Best Credit Cards for Young Adults in 2020

Are you a young person on the lookout for the best credit card? Then you’re on the right page! For this article, we’ve compiled a list of the best credit cards for young adults. To make sure we give you all the information you need, we’ve included:

  • Our methodology
  • Reviews
  • Buyer’s guide
  • Tips on using credit cards
  • FAQ.

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Credit Cards for Young Adults — Reviews

1. Citi® Double Cash Card

$0 annual fee

Exclusive access to tickets

Great APR

Best APR

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Citi® Double Cash Card is among the best credit cards for young adults with good credit. You’re getting 18 months of 0% APR, access to special events, and complete protection.

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Requirements

Card Features

Application Process

APR & Fees

2. Wells Fargo Platinum Card

18 months of 0% APR

$0 annual fee

Plenty of benefits

Best for managing your spending

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The best credit cards for young adults aren’t only those with rewards, but those offering plenty of benefits, too. That, the high minimum credit limit, and 0% intro APR were enough for us to feature Wells Fargo Platinum Card on our list.

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Requirements

Card Features

Application Process

APR & Fees

3. Discover it® Student Cash Back

Great cashback rewards

No foreign transfer fee

$0 annual fee

Best cashback rates

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Discover it® Student Cash Back is easily one of the best credit cards for students. The amount of rewards it offers is mind-blowing, there are hardly any fees, and the provider even monitors the Dark Web to protect you from identity fraud.

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Requirements

Card Features

Application Process

APR & Fees

4. Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

Approves students with up to three years of payment history

$0 annual fee

Various cashback rewards

Best cash back categories

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If you’re on the lookout for the best cash back credit cards for young adults, this provider is a good choice. You’re getting various cashback rewards, a focus on safety, and an award-winning mobile app.

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Requirements

Card Features

Application Process

APR & Fees

5. American Express® Green Card

Transferable membership points

Incredible travel benefits

Plenty of other benefits

Best for traveling

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American Express® Green Card is among the best credit cards for millennials who love to travel. By using it for payment, you’re getting membership points you can later transfer to make your travels more affordable and safe.

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Requirements

Card Features

Application Process

APR & Fees

6. Petal 2 Visa® Credit Card

Up to 10% cashback

No fees

Minimum credit score required only 350

Best for bad credit

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Petal 2 Visa® Credit Card is the best credit card for young adults with bad credit. For a low APR, you’ll be able to calculate your interest rate, set a budget, and even freeze your credit card.

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Requirements

Card Features

Application Process

APR & Fees

7. Journey® Student Credit Card from Capital One

$0 annual fee

Not many fees

Those with limited or no credit history are eligible

Best for students with limited or no credit history

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If you’re looking for credit cards for young people with limited/no credit history, give Journey® Student Credit Card from Capital One a shot. As a bonus, you’ll be kept perfectly safe and get certain travel benefits.

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Requirements

Card Features

Application Process

APR & Fees

Our Methodology

Getting your first credit card when you’re young has plenty of benefits regardless of which one you choose. That being said, the ones from our list have certain qualities that help you make the most of the cards. Here’s what we looked at when deciding which ones to feature:

  • Credit card requirements — one huge benefit of online credit cards for young adults is that they help you practice responsibility. But with requirements like minimum credit score or minimum deposit hardly attainable, young people don’t even stand a chance to prove themselves. That’s why our list features credit cards with reasonable minimum credit scores and repayment terms, and don’t ask for a deposit.
  • Application process — all of the credit cards we’ve written about have a quick, straightforward, and intuitive application process.
  • APR and fees — while annual percentage rate (APR) is a necessary part of credit cards for young adults, we looked for those that have set a reasonable interest. On top of that, plenty of these credit cards have 0% APR at least during the first few months. Besides APR, we considered the annual and any other fees to ensure they’re not too high.
  • Notable card features — one of the greatest appeals of credit cards is their bonuses and rewards. To pick the very best credit cards for young adults, we looked for those with impressive cashback rewards and benefits.
  • Customer reviews — finally, we checked customer reviews. After all, it’s one thing to have a credit card company claiming it’s great, but a whole different story to hear it from users.

