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22 of the Best Credit Cards for 18 Year Olds in 2022

Whether you want to build credit, are seeking financial independence, or just like the convenience of paying with plastic, there are dozens of credit cards for 18-year-olds. If you’re just starting, take a look at our quick-start credit card guide for the basics.

This article will show you:

  • More than 20 of the best credit cards for 18-year-olds
  • Tips on getting the most out of each card
  • How to get a credit card at 18

Best Credit Card for Building Your Credit Score With No Credit History

Best Credit Cards for 18 Year Olds (With No Credit History)Top Pick–Tomo Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • 0% APR forever
  • 1% cash back on every purchase
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus 
  • Auto-pay feature

Why We Love It

You can apply for a Tomo card with no credit history, or with a low score. After linking your bank accounts, you’ll get a credit limit that you can afford and that works for you.

A nifty Auto-pay feature means you don’t have to worry about missing any payments, which is a huge plus if you’re trying to build credit. A lot of cards offer these features, and it’s something to look out for. A big difference with Tomo, though, is its offers of great rewards through partners like DoorDash, HelloFresh, and Lyft.

Before we show you our next pick, we need a quick explainer. You’re about to see a bunch of cards with “secured” in the title, but you may not have heard that term before.

What is a Secured Credit Card?

Secured credit cards use a security deposit as a basis for providing credit. The provider asks you to provide a lump sum before approving their card. Your credit limit is determined by the size of that deposit. 

That means you can’t spend more than you can afford

Great idea, right? It takes a lot of worry out of using credit for the first time. And, using a secured card counts toward building your credit history, like any other card. If that’s your goal, check out other ways of building your credit before committing to a card.

Now that’s out the way, let’s jump back in with the best credit cards for 18-year-olds with no credit history.

Sable ONE Secured Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • 6.99% variable APR
  • 2% cash back at selected merchants and 1% on all other purchases
  • Report to all three major credit bureaus

Why We Like It

Like Tomo, Sable offers a new take on credit cards.

With this card, you set your credit limit. Sounds crazy, but with a Sable card, you set a budget with the size of the security deposit you want to make. The really good part is there’s no minimum amount, so you can start wherever you’re comfortable and work your way up.

You can apply with no credit, and with Sable’s Graduation Program you could level up to an unsecured card in as little as four months. They promise a unique take on data reporting, which can help eighteen-year-olds build their credit score quickly. Sable has some great cash-back rewards with selected merchants like Spotify, Netflix, and Uber. Did I mention their card glows in the dark too? 

Discover It Secured Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • 25.24% variable APR
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, plus 1% on all other purchases
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus
  • Security deposit starting from $200

Why We Like It

Unlike other secured cards, Discover offers some good cash-back rewards. It has a higher APR, but that’s an issue with secured cards across the board. With Discover, you can view your FICO score for free, useful for keeping an eye on your credit score.

You’ll have to make a security deposit, but with an automatic review after seven months you could move to an unsecured card if you keep up with your payments.

Petal 2 Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • 15.24% – 29.24% variable APR
  • 1% – 1.5% cash back, plus 2% – 10% at selected merchants
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus
  • Minimum credit limit of $300

Why We Like It

The Petal 2 was designed to help young people who are new to credit. Perfect for eighteen-year-olds. It has features that let you set a budget and track your spending and a great app that easily allows you to view your credit score, keep an eye on payments and find nearby cash-back opportunities.  

BankAmericard Secured Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • 24.24% variable APR
  • A security deposit between $200 – $5000
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus

Why We Like It

Bank of America’s secured card can be a good place to start for anyone with bad credit.

Your credit limit is determined by your security deposit, making this an affordable way to build credit without worrying about missed payments. As with some other cards, you can view your FICO score for free too.

If you’re starting out, you can take advantage of Bank of America’s credit education program to learn how to manage your finances. Trust me, a little learning can go a long way here. 

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card 

  • No annual fee
  • 26.99% variable APR
  • Minimum deposits start from $49
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus
  • Auto-pay feature

Why We Like It

With one of the lowest security deposits, this card can be great for eighteen-year-olds on a tight budget who want to build their credit. You can start with a $200 credit limit, or boost that up to $1,000. Like other cards for building credit, you can keep track of your score for free, this time by using Capital One’s own CreditWise.

