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Best Credit Cards for 18 Year Olds to Build Credit of February 2024

While there’s no shortage of credit cards aimed at 18-year-olds, given the sheer number of options available, picking the right one can seem overwhelming. This is no one-size-fits-all situation, meaning the credit card that works for your best friend may not suit you. It all depends on one’s needs and situation. In this article, we’ll give you the details on the top credit cards for 18-year-olds, so that you can make an informed decision.

By Hanna Volkava
Updated February 22, 2024

Best Credit Cards for 18 year old in February 2024

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Capital One Platinum Credit Card best for Without SSN

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Platinum Mastercard Capital One
Annual fee:
$0
Regular APR:
30.74% Variable
Our Rating:
2.84
scorer
Credit score
Fair (580-669)
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    30.74% Variable
  • Issuer name:
    Capital One
  • Details:

    Get the credit you need with Platinum Mastercard® from Capital One.

    Enjoy unlimited access to your credit score and tools to help you monitor your credit profile with CreditWise from Capital One.

    You're also covered by $0 Fraud Liability if your card is ever lost or stolen.

  • Pros:
    • Chance to get a higher credit limit
    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Platinum Mastercard benefits
    • No Penalty APR for late payments
    • Get approval with a fair credit score
  • Cons:
    • High Regular APR
    • No rewards
    • No sign-up bonus
    • You don’t get to enjoy a reduced introductory rate
  • Benefits:
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees;
    • $0 Fraud Liability;
    • ATM Location Services;
    • Emergency Card Replacement;
    • Autopay;
    • 24/7 Customer Service.
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Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card best for Fair credit

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QuicksilverOne Capital One
Annual fee:
$39 annually
Regular APR:
30.74% Variable
Our Rating:
3.58
scorer
Credit score
Fair to Good (580-739)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    30.74% Variable
  • Issuer name:
    Capital One
  • Details:

    The QuicksilverOne Credit Card from Capital One gives you 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase. The Card has an annual fee of $39.

    The QuicksilverOne Card has an APR of 30.74% Variable. Balance Transfer Fee: 4% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account. None for balances transferred at the Transfer APR.

  • Pros:
    • Unlimited high rewards rate
    • Average credit score required
    • Automatically considered for a higher credit line after 6 months
    • No foreign transaction fees
  • Cons:
    • Annual fee
    • High APR
    • No bonus rewards categories
  • Benefits:
    • 1.5% Cash Back;
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees;
    • Autopay;
    • $0 Fraud Liability;
    • Card Lock;
    • ATM Location Services.
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Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card best for Single mom, Without SSN

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Secured Mastercard® Capital One
Annual fee:
$0
Regular APR:
30.74% Variable
Our Rating:
2.37
scorer
Credit score
No Credit History to Poor (0-579)
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    30.74% Variable
  • Issuer name:
    Capital One
  • Details:

    The Secured Mastercard® from Capital One is for people who want to improve their credit scores. The Card has no annual fee. It requires a security deposit when you’re approved.

    The card's APR is 30.74% (Variable). Balance transfer fee: 4% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account at a promotional APR. None for balances transferred at the Transfer APR.

    You’ll get access to CreditWise® from Capital One, which will automatically alert you to changes on your TransUnion or Experian credit reports.

    The Secured Mastercard from Capital One comes with a surprising number of travel perks, including no foreign transaction fees, travel accident insurance, 24-hour travel assistance services and secondary auto rental coverage.

    Cardholders will also receive extended warranty coverage for items purchased that already come with a manufacturer’s warranty.

