These Are the Best Credit Cards That Can Help Beginners Build Credit Faster

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Even if you have no credit history, or made mistakes with credit in the past, there are plenty of credit card options that can put you on track to a great credit score.

If you pay your balance in full and on time each month, a credit card can help you improve your score with a positive payment history. That’s because credit card issuers report your payments to each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). 

But some of our favorite credit-building options take these credit building benefits even further, by offering extra incentives for responsible credit use. Most commonly, these benefits come in the form of automatic reviews for the chance to upgrade your card or earn a credit limit increase after a certain number of on-time payments.

Here are a few of our favorite cards with these built-in perks for credit-building, along with some best practices for using credit to improve your score: 

Editorial Independence

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

The Best Cards with a Built-In Path to Higher Credit 

Discover it Secured Credit Card

Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.7/5)
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.7/5)
  • Intro offer:
    Cashback Match™
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    25.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    (No Credit History)
Rewards rate:

Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Build credit, even with limited credit history
  • Automatic monthly account reviews after 7 months to determine if you qualify for a refunded deposit
  • Earn rewards on your spending
Cons
  • Requires security deposit (minimum $200)
  • High APR
The Bottom Line
With a valuable cash back rewards program, the Discover it Secured credit card stands apart from many other credit-building secured cards. Along with the standard features of a secured credit card — a refundable cash security deposit and payment reporting to the three credit bureaus to help you build credit — the Discover it Secured credit card gives users a way to build their credit and earn cash back rates typically only available with rewards cards that require higher credit scores.

Additional Card Details

  • Cashback Match first-year bonus: Discover will automatically match all the rewards you earn at the end of your first year
  • Refundable security deposit between $200 and $2,500 required, which will act as your credit limit
  • Automatic review your account after seven months to determine if you’re eligible to get your deposit back and upgraded to an unsecured card

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card requires a cash security deposit of at least $200 (and up to $2,500), which acts as your line of credit. After seven months, Discover automatically reviews your account to determine whether you’re eligible to upgrade to an unsecured credit card or get a refund on your deposit. This card also doesn’t require credit history — which is perfect for beginners. 

The Discover it Secured Credit Card also lets you earn rewards while building credit. You can earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, Discover’s Cashback Match offer lets you double your rewards at the end of your first year. 

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Like many secured credit cards, the Capital One Platinum Secured Card doesn’t come with rewards or perks. However, you can increase your line of credit with automatic reviews in as little as six months, and earn the chance to upgrade to an unsecured card and get your deposit back with responsible use.  

This card requires a refundable security deposit of $49, $99, or $200 — you’ll be assigned the minimum deposit when you’re approved, and will get a starting credit limit of $200. You can also deposit up to $1,000 for a larger credit line.

[READ MORE: Capital One Platinum Secured Card vs. Discover it Secured Card]

BankAmericard Secured Credit Card

BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card
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BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.3/5)
Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site.
BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    None
  • Regular APR:
    24.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    (No Credit History)

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No annual fee
  • Establish and build credit
  • Can deposit up to $4,900 for a higher credit limit
Cons
  • No intro offer or rewards
  • Must deposit at least $300 upon account opening
  • High variable APR
The Bottom Line
The BankAmericard Secured* offers you the chance to secure a larger credit line than many other secured card options — up to $4,900. A higher credit line is useful for building credit because you can keep a lower credit utilization ratio while enjoying more spending power (as long as you don’t spend more than you can afford to pay off). You’ll need to have that cash on hand, though. Your maximum credit limit will be determined by the amount of security deposit you give, your income, and other personal factors. If you provide a deposit with your application that exceeds the maximum line that Bank of America is willing to provide you, you’ll receive a check for the difference.

Additional Card Details

  • Minimum security deposit of $300 (maximum up to $4,900)
  • Periodic account review to determine if you’re eligible to have your deposit returned
  • Secured card available to people with no credit
  • Account alerts and FICO credit score access
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

With the BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card, Bank of America will periodically review your account and credit history to determine if you’re eligible for your deposit to be refunded. The card requires a minimum security deposit of $300, though you can deposit up to $4,900. Your credit limit will be determined by your deposit, income, and ability to pay. 

Even though the card doesn’t come with rewards, you can earn a $100 statement credit after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. 

Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit
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Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit
Editor’s Score: (2.7/5)
Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site. See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply.
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit
Editor’s Score: (2.7/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $75 for the first year. After that, $99 annually ($8.25 per month)
  • Regular APR:
    26.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    300-670 (Bad to Fair)
Rewards rate:

Earn 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV services. Terms apply.

With the Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit*, you can build credit while earning rewards. You’ll have a minimum credit line of at least $300 when you’re approved. But Credit One Bank will also regularly review your account to see if you’re eligible for a credit line increase. 