Citi Secured Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • 24.74% variable APR
  • Security deposits between $200 and $2,500
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus
  • Auto-pay feature

Why We Like It

Citi has designed this card to suit those trying to rebuild their credit. This includes young people with no credit history.

It’s more basic than some of the other cards we’ve featured, but it can be great for young people wanting to build their credit score without worrying about creating unmanageable debt. That’s down to the $2,500 credit limit, a good idea for people not used to using credit cards who might overspend.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

  • $35 annual fee
  • 20.39% variable APR
  • $200 minimum security deposit
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus

Why We Like It 

You can apply for an OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card without a credit check, meaning that as long as you can afford the $200 minimum deposit, you’re much more likely to be accepted with a bad or limited credit history.

You can view your FICO score for free, and the flexible payment dates make this card a good choice for eighteen-year-olds who want to build credit with no credit history.


Apply Now for an Open Sky Card

 

Best Credit Cards for Cash Back and Rewards

Top Pick–Capital One SavorOne Rewards for Students

  • No annual fee
  • 16.49% – 26.49% variable APR
  • Unlimited 3% cash back on entertainment, dining, streaming, and more
  • 8% cash back on event tickets with VividSeats
  • $100 cash bonus within first three months
  • Redeem your cash back for hard cash

Why We Love It

With great cash-back offers on ticket and seat prices through Capital One, this student card can help you make the most of college. There’s the option to redeem your cash back for cash, which makes this card one of the most flexible.

To qualify, you’ll have to prove you’re enrolled, but after the college application process that should be a piece of cake.

Discover It Student Cash Back

  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR for six months, then 15.24%–24.24% variable APR
  • 5% cash back on purchases at Amazon and through PayPal
  • 5% cash back on groceries and at gas stations, 1% on all other purchases

Why We Like It

Discover’s Unlimited cash back Match means that you’ll end your first year with double the number of rewards that you’ve earned, and you can also redeem your rewards for hard cash.

You don’t need a credit score to apply, so it’s a good choice for students looking to build credit and earn rewards at the same time.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months, then 17.24%–25.99% variable APR
  • 3% cash back on dining and takeout, up to 5% on gas station purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases
  • $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

With a $200 bonus after spending just $500, this Chase credit card will give your teenage coffers a big boost. That’s not to mention the great cash-back rewards you could earn.

This card offers good cash back at gas stations and on takeout, a pretty impressive combination if you’re 18 (or 19 or 20). 

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards for Students

  • No annual fees
  • 0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles, then 16.24%–26.24% variable APR
  • 3% cash back in a category of your choice, 1% on all other purchases
  • $200 cash bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days

Why We Like It

Choosing how you earn cash back is a great idea and can maximize your rewards. Pick between categories like gas, dining, and drug store spending and earn 3% on your purchases.

Perfect for new students who want to dine off campus, or face a long drive home at Thanksgiving.

U.S. Bank Altitude Go Secured Card 

  • No annual fee
  • 28.99% variable APR
  • Earn points up to four times your spending
  • $300–$5,000 security deposit
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus

Why We Like It

The Altitude Go lets you build your credit while earning redeemable points, so it’s a little different. Unlike straight cash back, these points can be traded in for offers in travel, merchandise, or even as cash off your purchases. I

f you’re eighteen and without a credit history, this card offers a bit more variety in rewards than the standard secured card, but it has a higher deposit and APR that can’t match some others in that category.

American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card

  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months, then 16.99%–27.99% variable APR
  • 3% cash back on groceries, online purchases, and gas, 1% cash back on everything else

Why We Like It

If you’re an avid streamer (and what eighteen-year-old isn’t?) getting this card can net you $7 back on a Disney bundle, including Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN.

The everyday spending rewards are pretty great too, with opportunities to earn in lots of places. Even better, you don’t have to be a student to apply.

Best Credit Cards for Going to College

Top Pick–Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students

  • No annual fee
  • 20.99% variable APR
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • One year of Amazon Prime Student after spending $500

Why We Love It

Aside from the awesome deal on Amazon Prime Student, this credit card is the only one made specifically with international students in mind.

You don’t need a Social Security Number to apply, so if you’re new to the country as well as college, this gives you the freedom to spend like your fellow freshmen.

