Utilizing a starter bank card is a standard approach to construct credit score while you’re first establishing your self financially. In terms of starter credit cards, there are two important sorts:

As with all types of bank cards, there isn’t one which’s the “finest” — only one that’s the perfect for you, given your circumstances. Listed below are some components to contemplate as you determine between a pupil bank card and a secured bank card.

Pupil bank cards

The applying necessities of pupil bank cards can create some roadblocks for anybody who’s constructing credit score for the primary time. Typically, it’s essential be an enrolled pupil to use for a pupil bank card. Additionally they require you to have a supply of independent income or a co-signer for those who’re youthful than 21. Some pupil playing cards might solely be open to candidates who have already got some credit score historical past.

Nerd tip: For those who’re 21 or older, you may embrace not solely impartial revenue in your bank card software, but in addition different revenue to which you might have a “affordable expectation of entry,” like a partner or associate’s revenue.

Nonetheless, a student credit card generally is a good match for candidates who qualify. Constructing your credit score historical past throughout your pupil years may help you afterward, while you hire an condo, take out a automobile mortgage or apply for a mortgage.


  • No safety deposit required. Not like secured credit cards, you wouldn’t have to place down a deposit. In case your software is accepted, you’re granted a credit score restrict, and it would not hinge on any form of upfront collateral.

  • No annual payment. Many pupil bank cards cost no annual payment, which retains the price of holding the cardboard low. That’s useful while you’re first beginning out and cash could also be tight.

  • Money-back rewards. Some pupil playing cards supply rewards packages that earn money again each time you utilize your card. It’s like utilizing a coupon everytime you store, however with out all of the work.

  • Pupil-friendly advantages. Some pupil playing cards include perks like bonus money again for those who preserve a sure grade-point common or a free Amazon Prime Pupil membership for a yr.

  • Choices for worldwide college students. Some pupil playing cards permit you to apply even for those who don’t have a Social Security number. That is particularly useful for worldwide college students who’re attempting to ascertain a U.S. credit score historical past.


  • Impartial revenue required. For those who’re youthful than 21, it’s essential to have impartial revenue to qualify for a pupil card. This could current a hardship for college students who aren’t working whereas they’re at school.

  • Will be tougher to qualify for. It is a bit of a paradox. To qualify for a card designed for folks simply getting began with credit score, it’s possible you’ll want some credit score historical past. For those who’re new to constructing credit score, there are different choices, together with secured bank cards.

Secured bank cards

For those who’re not a pupil otherwise you don’t have a supply of impartial revenue, you may nonetheless construct credit score by using a secured credit card. They operate a bit in a different way from unsecured playing cards, together with pupil playing cards, since you make a money deposit, which generally turns into your credit score restrict. This layer limits the cardboard issuer’s threat of accepting candidates with unhealthy, skinny or nonexistent credit score information.


  • Simpler to get. You’ll be able to qualify for a secured card even when you’ve got little to no credit score historical past or a below-average credit historical past. Some secured playing cards even course of your software with no credit score examine, which spares you a hard credit inquiry and the accompanying short-term ding to your credit score scores at a time when each level counts.

  • Potential improve path. After a number of months of accountable use, some secured playing cards will enhance your credit score restrict or graduate you to an unsecured card.


  • Safety deposit required. You have to make a deposit, which often turns into your credit score restrict. A deposit of $200 or extra is widespread. You get the deposit again for those who shut the account in good standing or for those who improve to a standard unsecured card. However developing with that cash upfront may be difficult.

  • Annual charges are widespread. No-fee secured playing cards exist, however they have an inclination to cost larger rates of interest. For those who go for a secured card that expenses an annual payment, you’ll have to account for that price in your finances because you’ll even be paying the preliminary deposit.

  • Chances are you’ll want a checking account. For those who don’t have a standard checking account you could faucet into to fund the deposit, you’ll be restricted through which secured playing cards you may select. There are a number of accessible that may settle for deposits within the type of wire transfers or cash orders.

  • Most don’t supply rewards. With a number of exceptions, secured playing cards don’t have a tendency to supply rewards packages. However over time, with accountable card use, you’ll qualify for different playing cards with strong rewards.

Nerd tip: Constructing your credit score historical past is the entire level of a starter bank card, so be certain the coed or secured card of your alternative studies your account exercise to the three main credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

Options for constructing credit score

Turning into an authorized user on another person’s bank card is one other approach to construct credit score. Nevertheless it requires belief and good communication. The first cardholder is answerable for all expenses made to their account, together with ones you make, so set a finances with them. Moreover, their account exercise can have an effect on your credit score for higher or for worse, so ensure you pair up with somebody with strong credit score habits.

You may also think about so-called alternative credit cards, most of which do not require a deposit — and a few of which do not rely solely on the standard FICO scoring mannequin. As a substitute, they’ll consider your creditworthiness primarily based on components like how a lot cash you make, the place you’re employed and what your checking account balances are.


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