  • Pros:
    • Low initial deposit amount of $49, $99, or $200
    • You can increase the credit line up to $1000
    • No annual fee
    • Automatic credit line reviews
    • Credit building
  • Cons:
    • High APR
    • Low credit limit
    • No rewards program
  • Benefits:
    • $0 Fraud Liability;
    • Refundable Deposit;
    • Capital One CreditWise;
    • Eno®, your Capital One assistant;
    • Virtual Card Numbers from Eno;
    • Emergency Card Replacement;
    • ATM Location Services;
    • MasterRental Coverage;
    • 24/7 Customer Service.
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Synovus Bank First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
Annual fee:
$39 annually
Regular APR:
19.24% Variable
Our Rating:
1.75
scorer
Credit score
No Credit History to Poor (0-579)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • 1% Cash Back rewards on payments made to your First Latitude Secured credit card account.
  • Issuer name:
    Synovus Bank
  • Details:

    First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is a full-feature Platinum Mastercard® with a credit line based on a security deposit rather than on a credit score.

    The Card earns 1% Cash Back rewards on payments made to your credit card account.

    The First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card charges an annual fee of $39 annually. The APR for Purchases is 19.24% (25.24% for cash advances). These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

    Read full review

  • Pros:
    • Available to people with limited credit history
  • Cons:
    • Foreign Transaction Fee
    • Balance transfers are not available
  • Benefits:
    • 1% Cash Back rewards on payments made to your First Latitude Secured credit card account;
    • Minimum refundable deposit of $200.00 up to $2,000.00*;
    • Reports Monthly to All 3 Consumer Credit Bureaus to Establish Credit History;
    • Quick and Easy Online Application.
View all First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card details
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On Synovus Bank‘s site
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Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card best for 18 year old

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Gold Preferred® Secured Visa® Applied Bank
Annual fee:
$48 annually
Regular APR:
9.99% Fixed
Our Rating:
4.23
scorer
Credit score
No Credit History to Poor (0-579)
    • Issuer name:
      Applied Bank®
    • Details:

      The Applied Bank® Secured Visa® features a fixed-rate 9.99% APR on purchases.

      The Applied Bank® Gold Preferred® Secured Visa® Card charges several fees in addition to the $48 annual fee. Fees include an up to $38 late payment fee, an up to $38 returned payment fee, a $30 stop payment fee, a $12.95 fee for each optional payment, a $30 fee for additional or replacement cards a $50 reinstatement fee, and a 3% foreign transaction fee.

      Read full review

    • Pros:
      • Extremely low regular APR
      • No penalty rate
      • Guaranteed approval
      • Increase your credit limit
    • Cons:
      • No rewards system
      • A lot of fees
      • Can’t upgrade to an unsecured credit card
      • No grace period
    • Benefits:
      • Reports to All Three National Credit Bureaus;
      • Zero Fraud Liability;
      • Refundable Security Deposit;
      • Global acceptance;
      • Emergency card replacement and cash disbursement.
    View all Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card details
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    On Applied Bank®‘s site
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    First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Synovus Bank
    Annual fee:
    $49 annually
    Regular APR:
    15.24% Variable
    Our Rating:
    3.8
    scorer
    Credit score
    No Credit History to Fair (0-669)
    • Rewards Rate:
      • 1% Cash Back rewards on payments.
    • Issuer name:
      Synovus Bank
    • Details:

      The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is a secured credit card for people with a limited credit history.

      The Card earns 1% Cash Back rewards on payments.

      The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® comes with an annual fee of $49. The card's APR: 15.24% (Variable for purchases), 24.24% (Variable for cash advances).

      Read full review

    • Pros:
      • Low APR for Purchases
      • No Minimum Credit Score Required
      • Reports to Three Major Credit Bureaus
      • Suitable Range of Credit Limit
    • Cons:
      • High Annual Fee
      • High Transaction Fees on Cash Advance
      • High Penalty Fees
      • Foreign Transaction Fees
    • Benefits:
      • 1% Cash Back rewards on payments;
      • Accepted Nationwide;
      • No Minimum Credit Score;
      • No Credit History Required.
    View all First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured details
    Apply now
    On First Progress’s site
    Card detail
    Apply now
    Secured Mastercard® Merrick Bank
    Annual fee:
    $36 for first year. Billed $3 per month thereafter
    Regular APR:
    22.70% Variable
    Our Rating:
    3.2
    scorer
    Credit score
    No Credit History to Poor (0-579)
      • Issuer name:
        Merrick Bank
      • Details:

        The Merrick Bank Secured Mastercard® credit card is a card designed for building or rebuilding credit. The cardholder’s initial credit line will be equal to the amount of their security deposit, which can be between $200 and $3,000.