Chase Freedom Student

  • No annual fee
  • 17.24% variable APR
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • $50 bonus after the first purchase within three months

Why We Like It

Not content with a $50 bonus, Chase is offering an extra $20 every year for five years if your account is in good standing. Students can easily earn an increase in their limit, too, just by making five on-time payments in the first ten months. 

Sallie Mae Ignite Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR for 6 months, then 15.24%–27.24% variable APR
  • $50 bonus after spending $250 in the first three months
  • 25% cash back bonus after six on-time payments

Why We Like It

The Ignite card doesn’t just encourage you to keep up your payments, it rewards you for it. As well as the bonus offers, you can earn 1% cash back on every purchase. It’s a little on the low side, but Sallie Mae is tailored toward helping students reach financial goals.

For all you eighteen-year-old freshmen, it’s a bit like having an extra mom to monitor your finances.

Discover It Student Chrome

  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR for 6 months, then 15.24% to 24.24% variable APR
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, 1% on everything else

As with other Discover cards, the major benefit here is in the rewards. If you’re often the designated driver on the way to the game, take the chance to earn some rewards at the pump.

You won’t need a credit score or history to apply, which might be why this card is popular with students looking to build credit. 

Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro for 18 billing cycles, then 16.24%–26.24% variable APR
  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus offer, after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days

Why We Like It

Spending $1,000 in your first three months of school will be terrifyingly easy, so why not make the most of it and earn some bonus cash? You can earn unlimited cash back, but at 1.5% it’s lower than other providers are offering. Still, with free access to your FICO score, you can ramp up your credit score and have access to better deals in no time.

Best Credit Cards for Travel Rewards

This… is a little trickier. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many travel reward cards geared toward eighteen-year-olds or even students. Unless it’s something that you need, we suggest looking above for some better deals on first-time credit cards.

Top Pick–Discover It Miles

  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months, then 14.24%–25.24% variable APR
  • Earn 1.5 miles for every dollar you spend
  • Double your miles with Unlimited Mile Match

Why We Love It

If you want to go further, this is the card. Discover guarantees to match your reward miles at the end of your first year, and you can redeem these against a ton of travel purchases, from hotel rooms to airline tickets. If you don’t have a license yet, you can even use them to pay for public transport.

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles, then 16.24%–26.24% variable APR
  • 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

Why We Like It

How do 25,000 bonus points sound? Well, if you spend $1,000 in your first three months you’ll earn enough points to get a $250 statement credit toward travel.

With students in mind, eighteen-year-olds will have a great chance to qualify, and no foreign transaction fees make this card ideal for that summer vacation to Europe.

Capital One QuicksilverOne

  • $39 annual fee
  • 26.99% variable APR
  • 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases

Why We Like It

If you’re planning on traveling a lot, then you want to consider the Quicksilver One card. It doesn’t have the travel perks offered by the Quicksilver card, but once you’ve built your credit score, leveling up will be a lot easier. Until then, you can make use of Capital One Travel’s promise of cheap hotel rooms, and earn some cashback at the same time.

Best Credit Cards for 19-Year-Olds and 20-Year-Olds

If you’re older (or planning ahead) you might already want to know what the best second credit cards are (as long as you’ve paid off your first). Most of our recommendations above would suit you, but there are some extra credit cards to think about if you’ve already built a good credit score.

Fix Credit Score FastCapital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • $0 annual fee
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months, then 17.99%-27.99% variable APR
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • $200 new card member offer

Why We Like It

The big brother to our recommended Quicksilver One card.

You need an excellent credit score to apply, but if traveling is your thing, this is a very good card to have in your pocket. With travel accident insurance and 24-hour travel assistance, you can jet off with peace of mind.

Add to that the complimentary concierge service for personalized help wherever you are, and this is a great second credit card after you’ve built up your score.

Citi Double Cash Credit Card

  • $0 annual fees
  • 0% intro APR for 18 months, then 16.99%-26.99% variable APR
  • 2% cash back on every purchase, in every category with no cap

Why We Like It

You don’t have to pick a category or plan your spending to earn with this card from Citi.

A lot of cards offer 1% cash back on purchases, but with the Double Cash card, you earn 1% on buying and another 1% when you pay your bill. That gives you plenty of motivation to keep paying on time and improve your credit further.

