The Best Credit Cards for Young Adults

For young adults, applying for a starter credit card is an excellent way to open and build your credit history. Building credit is an important part of young adulthood, but finding the right credit card means thinking about how you plan to use it. Whether you’re a student, newly turned of age, or looking to rebuild trust after a bad experience with credit, there is a credit card for young adults to meet your needs.

Finding the best credit card for young adults for your spending needs means reading reviews, studying product features, and diving into the ins and outs of available options and interest rates. With the right credit card for young adults, you can easily build your credit history and improve your credit score.

We reviewed dozens of credit cards for young adults to identify the best of the best, based on CreditCards.com reviews, how easy they were to apply for and use, cost, and other considerations. We narrowed our search down to 5 of the top-rated credit cards young adults can apply for to ensure a healthy and good start to their credit history.

Best Credit Card for Young Adults Overall
Discover it® Cash Back

Earn cash back on everyday spending with no limit to how much you can earn.

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We’ve identified Discover it® Cash Back as the best credit card for young adults out there. With the ability to earn cash back on daily spending, and with no limit to how much you can earn, this credit card for young adults is one that will keep your budget and spending on track. These benefits allow you to make important purchases, while building and improving your credit score over time.

The 5 Top-Rated Credit Cards for Young Adults

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best Credit Card for Young Adults OverallDiscover it® Cash Back 4.1
Best Credit Card for Young Adults With Cash BackCapital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card4.8
Best No-Fee Credit Card for Young AdultsCiti® Double Cash Card4.6
Best Credit Card for Professional Young AdultsAmerican Express® Green Card3.0
Best Credit Card for Young Adults Who Are StudentsDiscover it® Student Cash Back 4.2

*Ratings are from CreditCards.com at the time of publication and can change

Best Credit Card for Young Adults Overall: Discover it® Cash Back

The Discover it® Cash Back took the top spot on our list of the best credit cards for young adults and offers valuable cashback on all daily purchases. There is no limit to how much you can earn, and it provides 5% cashback for rotating categories up to $1,500 each quarter after activation. At the end of the first year, Discover will match the cash back earned automatically for even more value. Rewards never expire, can be redeemed at any amount, and can even be used at Amazon.com checkout.

Those who applied for and reviewed this credit card for young adults appreciated that there were no foreign transaction fees, and that it included zero fraud liability for added peace of mind. People found the cashback rewards to be quite generous, especially since the card has a $0 annual fee.

With an annual fee of $0, the price is certainly right, and the quality customer service associated with the brand, as well as the ease of application and use more than justifies opening an account. It has a rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars on CreditCards.com with more than 26,000 people reviewing it, which we think goes a long way in convincing young adults to make the application.

Discover it® Cash Back Key Features:

  • Introductory balance transfer and purchase APR of 0% for 14 months
  • Variable APR of 11.99%-22.99%
  • Mobile pay ready

Best Credit Card for Young Adults With Cash Back: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best Credit Card for Young Adults With Cash Back
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Unlimited 4% cashback on dining & entertainment, plus a $300 cash bonus.

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The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card took the runner-up spot on our list of the best credit cards for young adults and offers plenty of rewards for those who want to get the most out of life. Cardholders earn cashback on ticket purchase, streaming service purchases, dining and entertainment, and grocery store purchases.

Those who applied for and reviewed this credit card for young adults appreciated that there was no limit to the number of cashback rewards they could earn and that rewards don’t expire for the life of the account. People also liked that they could redeem any amount at any time with no penalty.

With an annual fee of $95, it doesn’t come cheap, but the generous rewards, as well as the quality customer service associated with the brand, more than justifies that price. It has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on CreditCards.com with thousands of people reviewing it, which we think goes a long way in convincing young adults to make the application.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card Key Features:

  • Annual fee of $95
  • Sign-up bonus of $300 if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • Variable APR of 15.99-24.99%

Best No-Fee Credit Card for Young Adults: Citi® Double Cash Card

Best No-Fee Credit Card for Young Adults
Citi® Double Cash Card

No annual fee and no limit on cashback earned.

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The Citi® Double Cash Card is an excellent choice for those looking for a credit card for young adults that won’t break the bank and offers limits of upwards of $50,000. It boasts no annual fee and offers a variable APR of 13.99%-23.99%. Cardholders can earn 2% on every purchase, with unlimited 1% cashback at the time of purchase, and an additional 1% as payments are made. Applicants can take advantage of a 0% APR for 18 months on all balance transfers.

Those who hold and reviewed this credit card for young adults appreciated that it offered a pretty generous cashback scheme, especially considering there’s no annual fee to use it. People found it easy enough to apply for this card but would have liked it even better if it came with a sign-up bonus.