        The Annual Fee is $36 the first year. Billed $3 dollars per month thereafter.

        The Card's APR: 22.70% Variable for purchases.

        The Secured Mastercard® credit card reports to all three major credit bureaus.

        Read full review

      • Pros:
        • Up to $3000 credit limit
        • Reports to three major credit bureaus
        • You don’t need a bank account to apply
        • Access to FICO score
        • Low APR
      • Cons:
        • No rewards or intro offers
        • $200 minimum deposit
        • Extra fees
        • $36 annual fee
      • Benefits:
        • Monthly Reporting to the 3 Major Credit Bureaus;
        • $0 Fraud Liability;
        • Low interest;
        • FICO® Score for Free Each Month.
      View all Secured Mastercard® details
      Apply now
      On Merrick Bank‘s site
      Card detail
      Apply now
      First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Synovus Bank
      Annual fee:
      $39 annually
      Regular APR:
      19.24% Variable
      Our Rating:
      3.5
      scorer
      Credit score
      No Credit History to Fair (0-669)
      • Rewards Rate:
        • 1% Cash Back on payments made to your First Progress Secured credit card account.
      • Issuer name:
        Synovus Bank
      • Details:

        The First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured is designed to help cardholders build credit with no credit check or minimum credit score required to apply.

        The First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card earns 1% Cash Back on payments made to your First Progress Secured credit card account.

        The card's APR: 19.24% (Variable for Purchases), 25.24% (Variable for Cash Advances).

        The First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® has an annual fee of $39. Plus, the card has a foreign transaction fee of 3%.

        Read full review

      • Pros:
        • No credit history required
        • No Minimum Credit Score needed
        • Low Annual Percentage Rates
      • Cons:
        • Annual Fee
        • Foreign Transaction Fee
      • Benefits:
        • 1% Cash Back on payments made to your First Progress Secured credit card account;
        • Accepted Nationwide;
        • No Minimum Credit Score;
        • No Credit History Required.
      View all First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured details
      Apply now
      On First Progress’s site
      Card detail

      Capital Bank OpenSky® Secured Visa® best for 18 year old

      Secured Visa® OpenSky®
      Annual fee:
      $35 annually
      Regular APR:
      25.64% Variable
      Our Rating:
      3.82
      scorer
      Credit score
      No Credit History to Good (0-739)
        • Issuer name:
          Capital Bank
        • Details:

          With Secured Visa® Credit Card your credit limit is defined by your refundable deposit, as low as $200 and up to $3000*. You’re the one who decides what’s best for you.

          Use your card to make purchases like gas or groceries, or for recurring bills like your phone, without changing your total monthly budget. Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion® get reports every month — that's important to help you quickly improve your credit score.

          Read full review

        • Pros:
          • No credit check required
          • Does not require a bank account
          • Reports to three major credit bureaus
          • Low minimum cash deposit
        • Cons:
          • High annual fee
          • High Foreign Transaction Fee
          • No Rewards
          • No Signup Bonus
        • Benefits:
          • No credit check necessary to apply;
          • Reports to three major credit bureaus;
          • Build credit quickly;
          • Doesn't require a bank account.
        Card detail
        Sallie Mae Ignite℠ Mastercard®
        Annual fee:
        $0
        Regular APR:
        17.99% - 29.99% Variable
        Our Rating:
        3.11
        scorer
        Credit score
        No Credit History to Poor (0-579)
        • Rewards Rate:
          • 1% Cash Back on all other purchases.
        • Intro Offer:
          • $50 Cash Back reward after you spend $250 in the first 3 months.
        • Purchase Intro APR:
          0% Introductory APR for 6 months from date of account opening
        • Balance Transfer APR:
          17.99% - 29.99% Variable
        • Issuer name:
          Sallie Mae Bank
        • Details:

