Accepted Platinum
Accepted Platinum
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On Acceptedplatinum‘s website

Best Credit Cards for College Graduates

If you’re a college graduate, it’s time to get serious about your financial well-being. And part of that is choosing the right credit card for your personal needs. Keep reading to find out details about how to choose the right card for your lifestyle.

By Hanna Volkava
Updated November 23, 2021
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Best Credit Cards for Graduates in November 2021

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Accepted Platinum
Apply now
On Acceptedplatinum‘s website
Our Rating:
4 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
No Credit History to Poor (0-579)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.
  • Intro Offer:
    • No current offer.
  • Annual Fee:
    $269.35 in the first year (incl. application fee $29.95). $239.4 annually.
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    0% Introductory APR.
  • Regular APR:
    None
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    None
  • Details:

    The Accepted Platinum Card is a special card for online shopping.

    The Accepted Platinum card offers fast, trackable and reliable roadside service.

    The Initial cost of membership in the Unique Card Services shopping club is $29.95. The continuing cost is $19.95 per months. The card's NSF check fee is $30 (fee for returned checks or debits, second NSF).

    The card's minimum monthly payment is 15% (of the account balance owed) or $25.00.

    The Accepted Platinum Card has no penalties for prepayment.

  • Pros:
    • No Foreign Transaction Fee
    • Introductory APR period
  • Cons:
    • No rewards
    • No Intro APR period on balance transfer
  • Benefits:
    • $1,000.00 Credit Line;
    • No Credit Checks & No Credit Turndowns;
    • 24/7 Roadside Assistance;
    • Low Monthly Payments.
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First Access Visa® The Bank of Missouri
Apply now
On The Bank of Missouri‘s site
Our Rating:
4.2 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
No Credit History to Fair (0-669)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.
  • Intro Offer:
    • No current offer.
  • Annual Fee:
    $75 annual fee for first year. $48 annually.
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    None
  • Regular APR:
    34.99% Regular.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    None
  • Issuer name:
    The Bank of Missouri
  • Details:

    The First Access Card is a true VISA® credit card that does not require perfect credit for approval.

    The First Access Visa Card's APR: 34.99% (Regular APR).

    The First Access Visa Credit Card is not a secured credit card, meaning applicants don’t have to have the amount of their credit limit as a deposit.

  • Pros:
    • Available to those with bad credit
    • Reports to three major credit bureaus
    • Easy application
    • No security deposit
  • Cons:
    • High APR
    • Several fees
    • Low credit limit
    • No rewards
  • Benefits:
    • First Access Visa credit card accepted nationwide;
    • Rebuild your credit;
    • Easy and Secure Online Application.
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WebBank Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® best for Beginner, No history

Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® WebBank
Apply now
On WebBank‘s site
Our Rating:
3.8 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
Fair to Excellent (580-799)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • 1% - 1.5%:
    • Cash Back after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
    • 2% - 10%:
    • Cash Back from select merchants.
  • Intro Offer:
    • No current offer.
  • Annual Fee:
    None
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    None
  • Regular APR:
    12.99% - 26.99% Variable.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    None
  • Issuer name:
    WebBank
  • Details:

    The Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® comes with no fees of any kind — including late or returned payment fees and foreign transaction fees — and is designed to help customers build their credit. It reports to the three major credit bureaus and has an APR of 12.99 to 26.99%. You’ll get a credit limit of $500 to $10,000 and earn cash back from 1% to 1.5% (get 1% right away and 1.5% when you pay your bills on time for 12 months). In addition, you’ll earn 2% to 10% bonus cash back just for shopping at select merchants.

