit histories. They don't require a security deposit but may come with higher fees or rates.
  • Co-Signer Credit Cards. This is someone who will agree to make the payments on your behalf if you can't make them yourself. However, it's important to remember that if you default on your payments, the co-signer will be responsible for them.

Credit Score 101

What Is A Credit Score?

A credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness. Think of it as a financial report card that lenders, landlords, and even some employers look at. It's determined by factors like payment history, total debt, credit age, and more.
  • A higher score indicates that you're a low-risk borrower, which means you're more likely to repay your loans on time.
  • A lower score indicates that you're a high-risk borrower, which means you're more likely to default on your loans.
The most widely used rating is the FICO score, which ranges from 300 to 850.
Credit Score Range What It Means
300 - 579 (Poor) Individuals with scores in this range might find it challenging to get approved for credit and may face higher interest rates if they do.
580 - 669 (Fair) This is below the average score for US consumers. Approvals may come with added conditions.
670 - 739 (Good)  This group represents the median credit score range. Borrowers usually get standard loan terms.
740 - 799 (Very Good) Individuals in this bracket often enjoy better-than-average interest rates and favorable loan terms.
800  - 850 (Exceptional) The cream of the crop. Borrowers in this range get the best interest rates and premium perks.

What Does It Mean To Build Credit?

Building credit refers to the process of establishing and improving your creditworthiness over time. You can achieve this through a series of responsible financial decisions and behaviors It isn't about having a multitude of credit cards or loans. It's about demonstrating financial responsibility over time. When we talk about "building credit," we're referring to the process of:
  • Establishing a credit history
  • Consistent payments
  • Maintaining a low credit utilization
  • Avoiding negative marks

Why Is It Important To Build A Strong Credit Score?

Your credit score is one of the main pieces of information that financial institutions will use to determine whether they think you are worthy of extending credit.
It determines whether you can rent an apartment, connect utilities to your home and/or business, get good insurance coverage, get a cell phone plan, and obtain a mortgage and/or car loan, for example.
Not only will a better score make you more likely for the lender to approve you for these lines of credit, but your borrowing interest rates will be lower the better your score is. Over the life of a loan, even a small difference in your interest rate can mean hundreds of dollars in savings. If you lack credit or have a lower credit, it may be difficult to build your score up. Over time, though, using a credit card is an effective way to build your credit.

How Do I Improve My Credit Score?

  • Review Your Credit Report Regularly. Mistakes happen! Occasionally, there might be errors on your report that could be pulling down your score. By regularly reviewing your report, you can spot and dispute any inaccuracies. Every individual can access a free annual report from the three major credit bureaus. Make use of it!
  • Establish A History Of On-Time Payments. History matters. Your payment history accounts for a significant portion of your score. Even if it's a minor bill, ensure it's paid on time. Setting up automatic payments or reminders can be a handy tool.
  • Reduce Outstanding Debt. This might seem straightforward, but it's easier said than done. Start by creating a budget, understanding where your money goes, and curbing unnecessary expenses. Prioritize paying off high-interest debts first.
  • Diversify Your Credit Types. The types of credit you have can impact your score. A mix of installment loans (like mortgages or auto loans) and revolving credit (like lines of credit) can be beneficial. However, only take on new credit when it makes financial sense, not just to diversify your mix.
  • Don't Close Old Accounts. Length of credit history plays a role in your score. Closing an old account, even if you're not using it, can reduce the age of your accounts. Keep them open, but be mindful not to rack up unnecessary charges.
  • Limit The Number Of Hard Inquiries. Every time you apply for credit, credit bureaus record the hard inquiry. These can slightly dip your score. While it's okay to shop around for the best rates, try to do so within a short window to minimize the impact.
How long does it take to build credit?

Alternatives To Credit Cards To Build Credit

Credit Builder Loans

Often offered by credit unions and some banks, a credit builder loan is like a reverse loan. Instead of receiving a lump sum upfront, the lender holds the money in a savings account while you make payments. Once the loan term is up, you get access to the funds.

Secured Loans

Secured loans require some form of collateral, such as a car or a certificate of deposit. Since there's less risk for the lender due to the collateral, even those with subpar credit or limited history can often qualify.

Rent Reporting Services

Some services report rent payments to credit bureaus. Not all bureaus consider rent payments, but when they do, it can be a boon for renters aiming to build or repair credit.