          The Sallie Mae Ignite℠ Mastercard® Credit Card earns a $50 Cash Back reward after you spend $250 in the first 3 months. The Card offers 1% Cash Back on all other purchases. Plus, get a 25% bonus on base Cash Back rewards after six consecutive on-time payments.

          The Sallie Mae Ignite℠ Mastercard® doesn't charge an annual fee.

          The Card has a 0% introductory APR period for 6 months on purchases. In addition, there is a 0% introductory APR period for 6 months on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, the variable APR is 17.99% - 29.99%.

        • Pros:
          • No Annual Fee
          • Intro APR period
        • Cons:
          • Foreign Transaction Fee
        • Benefits:
          • $50 Cash Back reward (after you spend $250 in the first 3 months);
          • 25% bonus on base Cash Back rewards (after six consecutive on-time payments);
          • 1% Cash Back on all other purchases;
          • Digital wallets;
          • Cell phone protection;
          • $0 liability on unauthorized charges.
        Card detail

        Short Review of Best Credit Cards For 18 Year Old Applicants

        NameBest forRewards RateAPRApply
        Capital One Platinum Credit Card
        2.84
        Without SSN
      • This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.
      • 30.74% VariableLearn more
        on our partner’s site
        Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
        3.58
        Fair credit
      • 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase.
      • 30.74% VariableLearn more
        on our partner’s site
        Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
        2.37
        Single mom, Without SSN
      • This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.
      • 30.74% VariableLearn more
        on our partner’s site
        First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
        1.75
      • 1% Cash Back rewards on payments made to your First Latitude Secured credit card account.
      • 19.24% VariableApply now
        On Synovus Bank‘s site
        Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card
        4.23
        18 year old
      • This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.
      • 9.99% FixedApply now
        On Applied Bank®‘s site
        First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
        3.8
      • 1% Cash Back rewards on payments.
      • 15.24% VariableApply now
        On First Progress’s site
        Merrick Bank Secured Credit Card
        3.2
      • This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.
      • 22.70% VariableApply now
        On Merrick Bank‘s site
        First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
        3.5
      • 1% Cash Back on payments made to your First Progress Secured credit card account.
      • 19.24% VariableApply now
        On First Progress’s site
        Capital Bank OpenSky® Secured Visa®
        3.82
        18 year old
      • This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.
      • 25.64% VariableLearn more

        Card's description:

        Capital One Platinum Credit Card

        The Capital One Platinum Mastercard has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, gives you an opportunity to increase your credit limit in as little as six months with responsible behavior, and reports account information to all three major credit bureaus each month. Although it lacks some standard benefits, like cash back and a sign-up bonus, it has everything you need to build credit inexpensively or raise your credit limit quickly.

        Read more about Capital One Platinum Credit Card

        Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

        If you’re a young adult looking to build credit and earn cash back rewards in the process, it doesn’t get simpler than the Capital One QuicksilverOne credit card, despite its $39 annual fee. It offers an unlimited 1.5% cash back reward on all purchases all year long and a chance to qualify for a higher credit limit after six months of account opening. Your rewards do not expire for the life of the account. There’s no cap on the cash back amount you can earn and no minimum redemption amount. Plus, you get plenty of redemption options to pick from.

        Read more about Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

        Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

        Thanks to its small security deposit amount, reasonable fees, and promise to automatically review your credit limit after six months, the Platinum Secured Mastercard® from Capital One is a good option for all those looking to build credit. Unlike with most other secured credit cards, you may qualify for a credit limit that’s more than your deposit. And unlike a prepaid card, this card reports to all three major credit bureaus, allowing you to build credit with responsible behavior.