    If you’re just starting with credit, it’s a great card because you won’t pay any fees, and it will report your activity to the three major credit bureaus.
  • Pros:
    • No fees at all
    • Freeze your card to protect your account
    • Bonus cash back at select merchants
    • 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after you make 12 on-time payments
    • No security deposit
  • Cons:
    • No intro APR offer
    • No sign-up bonus
    • Complicated rewards
  • Benefits:
    • No foreign transaction fee;
    • Petal 2 reports to all 3 major credit bureaus;
    • Qualify with average credit.
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Evolve℠ Sallie Mae Bank
Apply now
On Sallie Mae Bank‘s site
Our Rating:
5 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
Good to Excellent (670-799)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • 2% Cash Back on your two highest-spending eligible categories per month.
    • 1.5% Cash Back on everything else.
  • Intro Offer:
    • $200 Earn a $200 cash back reward after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Annual Fee:
    None
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    0% Introductory APR for 15 months from date of account opening.
  • Regular APR:
    12.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    12.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.
  • Issuer name:
    Sallie Mae Bank
  • Details:

    The Sallie Mae Evolve℠ card offers 2% Cash Back on your two highest-spending eligible categories per month and 1.5% Cash Back on all purchases. Plus, earn a $200 Cash Back reward after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.

    The card offers 0% purchase and balance transfer APR for 15 months, then 12.99% - 24.99% (Variable APR).

    The Sallie Mae Evolve℠ card has no annual fee.

  • Pros:
    • No Annual Fee
    • 0% Introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Cons:
    • Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Benefits:
    • $200 Cash Back reward;
    • 2% Cash Back;
    • 1.5% Cash Back on all purchases;
    • 25% on Сash Back rewards;
    • $0 liability;
    • Digital Wallets;
    • Cell Phone Protection.
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Synovus Bank First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured best for For bad credit

First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Synovus Bank
Apply now
On Synovus Bank‘s site
Our Rating:
3.8 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
No Credit History to Fair (0-669)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.
  • Intro Offer:
    • No current offer.
  • Annual Fee:
    $49 annually.
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    None
  • Regular APR:
    9.99% Variable.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    None
  • 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 First Progress Platinum Prestige doesn’t earn a welcome bonus. The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard Secured Credit Card charges the highest annual fee of the three cards at $49, but it offers the lowest APR, at 9.99% (Variable).

    First Progress reports to all three major credit agencies, so even if you have bad credit, you’ll be able to improve on your credit standing provided you use your card responsibly.

  • 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
    • No Bonuses or Rewards
    • Foreign Transaction Fees
    • Unavailability of Card for Certain Geographies in the US
  • Benefits:
    • Accepted Nationwide;
    • No Minimum Credit Score;
    • No Credit History Required.
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Celtic Bank Deserve® EDU Mastercard best for Cash Back, Low Interest, Without SSN, Student

Deserve® EDU Mastercard Celtic Bank
Apply now
On Celtic Bank‘s site
Our Rating:
3.5 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
Fair to Excellent (580-799)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you'll automatically start earning Cash Back on all purchases.
  • Intro Offer:
    • No current offer.
  • Annual Fee:
    None
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    None
  • Regular APR:
    18.74% Variable.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    None
  • Issuer name:
    Celtic Bank
  • Details:

    The Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students makes it easy for students to start building credit.

    The card's APR is 18.74% (Variable APR). The late payment is up to $25, while the returned payment is up to $37. Balance transfers and cash advances are not available.

    Students who make purchases totaling $500 within the first three statement cycles of card membership qualify to have their Amazon Prime Student subscription reimbursed (a $59 value).

    Students spend a significant amount on school supplies, textbooks and gear each year, and the Deserve EDU Mastercard can earn Cash Back on all of these purchases.

  • Pros:
    • No prior credit history required
    • No SSN Required
    • No Annual Fee
    • No Foreign Transactions Fees
    • No Co-Signer/ Deposit Required
  • Cons:
    • Relatively High APR
    • Fairly Low Rewards
    • Only for Students
  • Benefits:
    • Cellphone Protection;
    • Collision Damage Waiver;
    • Concierge Service;
    • No International Transaction Fees;
    • Priority Pass™ Membership;
    • Mastercard Benefits;
    • No Social Security Number required for international students to apply.
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Capital One QuicksilverOne best for Fair credit

QuicksilverOne Capital One
Our Rating:
3.42 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
Fair (580-669)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase.
  • Intro Offer:
    • No current offer.
  • Annual Fee:
    $39 annually.
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    None
  • Regular APR:
    22.99% Variable.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    22.99% Variable.
  • Issuer name:
    Capital One
  • Details:

    The QuicksilverOne Card from Capital One is unlimited.