At a Glance

  • Great APR
  • $0 annual fee
  • Exclusive access to tickets
  • Not many additional benefits
  • Good credit score needed

This unsecured credit card is a great choice for young adults who spend a lot of money on event tickets. By using Citi® Double Cash Card, you’ll get special access to the hottest events, presale tickets, and special experiences.

What’s more, it has no annual fee and belongs to the group of low-interest credit cards for young adults. Within the first 18 months, the APR is 0%. After that, the standard variable APR is as little as 13.99%, depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. There is no annual fee, while other fees include:

  • Cash advance — The greater of $10 and 5% of every advance
  • Balance transfer — The greater of $5 and 3% of every transfer
  • Foreign transfer — 3% of the U.S. dollar equivalent of each purchase
  • Late payment — Up to $40 (first late payment has no fee)
  • Returned payment — Up to $40

Besides giving you access to tickets via Citi Entertainment®, this is also among the best first credit cards in 2020 in terms of safety. You’re getting a $0 liability for unauthorized charges, identity theft solutions, lost wallet assistance, and 24-hour fraud protection.

Finally, the rewards program gives you 2% back on every single purchase, regardless of the category. Once you earn $25, you can convert them to points or redeem them as a direct deposit, statement credit, or check.

APR Intro APR: 0% within 18 months of first transfer for balance transfers

Standard APR: 13.99% — 23.99%

Annual Fee $0
Minimum Credit Limit $500
Minimum Credit Score 740

At a Glance

  • $0 annual fee
  • 18 months of 0% APR
  • Plenty of benefits
  • No rewards
  • Second card may not be eligible for introductory APR

Wells Fargo’s unsecured credit card provides a simple way for young adults to manage their spending via specialized tools. And though there are no free credit reports, you get free access to your FICO score.

When you first get the Wells Fargo Platinum Card, your introductory APR is 0% for 18 months. Depending on your creditworthiness, what is one of the best credit cards for millennials has a standard variable APR of minimum 16.49%. There is no annual fee, but there are some fees that not every provider has:

  • Cash advance — The greater of $10 and 5% of every advance
  • Balance transfer — The greater of $5 and 3% of every transfer
  • Foreign transfer — 3% of the U.S. dollar equivalent of every purchase
  • Overdraft protection advances:
  • $12.50 if the daily total is $50 or less
  • $20 if it’s greater
  • Late/Returned payment — Up to $37

However, these fees exist due to an enormous amount of benefits and extra services, especially if you’re looking for travel credit cards for young adults. Some of the travel-related benefits include accident insurance, roadside dispatch, and emergency assistance services. You also get up to $600 in cell phone protection, zero liability, and overdraft protection, as well as emergency card replacement.

This list of benefits (that’s not even complete!) should be enough to compensate for the lack of a reward program.

APR Intro APR: 0% within 18 months of opening an account

Standard APR: 16.49% — 24.49%

Annual Fee $0
Minimum Credit Limit $1,000
Minimum Credit Score 700

At a Glance

  • $0 annual fee
  • Great cashback rewards
  • No foreign transfer fee
  • Cash rewards are largely category-based
  • Somewhat high balance transfer

This unsecured credit card offers high cashback rewards, though it only does so for certain categories each quarter. If you shop in another category, though, you still get 1% cashback. You can also get statement credit with good grades or by referring this card to a friend.

The introductory APR is 0% for six months, while the standard variable APR is 19.99%. Discover it® Student Cash Back is among the credit cards for young adults with no annual fee, and one interchange fee you won’t have to worry about either is the foreign transfer fee. The only two rates are:

  • Cash advance — The greater of $10 and 5% of every advance
  • Balance transfer — 3% of the transfer by December 10, 2020, 5% after that
  • Late/Returned payment — Up to $40 (no late fee for the first late payment)

The low fees are coupled with plenty of benefits. Free FICO score access, Dark Web monitoring for the use of your SSN, the option to freeze your account, and overnight replacements in the U.S. come on top of a useful mobile app.