With an annual fee of $0, this credit card for young adults is a solid choice for those looking for a credit card for young adults on a budget. It has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars from more than 15,000 cardmembers, which we think goes a long way in convincing young adults that this budget-friendly pick is just as good at keeping their credit on track as its more expensive counterparts.

Citi® Double Cash Card Key Features:

  • Free credit score report
  • Mobile pay ready
  • Exclusive access to presale event tickets

Best Credit Card for Professional Young Adults: American Express® Green Card

Best Credit Card for Professional Young Adults
American Express® Green Card

A solid choice for travel-minded cardholders.

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The American Express® Green Card is an excellent option for those looking for a credit card for young adults, especially those who expect some travel in their line of work. It offers 3X the points on travel, transit, and restaurants, with no foreign transaction fees. There is no limit to the number of points you can earn, and you can even transfer your points to a variety of travel partners, including Delta Airlines, British Airways, and Hilton.

Those who hold and reviewed this credit card for young adults appreciated that there was 24/7 customer service support and that it was Google App and Apple Pay compatible with contactless mobile payments.

With an annual fee of $150, it doesn’t come cheap, but the quality customer service associated with the brand, as well as the ease of application and travel benefits more than justifies that price. It has a rating of 3.0 out of 5 stars on CreditCards.com with thousands of people reviewing it, which we think goes a long way in convincing professional young adults to make the application.

American Express® Green Card Key Features:

  • Annual fee of $150
  • Credits of up to $100 annually for CLEAR and LoungeBuddy
  • Sign-up bonus of 45,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months

Best Credit Card for Young Adults Who Are Students: Discover it® Student Cash Back

Best Credit Card for Young Adults Who Are Students
Discover it® Student Cash Back

Rewards are the same as Discover it® Cash Back, but no credit history is required.

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The Discover it® Student Cash Back is a solid choice for those wanting a credit card for young adults, as it offers all the same rewards of the Discover it® Cash Back credit card, but with no credit history required. The company is currently offering a cashback matching incentive to all new applicants, where they will match all the cashback earned at the end of the first year, automatically, with no limit to how much is matched.

Those who applied for and reviewed this credit card for young adults appreciated that the card offered a cash bonus for good grades and that they could easily redeem rewards at any amount. The card also offers free overnight replacement in case of loss or theft, and identity alerts to help protect your account.

With no annual fee and a decent interest rate, the quality service associated with the brand, as well as the ease of setup and use more than justifies that price. It has a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars on CreditCards.com from more than 1,000 people, which we think goes a long way in convincing young adults to make the application.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Key Features:

  • Free Social Security number alerts
  • Access to FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements
  • Regular APR 12.99%-21.99% variable

Who Should Apply for a Credit Card for Young Adults

A credit card for young adults is an ideal choice for those who are making the transition from school or their parents’ home into the “real world.” A credit card for young adults can be a valuable tool for learning how to manage money, and also helps young adults to build a credit history, so that when they want to make a larger purchase such as a car or a house, they have proven their creditworthiness to lenders.

Additionally, a credit card for young adults is also a good choice for students, as it allows them to build their credit history while making necessary purchases related to their education. With many of the most rewarding credit cards just out of reach of those who are new applicants, applying for the right credit card for young adults can make the entire process less stressful.

If you plan on soul-searching abroad while you’re young, you may also want to consider The Best Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees.

Best Credit Card for Young Adults Overall
Discover it® Cash Back

Earn cash back on everyday spending with no limit to how much you can earn.

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Important Features to Consider

Not all credit cards for young adults are created equal. A credit card for young adults should be easy to apply for and offer the credit you need. Here’s what to consider when evaluating the options in search of the best credit card for young adults for your financial needs:

  • Bonus features. Many credit cards for young adults include bonus features that make them more appealing to users, such as cashback, travel points, free-spending tracking apps, extended warranties, travel insurance, or fraud protection. Review a card’s additional features to see if there are any that would be beneficial to your personal situation.
  • Annual fee. The first thing to consider when searching for the best credit card for young adults is the annual fee. Cards with annual fees tend to have lower APRs, which make borrowing more affordable. Cards with low or no annual fees often carry higher APRs, but as long as you are making payments in full and on time, they can still be a good option if you don’t want the hassle of annual fees. Credit cards for young adults can vary in price from $0-$100 or more annually, although some cards with cashback can easily pay for themselves depending on how much you use them.
  • Card type. Once you’ve decided if you want a card with or without an annual fee, you’ll need to decide if you want a Visa, MasterCard, Discover Card, or AmEx. Not all merchants accept each of these cards, so if there’s somewhere you plan to use your card regularly, you’ll want to make sure you can make purchases without hassle.
  • Credit limit. Another important factor when it comes to choosing a credit card for young adults is how much credit you can actually get. Some cards offer really low starting limits of $100, while others start at $500 and up. Look for a card that suits your spending needs and habits.
  • Regular APR. A card’s regular APR will determine how much interest you are charged each month. Cards with lower APRs make borrowing more affordable, but they sometimes come with annual fees. Cards with low or no annual fees often carry higher APRs, but as long as you are making payments in full and on time, they can still be a good option.
  • Introductory APR. Some credit cards for young adults offer an introductory APR (annual purchase rate) that is much lower than the regular APR. If you have several big purchases coming up and want to keep the cost of borrowing low, a card with an introductory APR offer might be a good option. There are some cards that also offer a promotional balance transfer APR, which can make transferring a balance from another card to the new card a smart choice, as long as you can make the payments responsibly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best credit card for someone just starting out?

The best credit card for someone just starting out is one that provides enough credit to meet their needs while building a credit history and has a low-interest rate. Other credit card benefits those who are just starting out should look for include cashback rewards, no annual fee, and zero fraud liability. If you have bad or no credit history, you might find the best credit card is one that is secured — meaning you’ve put down a deposit in order to use the card. Many people find this motivating to make their payments on time. This can also help you (re)establish your credit history in order to qualify for a better credit card or interest rate.

Should young adults get credit cards?

For most young adults, getting a credit card can be a valuable tool for learning how to manage money as they transition from school or their parents’ home into the “real world.” It also helps young adults to build a credit history, so that when they want to make a larger purchase such as a car or a house, they have proven their trustworthiness with credit to lenders, and can more easily qualify.

How can I quickly raise my credit score?

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for quickly raising your credit score — it takes time and patience, as well as consistently paying off your balance. The first step to raising your credit score is to open a credit account. Once you’ve opened an account and begun using your new credit card, you will need to make regular payments on time. Pay off as much of your balance as you can each month. Keeping your credit utilization low, ideally below 30%, is another best practice. Avoid applying for multiple cards in a short period of time, and be sure to keep your accounts open so you don’t lose any history you’ve built for yourself. It takes at least 6 months to generate a FICO score, which is why it’s important to remember that building a healthy credit score is a long game and not a short-term goal.

How can I make sure I get approved for a credit card?

You can make sure you get approved for a credit card by always making sure you pay at least your minimum payment on time, using 30% or less of your available credit, and paying down your debts. This will help you to keep your credit score high, which factors into whether or not you’ll be approved for a credit card. Other factors that influence your chances of approval for a credit card include your monthly income, monthly expenses, and any assets you hold.

Other Credit Cards for Young Adults We Reviewed

Best Credit Card for Young Adults Overall
Discover it® Cash Back

Earn cash back on everyday spending with no limit to how much you can earn.

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We looked at 20 other credit cards for young adults. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best credit cards for young adults list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for young borrowers. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

No-Fee Credit Cards for Young Adults

Milestone® Gold Mastercard®

Milestone Gold Mastercard

This no-fee credit card for young adults features a quick and easy pre-qualification option that won’t impact your credit score, and the option to choose a custom card design.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 24.90% fixed
  • Free online account access
  • Fraud protection in case of loss or theft

Cost: from $0 annually

Citi Rewards+℠ Card

Citi Rewards+℠ Card

This no-fee credit card for young adults lets users earn 2X ThankYou® Points at supermarkets and gas stations on their first $6,000 of charges per year, and then 1X points thereafter.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 13.49% – 23.49% variable
  • Introductory balance transfer and purchase APR 0% for 15 months
  • Signup bonus worth $150

Cost: $0 annually

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

This no-fee credit card for young adults features a quick and easy pre-qualification option that won’t impact your credit score, and is suitable for those with previous bankruptcy.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 24.90% fixed
  • Free, mobile-friendly online account access
  • Extended warranty program

Cost: from $0 annually

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

This no-fee credit card for young adults offers all the credit building benefits of a regular card, with a minimum security deposit of $49, $99, or $200.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 26.99% variable
  • Balance transfer fee $0
  • Builds credit when used responsibly

Cost: $0 annually

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

This no-fee credit card for young adults boasts monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus, with the ability to check your FICO score for free once it’s available.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 22.49% variable
  • Minimum security deposit of $200 is required
  • Flexible payment due dates

