[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
When Americans turn 18, they are considered adults under the law. That means that they can vote and be tried as an adult, but it’s also the first time that they are able to apply for a credit card account in their own name, though they’ll have to jump through a few hoops first.
Under the CARD Act of 2009, no credit card may be issued to a consumer under the age of 21, unless they have a co-signer who has the means to repay the debts or they can prove they independently can repay the debt.
The problem is that teenagers by their very nature have little or no credit history. (You can see if you’re considered “scoreable” by checking your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) Nevertheless, some credit card issuers are so eager to acquire new customers in this age group, that they can offer cards specifically tailored to their limited credit profiles. These cards for teens and young adults will have lower requirements, in exchange for fewer rewards and higher interest rates than those offered to the general market.
So here are five credit cards, none of which charge an annual fee, that are just right for teens, students and other young adults.
Discover it® Student chrome
- Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
- 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter - no sign-ups needed. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
- Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
- No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
- Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
- Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
- Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
- 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.49% - 23.49%.
Card Details +
This card offers 2% cash back on all dining and as purchases, on up to $1,000 spent each quarter, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. In addition, Discover will waive a cardholder’s first late payment fee, and there is never any penalty interest rate applied. New cardholders will also receive 0% APR promotional financing for six months, then 14.49% - 23.49% Variable on purchases & balance transfers after that.
Other benefits include a free FICO credit score on monthly statements, online, and in their mobile app. In addition, the Discover card maintains an excellent reputation for customer service.
2. BankAmericard Credit Card for Students
This card offers new applicants 0% APR promotional financing on new purchases for 15 months, and a standard interest rate of 10.99% to 20.99%. Otherwise, this is a fairly simple card from a major retail bank, so young adults have the opportunity to conveniently manage all of their accounts in one place.
3. Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa Card
Wells Fargo offers this student card that features 3% cash back on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for their first six months card membership. After that, cardholders earn 1% cash back on all purchases. An innovative benefit is a cellular telephone protection program which offers up to $600 of coverage against covered damage or theft at no cost except for a $25 deductible. The coverage is effective so long as you use your Wells Fargo credit card to pay for your service bill.
This card features 1% cash back on all purchases, plus a 25% bonus on the cash back each month when cardholders pay their balances on time. Further, cardholders receive a higher line of credit after they make their first five monthly payments on time, as part of Capital One’s Credit Step program. There is no a foreign transaction fee on this or any other Capital One credit card.
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
- Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 7 months on purchases from date of account opening; after that the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24% based upon your creditworthiness*
- Earn 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- 2,500 ThankYou® Points are redeemable for $25 in gift cards, electronics and other great rewards when redeemed at thankyou.com
- Earn 2X Points on Dining Out & Entertainment
- Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases
- No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
- No annual fee*
Card Details +
New cardholders earn 2,500 bonus ThankYou points after making $500 in purchases within three months of account opening. Cardholders also receive double points for dining and restaurant purchases, plus one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Points are worth about one cent each toward a variety of merchandise, gift card, and travel options. New cardholders also receive an APR of 0% for 7 months on purchases promotional financing on new purchases, and a standard rate of 16.24% - 26.24%* (Variable) after that.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
At publishing time, the Discover it Student chrome, Capital One Journey Student Rewards card and Citi ThankYou Preferred Card For College Students are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
More on Credit Cards:
- The Credit.com Credit Card Learning Center
- 6 Smart Credit Card Strategies
- Tips for Paying Off Credit Card Debt