You can even get your rewards back as cash, either by check or direct deposit. If you’re looking for a second credit card and to boost your balance, this is a good choice.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • $95 annual fee
  • 18.99%-25.99% variable APR
  • 3x points dining out 5x points using Lyft, 1x points everywhere else
  • 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months

Why We Like It

Another card that uses points rather than cashback. If you have a very good credit score, and you’re a big spender, upgrading to this card might work out great. You can earn in a lot of categories that you might spend a lot on already.

You get travel insurance benefits too, and the 60,000 bonus welcome points can be redeemed for hotels and airfare. A drawback is the high annual fee, but you can offset this by strategically using all those points.

Citi Simplicity Card

  • $0 annual fee
  • 0% Intro APR for 21 months, then 16.99%-27.74% variable APR

Why We Like It

This has to be the most basic card on our list, but it’s one of the most interesting too. As well as a long 0% intro APR period, this card promises no late fees or penalties, ever.

This is a no-frills card, with no rewards on offer. If your biggest concern is saving money and having peace of mind as you build credit, this might be a good choice. 

How to Get a Credit Card at 18

Now that we’ve shown you the best cards out there, it’s time to learn how to get them.

The Credit CARD Act (2009) (the fun Congress has with acronyms) has a clause that stops anyone under twenty-one from solely applying for a credit card. It’s a measure designed to make sure young consumers don’t put themselves into debt they can’t afford, and a way to make sure card companies can get their money back. 

So how do you get approved for a credit card at 18? 

1. Get a co-signer

Having a ‘co-signer’ means asking someone that’s twenty-one or older to accept liability if you don’t pay your bill.

The card will be yours alone, and you’ll get all the nice credit-building perks and rewards. However, if you don’t pay, your co-signer will have to—and it’ll still have an adverse effect on your credit history.

do you need a credit card2. Become an authorized user

A different route from getting a co-signer.

As an authorized user, you can join a card that someone else already has. You’ll be named separately on the account and aren’t solely liable for the bills. You’d still have access to the rewards if you get permission from the main account holder and call the provider.

If you want to go this route, make sure that the card reports data separately for different users. That way you’ll build your credit.

3. Fill in your application

Applying online is as simple as clicking the “apply now” button on your chosen card’s webpage. That’ll open up your application form. To fill it in, you’re going to want a few documents ready.

These will be:

  • Your monthly income and expenses
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your mailing address and phone number
  • Employment details 
  • Details for your co-signer

After that, you wait. And probably wait some more. The checks and process can take a little while, but you’ll know if you’re approved or not soon.

What to Look For in Your First Credit Card

Pay attention to the Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

APR is a form of interest you’ll pay if you carry a balance from month to month. The lower, the better. Most of the cards we’ve selected have a 0% APR for at least the first year.

Be sure to look for any annual fees

We’ve made sure most of the cards below have no fees attached, but if you aren’t careful, you could be adding more to your bill than you need to.

Have a look at your credit report. 

If you’ve already been making payments for a cell phone or on a student loan, you’ll have a credit score that might help you get a card. If not, you might need to build credit first or think about getting a secured credit card.

Dig into cash-back and rewards.

This can be anything from money off gas to offers on dining out. Cards designed for younger people and students can offer some great rewards when spending. Shop around and find the best deals to suit your lifestyle.

Getting a Credit Card at 18 – My Closing Note

There is no right card out there, but there is a right card for you

Consider what your primary goal is: build credit, get money from cash back, or take a reliable card to college. Most likely, it’ll be a mixture of those reasons and more. 

Once you’ve picked your card, got your co-signer lined up, filled in your application, and you’re ready to spend, take one last piece of advice. 

Do not go into debt. Don’t spend more than you can afford, always make your payments on time, and pay down your credit card well before you hit your limits. If you find you’re going down that road, take a look at our guides to pay card debt off before it gets too bad. There’s also this handy (and free) credit card pay-off calculator, in case you need it now or in the future. 

Okay, I’ll put the lecturing voice away. Now get out there and (responsibly) spend! 

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AUTHOR Tom Quinn

Tom has worked in and around finances for most of his working life, from financial customer service to fraud prevention. He now writes in the personal finance arena, working to demystify money for the world.

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