Discover it® Student Cash Back is among the best cash back credit cards for young adults. If you shop in a certain category during the right quarter, you get 5% of your cashback. Some of the categories include Amazon.com, grocery stores, and restaurants. What you earn through cashback is automatically doubled at the end of the year. Finally, you get a $20 statement credit if your GPA is 3.0, and $50 if you refer a friend.

APR Intro APR: 0% for six months

Standard APR: 19.99%

Annual Fee $0
Minimum Credit Limit $500
Minimum Credit Score 630

At a Glance

  • $0 annual fee
  • Various cashback rewards
  • Approves students with up to three years of payment history
  • 1% cashback after the first $2,500
  • A lot of fees

With this unsecured credit card, users get various cashback rewards, and there’s no defined minimum credit limit. After spending at least $1,000 within 90 days of opening an account, you’ll be rewarded with a $200 bonus.

We can’t mention the best credit cards for students and not talk about Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students. Not only is the APR for the first 12 billing cycles 0%, but the standard variable APR is also 13.99%, and there’s no annual fee. The fees include:

  • Cash advance
  • The greater of $5 and 3% of each transfer for direct deposit and cash check
  • $12 for overdraft protection cash advance
  • The greater of $5 and 5% for the rest
  • Balance transfer — The greater of $10 and 3% of every transfer
  • Foreign transfer — 3% of the U.S. dollar equivalent of every purchase
  • Purchase of a wire transfer — The greater of $10 and 5% of every transaction
  • Late payment — Up to $40
  • Returned payment — Up to $29

The minimum length of credit history is no issue as these credit cards were designed for young people with limited or no credit history. Some of the benefits you’re getting are a $0 liability guarantee, optional overdraft protection, and an award-winning mobile app. You can also get alerts about due payments.

Each month, you choose the category which gets you 3% cashback, while wholesale clubs and grocery stores bring 2% cashback. Most credit cards for young adults reviews, however, warn that after spending $2,500, all future purchases only bring 1% cashback. Once you have at least $25, you can redeem money for statement credits, deposits, or credit to an eligible account.

APR Intro APR: 0% during 12 billing cycles

Standard APR: 13.99% — 23.99%

Annual Fee $0
Minimum Credit Limit
Minimum Credit Score 620

At a Glance

  • Incredible travel benefits
  • Transferable membership points
  • Plenty of other benefits
  • $150 annual fee
  • No Intro APR

American Express® Green Card takes the cake when it comes to travel benefits. Thanks to easy ways to earn membership points, you can both save money and stay safe.

Because of the number of benefits, it’s only expected this unsecured credit card would have higher operating costs than its competitors. One of the best airline credit cards for young people has a standard variable APR starting from 15.99%, and an annual fee of $150. Other fees include:

  • Cash advance — The greater of $10 and 5% of every advance
  • Plan fee — Up to 1.33% of every purchase moved into a plan
  • Late/Returned payment — Up to $40.

All the fees you’d be paying are more than worth the benefits. For traveling, here’s what you’re getting:

  • $100 credit for lounge access
  • Up to $100 a year with CLEAR membership
  • Insurance for:
    • Trip delay
    • Baggage
    • Car rental loss and damage
  • Paying with Membership Points on Amextravel.com

This is one of the best credit cards for young couples who love traveling. And there are plenty of other benefits, too:

  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty
  • Entertainment access
  • Split purchases

When it comes to rewards, you can catch an exclusive offer to earn 20% back and up to $200 in statement credits by using this card in U.S. supermarkets within the first six months of membership. By the end of 2020, you can also get up to $10 a month by purchasing wireless phone services directly from U.S. service providers. But that’s not the only reason we think some of the best rewards on credit cards for young adults can be found here. By using your card at restaurants and on transit, you’re getting three transferable membership points per dollar. For any other purchases, you’re getting one membership point for each dollar.