        Read more about Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

        Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card

        The Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card credit card is designed for people with no credit history or bad credit. The bank doesn’t run a credit check, nor do they have any minimum credit score required for approval. Applied Bank won’t hike your APR if you miss a payment, though you’ll have to pay a late payment fee. You must also pay an annual fee of $48, which is rather steep compared to similar secured cards. Unlike most other credit cards, this one doesn’t offer a grace period, so you’ll be paying interest on your purchases from the day you make them.

        Read more about Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card

        Capital Bank OpenSky® Secured Visa®

        The OpenSky® Secured Visa® credit card reports to all three credit bureaus, which is the key to improving your credit history, along with responsible credit behavior. The highlights of this secured card include no credit check requirement for approval and the maximum credit limit of $3,000. For these reasons, the card is worth it for those who don’t want a hard credit inquiry and would like to improve credit via an increased credit limit. On the downside, you’ll pay a $35 annual fee and a 3% foreign transaction fee.

        Read more about Capital Bank OpenSky® Secured Visa®

        Should I Get a Credit Card at 18?

        When you are 18, building your credit score may not seem a priority. Yet, it can have a significant impact on your financial life. Your credit score determines whether you get approved for loans and the interest rates you pay. But that’s not all. Employers often run a credit check to get insight into a potential hire, and landlords use this three-digit number to decide who to rent to.

        In short, the better your credit score, the easier life becomes.

        A credit score, however, can’t be built in a day; it requires patience and discipline. So there’s an advantage in starting as early as possible — that is, at 18, the minimum age to be a primary cardholder for nearly all card issuers.

        How to choose the best cards for 18-year-olds?

        The process of selecting the right card is highly individual. A good starting point, however, is to consider your spending habits and look for cards with features matching them. Here’s a set of guidelines on things to consider when shopping for a credit card.

        Annual Fee

        This is the cost you pay to keep your account open. The last thing you may want while working on your credit is to take on extra costs. Some credit cards for young adults have no annual fee, and you may be better off with such a card. But if you settle for a card with an annual fee, make sure it allows you to earn enough rewards to justify it.

        Sign-up Bonus Offer

        Many cards offer a welcome bonus. That means new cardholders earn extra rewards, like cash back or points when they use it.

        icon-search

        For example, the Discover it® Student Cash Back credit card automatically matches the cash back you earn at the end of the first year, dollar-for-dollar. Since this card offers a 5% cash back on up to $1500 total purchases in rotating bonus categories every quarter, maxing out this purchase limit every quarter alone will bring you home $600 in the first membership year! And that’s without the standard 1% reward you earn on all other purchases.

        Rewards

        As a young adult with little or no credit history, you’re likely to be ineligible for cards with lucrative reward offers. But something is better than nothing, and you can maximize your savings by looking for a card that perfectly matches your spending habits.

        For example, students who plan to study abroad and travel during breaks or summer holidays may want to take a closer look at the Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students. This no-annual-fee and no-foreign-transaction-fee card lets you earn an unlimited 1.5 points for every dollar you spend.

        0% Intro APR

        Credit cards with 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers can prove useful for someone with a big purchase coming up or a high credit card balance. The 0% intro offer, however, doesn’t last forever. Once it ends, the regular APR will apply, so aim to pay off the balance in full by then.

        If you’re wondering how to pick a credit with a 0% APR, consider the length of the intro APR period. With some cards, it lasts only six months; with some others, it can last for more than a year.

        For example, BankAmericard for Students offers a 0% introductory offer on both balance transfers and new purchases for the first 18 billing cycles to help you pay off purchases without interest and save money on credit card debt.

        Automatic credit line review

        As an 18-year-old, you may not qualify for a high-limit credit card. However, with responsible credit behavior you can, slowly but surely, increase your credit limit. In fact, some student credit cards automatically review your credit line in as little as six months.