And you’ll get 1% cash back on everyday purchases — including gas, groceries, and your monthly mobile phone, internet, cable, and satellite TV services.

Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card

Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card
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Petal® 1
Editor’s Score: (3.3/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Petal’s secure site.
Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    22.24% – 31.74% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    (No Credit History)

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No annual fee
  • Earn rewards with select merchants
  • Petal looks at more than credit score for approval decision
  • Prequalification option
Cons
  • No ongoing rewards categories
  • High APR
  • Credit limit could be as low as $500
The Bottom Line
The Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card issued by WebBank is best for people looking to build credit for the first time or who may have had trouble getting approved for other unsecured credit cards in the past. Petal’s alternative approval option — based on a “Cash Score” using your banking info — can help you qualify even with little credit history. Just steer clear of this card’s high APR by paying your balances in full every month.

Additional Card Details

  • Get prequalified without a hard inquiry on your credit report
  • Qualify for a credit line increase after six months of on-time payments and maintaining a predetermined credit score range
  • Earn 2% to 10% cash back (when applicable) with select merchants through Petal Offers
  • Get approved based on more than your credit score — Petal considers banking information you provide within your application
  • 22.24% – 31.74% variable APR

With the Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card, you may qualify for a credit line increase after making six months of on-time payments. The card doesn’t require a security deposit, and Petal will use “Cash Score” to determine your approval based on banking information you provide in your application — even if you don’t have credit history. Plus, you can get prequalified for this card without a hard credit inquiry. 

[READ MORE: Petal 1 Visa Card vs. Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card, issued by WebBank]

How to Build Credit with a Credit Card

Credit cards are helpful for building credit because you can use them to build up a positive payment history — the most influential factor in your credit score. To do this, focus on charging only purchases that you can afford to pay in full when your bill is due and paying on time each month. 

Your credit utilization ratio — or the amount of credit you use compared to your overall available credit — is the second-most influential factor. Experts recommend keeping this ratio below 30% for the best chances of improving your score.  

For instance, use a starter card like a secured credit card or — if you can qualify — an unsecured card for building credit to pay for groceries, gas, and other everyday expenses. Track your spending as you go or keep an eye on your balance so you don’t spend more than your budget allows or get too close to your credit limit, and then make sure to pay the balance in full and on time each month. If you choose a card with a built-in path to higher credit, not only will this help you improve your score over time, but can also prove to your issuer that you’re prepared for a limit increase or card upgrade.

Practicing these healthy credit habits while you’re building your score can also put you in a great position to maintain a good credit score and credit history over the long term, even as you can qualify for cards with more lucrative rewards and benefits. 

“One of the nice things about credit cards is you’re certainly not limited to just one,” says Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, which like NextAdvisor is owned by Red Ventures. “Even if you just have one to start out, oftentimes what we tell people is don’t close the old accounts. It actually makes sense to leave it open from a longevity and utilization standpoint.”

Rossman says by practicing these good credit habits, many people will see an improvement in their score in six to 12 months.

Using Cards with a Built In Path to Higher Credit

In addition to establishing good credit habits like paying your bill on time each month and keeping your credit utilization ratio low, credit-building incentives can potentially help you build credit even faster. 

If you’re looking for a beginner card for credit-building, there are two common ways that credit card issuers may reward you for using your credit card wisely and paying your bill on time each month. 

First, your issuer may review your account after a designated period to determine whether you’re eligible for a credit line increase. This is beneficial for credit-building because it can help lower your credit utilization ratio. A higher credit line means you’ll have more flexibility as you spend to stay below the recommended 30%. For example, if you start with a credit line of $200, you’d reach 30% credit utilization after spending just $60 per month. But if you qualify for an increased credit line of $1,000, you can spend $300 before reaching the threshold. 

Just make sure you don’t use an increased credit limit as an excuse to overspend — it’s still important to spend only what you can afford to pay down each month to both increase your credit and avoid high-interest debts.

If you have a secured credit card to help you repair your credit, you may be eligible to upgrade to an unsecured card after a certain number of months of responsible credit use, which often includes paying your bills in full and on time. These upgrades can differ, depending on the card and issuer. Sometimes, you may be offered an unsecured version of the same card, which typically means the only change will be receiving your security deposit back. But in some cases, you may get the option to upgrade to a card with more rewards and perks. Even after you upgrade to an unsecured credit card, though, it’s still important to practice good credit habits — like paying your bill in full and on-time each month, and keeping an eye on your credit utilization ratio.

Learn More externa link icon
Petal® 1

Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card

Editor’s Score: (3.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    22.24% – 31.74% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit:
    (No Credit History)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Petal’s secure site
Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Editor’s Score: (3.7/5)
  • Intro offer:
    Cashback Match™
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    25.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    (No Credit History)

*All information about the BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card and Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit has been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.