Cost: $0 annually

Credit Cards for Young Adults With Cash Back

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

This credit card for young adults with cashback offers 3% cashback on gas or a choice of one of five other popular categories, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% on everything else.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 13.99-23.99% variable
  • Includes $0 fraud liability
  • Intro APR of 0% for 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers

Cost: $0 annually

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card

This credit card for young adults with cashback lets you earn an introductory cashback rate of 3% on all purchases in the first 12 months, up to the first $10,000 in purchases.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 12.99%, 16.99%, or 22.99% variable
  • Introductory balance transfer APR 0% for 12 months
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cost: $0 annually

Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa

Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa

This credit card for young adults with cashback offers unlimited 1% cash back rewards on all purchases and includes no annual fee plus a competitive interest rate.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 23.99% variable
  • Includes $0 fraud liability
  • Earn 5% cashback rewards on the first $5,000 of eligible purchases

Cost: $0-$99 annually

ABOC Platinum Rewards Card

ABOC Platinum Rewards Card

This credit card for young adults with cashback offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, with no upper limit on the points you can accumulate.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 12.9%-22.9% variable
  • $150 credit after making $1,200 in purchases within the first 90 days
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cost: $0 annually

U.S. Bank Cash 365™ American Express® Card

U.S. Bank Cash 365™ American Express® Card

This credit card for young adults with cashback provides unlimited 1.5% cashback on all eligible net purchases, with no minimum redemption when redeeming to checking, savings, or money market accounts, or as a statement credit.

Key Features:

  • Access to FlexControl budgeting tools
  • Spend analysis online reporting
  • Return, retail, and extended warranty protection

Cost: $0 annually

Credit Cards for Professional Young Adults

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card

This credit card for professional young adults lets users earn 3X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 2X Bonvoy points on other travel purchases, and 1X point on everything else.

Key Features:

  • No annual fee
  • 15 elite night credits
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cost: $0 annually

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

This credit card for professional young adults lets you earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on all purchases, with a $150 cash rewards bonus when you make $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 14.49%-24.99% variable
  • Introductory balance transfer and purchase APR 0% for 15 months
  • Cash rewards do not expire

Cost: $0 annually

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

This credit card for professional young adults offers an introductory purchase APR of 0% for 15 months, with a $200 signup bonus offer after you make $1,000 in purchases during the first 3 months.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 13.99%-23.99% variable
  • Earn 1%-3% cashback on all purchases
  • Includes purchase protection and zero fraud liability

Cost: $0 annually

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

This credit card for professional young adults includes 100,000 Hilton Honors bonus points if you make $1,000 in purchases during the first three months.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 15.74%-24.74% variable
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Fraud protection

Cost: $0 annually

Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®

This credit card for professional young adults allows users to earn 1%-5% cashback on everyday purchases and includes a signup bonus of $200 after you make $500 in purchases during the first 3 months.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 14.99%-23.74% variable
  • Introductory balance transfer and purchase APR 0% for 15 months
  • Free credit score updated weekly

Cost: $0 annually

Credit Cards for Young Adults Who Are Students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

This credit card for young adults who are students offers 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases and features a maximum credit limit of $5,000.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 18.74% variable
  • Free Amazon Prime Student subscription
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cost: $0 annually

Discover it® Student Chrome

Discover it® Student Chrome

This credit card for young adults who are students is an excellent choice for those looking to build credit history and features an introductory cashback matching bonus on all the cashback earned at the end of the first year.

Key Features:

  • Good grade bonus
  • Free Social Security number alerts
  • Regular APR 12.99%-21.99% variable

Cost: $0 annual fee

State Farm® Student Visa® Credit Card

State Farm® Student Visa® Credit Card

This credit card for young adults who are students lets users earn 1 State Farm Loyalty Rewards® point for every $2 spent on eligible purchases, and includes several student discounts provided by Visa.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 14.24%-24.24% variable
  • Earn 3 points for every $1 spent on insurance premium payments
  • 0% introductory rate for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers

Cost: $0 annually

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

This credit card for young adults who are students allows cardholders to earn 1% cashback on all purchases, with a 0.25% bonus for paying off the balance on time each month.

Key Features:

  • Regular APR 26.99% variable
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you

Cost: $0 annually

Suncrest Bank College Real Rewards Visa Signature® Credit Card

Suncrest Bank College Real Rewards Visa Signature® Credit Card

This credit card for young adults who are students offers 1.5 points for every eligible net $1 spent, with no cap or limit on the number of points that can be earned.

Key Features:

  • 2,500 bonus rewards points awarded after first purchase
  • Introductory APR of 0% for first 6 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers
  • Regular APR 13.99% -22.99% variable

Cost: $0 annually

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