APR Standard APR: 15.99% — 22.99%
Annual Fee $150
Minimum Credit Limit
Minimum Credit Score 750

At a Glance

  • No fees
  • Up to 10% cashback
  • Minimum credit score required only 350
  • Not as many benefits/extra features as some of the competitors
  • No intro APR

If you have a bad credit score but still want to apply for a credit card, this unsecured credit card is the right choice. Anyone with a credit score of at least 350 is eligible, and for many, this is also the best first credit card to build credit.

Petal 2 Visa® Credit Card has a standard variable APR of 12.99%. And not only is that a low APR, but there are also no other fees whatsoever.

One of the many benefits is that WebBank, the issuing bank, is a member of the FDIC. You’ll be able to know exactly how big an interest you’ll be paying, thanks to a payment calculator. The mobile app further allows you to track your credit score, set a budget for easier management, and even freeze your card in case it goes missing.

Petal 2 Visa® Credit Card is among the best credit cards for young adults looking for cashback rewards. By purchasing at chosen merchants, you’re getting 2%-10% cashback. For any other purchase, you start with a 1% cashback. After six months of paying on time, it grows to 1.25%. If you pay on time for 12 months, rewards grow to 1.5% cashback. Once you get to $20, you can redeem cash for either check or credit statement.

APR Standard APR: 12.99% — 26.99%
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Credit Limit $500
Minimum Credit Score 350

At a Glance

  • Those with limited or no credit history are eligible
  • $0 annual fee
  • Not many fees
  • High APR
  • No intro APR

Journey® Student Credit Card from Capital One provides its users with top-notch safety. Another great thing about this unsecured credit card is that in just five months, you can get a higher credit line by paying on time.

While the APR is relatively high at 26.99%, when it comes to limited or no credit history, it’s one of the best credit cards for young adults. As for fees, there aren’t many of them. The annual fee is $0, and the only fees are:

  • Cash advance — The greater of $10 and 3% of the advance amount, and
  • Late payment — Up to $39

There are plenty of benefits for your safety if you go with this credit card. For one, you get alerts for suspicious charges, while CreditWise alerts you when TransUnion or Experian report changes to your credit score. You can use virtual card numbers to protect your credit card online. It’s also among the credit cards for young adults with no annual fee that provide travel benefits like:

  • Travel accident insurance
  • Travel assistance for 24 hours
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver.

Extended warranty and $0 fraud liability are also included.

As for rewards, they start with 1% cashback for all purchases and grow up to 1.25% a month if you pay on time.

APR Standard APR: 26.99%
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Credit Limit Limited credit history
Minimum Credit Score 630

Application Process

Applying for credit cards for young adults is a fairly straightforward process. Whichever credit card you go for, you’ll need to provide some basic information. However, that shouldn’t be your first step. Here’s how it should go:

  • Compare your options. Look closely at the credit card requirements of each provider you’re considering. Make sure your credit score is good enough to apply, but also ensure what the credit card offers fulfills your needs. Once you’ve found the best choice, you can start the application process.
  • Provide some basic information. The best credit cards for young adults in 2020 usually allow the entire application process to be finished online. Some of the information you’ll need to provide is:
    • Basic personal information (name, date of birth, Social Security Number)
    • Housing situation and how long you’ve lived there
    • Gross annual income
    • Date and signature.

Once you provide that information, all that’s left to do is wait for the credit card provider to make a decision.

How To Choose A Credit Card — Guide

Choosing the right credit card for yourself is no easy task. The top credit cards for young professionals aren’t the same credit cards someone with bad credit would be checking out. To find the credit card you’ll benefit the most from, these are the things you should be considering:

  • Purpose

Are you looking to save on your purchases? In that case, look for credit cards offering good cash back options. If you’re looking to save on travels and stay insured during your trip, you’ll be choosing a different credit card. Or maybe you’re looking for the best credit cards for young adults building credit? Depending on what your main goal is, you’ll choose one provider over the other.

  • Income threshold

While there’s no official income threshold on getting a credit card, debt-to-income plays a role in how high your credit card limit will be. To give you some perspective, a good annual income for a credit card is considered to be over $31,000 for an individual and over $61,000 for a household. If you’re anywhere below that, look for credit card providers with lighter requirements.