        Paying your first five card payments on time may help you get a credit line increase. Doing so can help you improve your credit utilization ratio — the percentage of total available credit that you are utilizing.

        The credit utilization ratio is a key credit scoring factor, and keeping it under 30% of the available credit limit can help boost your score.

        icon-thank

        You can easily calculate it with the help of our simple credit card utilization calculator.

        Reports to all three major credit bureaus

        When your aim is to build credit, one question you should be asking yourself before signing up is — will this credit card help me build my credit? Opt for a card that reports your credit usage to all three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Not all secured credit cards do this.

        How to Get a Credit Card for the First Time?

        As an 18-year-old, you can get your first credit card in any of the following three ways:

        1. Open a Credit Card in Your Name

        If you earn enough to afford monthly bill payments or can get someone to co-sign your application, consider getting a credit card in your name. The best type of starter credit card for young adults is a student credit card, assuming you are studying in college. Student credit cards usually have lower fees and rates and better rewards than other starter credit cards for first-time applicants.

        But if you don’t qualify for a student credit card, that’s okay. Any credit card will do, as long as its annual fee is low and you use it responsibly.

        2. Become an Authorized User on someone else’s card

        If you have a thin credit file, becoming an authorized user on a friend’s or parent’s credit card can help you build credit. This strategy works best when the primary user has a long record of paying credit card bills on time because then you can benefit from the age of their account.

        Keep in mind that not all credit card issuers report authorized users to the credit bureau. Picking a card that doesn’t will defeat the whole purpose because your credit score gets generated from the information present in your credit reports. So ensure the issuer reports authorized users to all three major credit bureaus before becoming one.

        3. Get a Secured Credit Card

        If you neither qualify for an unsecured card — a card that doesn’t require a deposit for approval — nor have a co-signer, consider getting a secured credit card. As the name suggests, such cards require a deposit, which becomes your line of credit.

        icon-info

        Generally, the minimum deposit for most secured cards is $200 and the maximum $3,000.

        You may want to put as much money on a secured card as possible since the more you deposit, the higher your line of credit. A higher credit limit, in turn, makes it relatively easier to maintain a good credit utilization rate — 30% or lower. Before you apply, double-check that the credit card company reports to at least one credit bureau, if not all three.

        How to build credit being 18 years old?

        The secret to building credit at 18 is pretty simple. Get a credit card in your name and use it responsibly.

        Here are some tips to help you use your credit card wisely:

        • Payment history: When it comes to paying credit card bills, timing is everything. Payment history is the most important factor in your credit score, and even one missed payment can bring your score down.
        • Credit Utilization Rate: Also known as credit utilization ratio, it is the percentage of total available credit that you are currently using. Aim for a credit utilization ratio of 30% or lower. If you’re just starting out and have a low credit limit, use your card for small purchases, like an Uber ride, to keep credit utilization in check and pay the full statement balance on the due date.

        The credit age and history, credit mix and account types, and credit inquiries all impact your credit score, but not as much as maintaining a good credit card utilization ratio and paying your card balance in full every month.

        FAQ

        Can you get a credit card at 18 if unemployed?

        You don’t need a job to get approval, but you do require an income. The list could include allowances, personal income, scholarships, and grants. If you don’t have a job but receive income from one or more of these sources, mention the same on your credit card application.

        How old do you have to be to open a credit card?

        You have to be at least 18 years old to get a credit card in your name, but you can get yourself added as an authorized user to another person’s account earlier. You will likely need proof of income or a co-signer to open an account in your name.

        Does credit build before 18?

        As a minor, you can be added as an authorized user to someone else’s credit card. There’s no legal minimum age for adding a minor as an authorized user as such, but each issuer may have different guidelines.
        Hanna VolkavaHanna Volkava

        Financial and product expert

        hv@myfin.us