Peer-To-Peer (P2P) Loans

P2P platforms connect borrowers with individual lenders, bypassing traditional financial institutions. While the borrowing criteria can be more flexible, these platforms still report to credit bureaus.

Authorized User Status

Do you have a family member or close friend with a good credit card history? They can add you as an authorized user on their account. Even if you never use the card, their good credit habits can reflect positively on your credit. Just ensure they truly have sound financial habits – their missteps would reflect on your profile too.

Personal Loans

While traditionally sought for specific needs or debt consolidation, personal loans can also be tools for credit improvement. Whether obtained from banks, credit unions, or online lenders, consistent repayments of personal loans can foster a favorable credit impression.

Business Loans

For budding entrepreneurs or established business folks, business loans can be more than just a means to fuel their ventures. Whether it's a small business loan or a more extensive commercial one, when you use these loans correctly, they can aid in establishing a robust credit profile. While they predominantly influence your business credit, some lenders might report to personal credit bureaus, especially if you personally guarantee the loan.

Access Capital And Finance Your Business Needs

If you don't have a credit history or would like to strengthen your credit score, you can use any of the previously mentioned credit cards to build credit. But there are other alternatives. If you're an entrepreneur, you can access small business loans that can help you improve your credit. Many business owners prefer loans over credit cards because they offer even more capital. If you need to finance your business while improving your credit score, a loan might be what you need.
At Camino Financial, we offer business loans to a variety of customers.
We live up to our motto of "No Business Left Behind" by providing great lending options as well as educational and information tools from a like-minded group of business owners like yourself. Apply For A Business Loan!  

FAQs

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

Yes, you can. If you have a score of 550 or below, you can apply for secured credit cards.

How can I build my credit fast with a credit card?

Try to keep your credit card use below 30% of your credit limit. And always pay your full balance by the due date.

What is the easiest credit card to get with no credit?

The easiest credit card to get with no credit is the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card. There is no credit check when you apply, so as long as you are 18 years old or older and have enough income to afford your monthly bill payments, you have a great chance of approval.

What is the fastest way to build credit with a credit card?

The fastest way to use a credit card to build credit is by paying the payoff balance in full monthly. Credit scores depend on several factors, but two crucial ones are: how much you owe and how much credit you have available. When you use a credit card and then pay off the balance in full each month, you demonstrate that you can handle debt responsibly. This will help improve your credit score over time.

What are the best credit cards for beginners?

The best credit cards for beginners are typically those with low interest rates and no annual fees. Some of the best include the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and the American Express Gold Card.

How can I raise my credit score by 200 points in 30 days?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to rebuild credit depends on your unique credit history and financial situation. However, some tips include paying your bills on time, maintaining good credit, and using a credit monitoring service.

Can you get approved for a credit card with no credit history?

Yes. Many issuers offer cards specifically tailored for those with little or no credit. Secured cards, as mentioned, are a great option. Additionally, some unsecured cards cater to newcomers. However, the terms of the card may be less favorable than those offered to borrowers with a longer credit history. A co-signer, someone with a good credit score willing to vouch for you, can also help secure approval.

Do authorized users build credit?

Yes. When the primary cardholder maintains good credit habits, such as timely payments and low balances, these positive actions can reflect on the authorized user's credit report. However, any negative actions by the primary cardholder can also impact the authorized user. It's essential that you become authorized on an account with a strong payment history and responsible usage.

Do you need a credit card in order to build credit?

No, you don't necessarily need a credit card to build credit. While credit cards are a common tool for building credit, there are other methods like credit builder loans, secured loans, rent reporting services, and peer-to-peer loans, among others. Consistent, timely payments on any credit product will contribute to a positive credit history.

What can you do if you're denied a credit card?

Remember, a denial isn't the end of the road but a sign indicating areas of improvement. With the right steps, you can pave the way to credit success.
  • Understand the reason
  • Check your credit report
  • Work on improving your credit
  • Consider alternative credit products
  • Reapply wisely

How many credit cards should I have to build credit?

The number of credit cards you need to build credit depends on your individual circumstances. However, a good rule of thumb is to have 2 to 3 credit cards. This will give you a good amount of credit history and help you to improve your credit score.

What are the best store credit cards to build credit?

Some of the best include:
  • Target RedCard
  • Amazon credit card
  • Best Buy credit card
  • JCPenney credit card
  • TJ Maxx
  • Costco credit card
 
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