  • Bank requirements

Find a bank whose minimum credit score is the same as or below yours. If you’re looking for the best credit cards for young adults with excellent credit, but have only good credit, you’re likely wasting your time. On the other hand, if you go for a bank asking for a credit score a lot lower than yours, you’ll probably not be getting as good a deal as you could. Also, if not getting a hard credit check every time you apply is important to you, find providers who offer prequalification or preapproval.

  • Annual fees

Many credit cards don’t have an annual fee. But if you happen to like one of the online credit cards for young adults that do, make sure it’s a fee you’re comfortable with. Also, ensure that the rewards and benefits you’re getting provide enough value for the money you’re paying.

  • Rewards/Bonuses

Plenty of companies offer young adults rewards like cash back or membership points. Some do it for purchases, and others do it for various things such as good grades. If you’re looking to save money while shopping, choose credit card companies that provide such rewards.

  • Additional perks and advantages

There are even more benefits you can expect by choosing the right credit card. Some of them include exclusive access to events, insurance, free access to your credit score, warranty extension.

Tips for Getting The Most Of Your Credit Card

Whether you’ve found the perfect no deposit credit cards for young adults, or ones that give great rewards, that is not enough. You need to know how to make the most of it, and here are some tips:

  • Understand what credit cards are.

You need to keep in mind that the money you’re spending with a credit card isn’t your own — you’re borrowing money from a credit card issuer. And though different providers have a different acquiring bank and varying types of interests, one thing is a constant. If you can’t keep up with payments, you’ll likely end up with huge interest expenses.

  • Use it responsibly.

Even if you find the best credit cards for young adults with good credit, unless you can use one responsibly, you won’t achieve much. So not only should you pay your loans off on time to avoid high interest expenses, but you should also do it to improve your credit score. By being late with payments, even if they become charge offs, you’re ruining your credit score and worsening the chances of getting the best rates on things like mortgages or car insurance in the future.

  • Be careful.

Protect your credit card information both online and offline. Online, use two-factor authentication, and if possible, get additional protection from the provider. Sometimes, if you’re focused on finding fast approval credit cards for young adults, it’s easy to neglect this step, but you shouldn’t. As for offline protection, make sure not to leave your direct mail sitting in the mailbox. The information that’s written on it is often enough for someone to open a credit card in your name.

  • Choose the credit card that reflects your needs.

Not every credit card was created equal, and not all are perfect for everyone. If you’re looking to build a credit score, choose a credit card that helps you do that quickly. Should you want to lower traveling expenses, get a credit card provider offering those options. Finally, APRs vary widely, so if you’re on the lookout for low-interest credit cards for young adults, pay close attention to interest expenses a certain provider has set.

Key Takeouts

The younger you are when you first get a credit card, the sooner you can learn to be responsible about it, and the sooner you’ll start building credit. By using a credit card, not only are you showing future lenders you can pay them back on time, you’re getting plenty of benefits as well. Some of those include insurance, access to certain events, more affordable traveling, etc. Finally, credit card providers offer you ways to get your cashback — by spending money, you’re making it. Just make sure you don’t go over your limit, otherwise, the payment network may be unable to process your request.

So whether you’re looking for travel credit cards for young adults, unsecured or secured, with cashback rewards or a high minimum credit limit, the principle is the same. Find what fits your needs, be responsible about it, and enjoy everything credit cards have to offer.

FAQ

What is the best credit card for young adults?

This largely depends on why you’re getting one. One credit card may be the best when it comes to buying tickets, while the other has the best cashback rewards. Generally, the best credit card for you is the one that meets your needs regarding the purpose, fees, limits…

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

Every credit card from our list is great for beginners. However, the best ones are those with a low credit card minimum and low APR. That allows you to start slow and practice using a credit card responsibly. And even if you make some mistakes, low APR means you won’t be paying as much as you could.

What is the best credit card for a 21-year-old?

If you’re looking for the best credit cards for young adults who just turned 21, you won’t go wrong with any card from our list. Your choice should mainly depend on what you need it for, what kind of APR and fees you’re comfortable with, what your credit score is, etc.