    Enjoy 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase and get access to valuable benefits.

  • 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:
    • Cash Back;
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees;
    • Autopay;
    • $0 Fraud Liability;
    • Card Lock;
    • ATM Location Services.
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Chase Freedom Unlimited® best for Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Daily use

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Our Rating:
5 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
Good to Excellent (670-799)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • 5% Cash Back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
    • 3% Cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.
    • 3% Cash Back on drugstore purchases.
    • 1.5% Cash Back on all other purchases.
  • Intro Offer:
    • $200 Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • 5% Cash Back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Annual Fee:
    None
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    0% Intro APR for the first 15 months that your Account is open.
  • Regular APR:
    14.99% - 23.74% Variable.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    14.99% - 23.74% Variable.
  • Issuer name:
    Chase
  • Details:

    The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers 0% introductory APR period (14.99% to 23.74% Variable after that) and a sign-up bonus that’s worth far more than most Cash-Back cards offer — all for an annual fee of $0.

    My Chase PlanSM Fee is (monthly fee) of the amount of each eligible purchase transaction or amount selected to create a My Chase Plan while in the 0% Intro Purchase APR period. After that, monthly fee of 1.72% of the amount of each eligible purchase transaction or amount selected to create a My Chase Plan. The My Chase Plan Fee will be determined at the time each My Chase Plan is created and will remain the same until the My Chase Plan is paid in full.

    The card offers 3% Cash Back on restaurants and drugstore purchases, 5% back on travel booked through Chase and 1.5% back on other purchases.

    Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Enjoy 5% Cash Back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

  • Pros:
    • No Annual Fee
    • Generous rewards
    • 0% intro APR
    • Sign-up bonus
  • Cons:
    • Foreign Transaction Fee
  • Benefits:
    • Zero Liability Protection;
    • $200 intro bonus;
    • 5 percent Cash Back on all travel purchased via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal;
    • 3 percent back on dining;
    • 3 percent back at drugstores;
    • 1.5 percent Cash Back on general purchases;
    • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver;
    • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance;
    • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services;
    • 24/7 Fraud Protection;
    • Redeem for Cash Back;
    • Gift cards.
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® best for Travel, Restaurants, Daily use

Chase Sapphire Preferred®
Our Rating:
4.53 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
Good to Excellent (670-799)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • $50 Earn up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
    • 5x Points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit.
    • 3x Points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out.
    • 3x Points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
    • 3x Points on select streaming services.
    • 2x Points on other travel purchases.
    • 1x Point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Intro Offer:
    • 60,000x Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee:
    $95 annually.
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    None
  • Regular APR:
    15.99% - 22.99% Variable.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    15.99% - 22.99% Variable.
  • Issuer name:
    Chase
  • Details:

    The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 2x points on travel and dining. Get 25% more value when redeemed for travel.

    The Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee. The card’s variable APR is 15.99% to 22.99%.

    My Chase PlanSM Fee is 1.72% (monthly fee) of the amount of each eligible purchase transaction or amount selected to create a My Chase Plan. The My Chase Plan Fee will be determined at the time each My Chase Plan is created and will remain the same until the My Chase Plan is paid in full.

  • Pros:
    • Excellent sign-up bonus
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • 25% more redemption value
    • Unique “My Chase Plan” offer
    • Great Referral Program
  • Cons:
    • There is an annual fee
    • Steep penalty APR of 29.99%
    • No 0% intro APR offer
  • Benefits:
    • 60,000 Bonus Points;
    • $50 in statement credits;
    • 5x points on travel;
    • 3x points on dining;
    • 3x points on online grocery purchases;
    • 3x points on select streaming services;
    • 2x points on other travel purchases;
    • 25% more redemption value;
    • 1:1 Point Transfer;
    • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance;
    • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver;
    • Baggage Delay Insurance;
    • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services.
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Capital One Secured Mastercard® best for Single mom, Without SSN

Secured Mastercard® Capital One
Our Rating:
2.49 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
No Credit History to Poor (0-579)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.
  • Intro Offer:
    • No current offer.
  • Annual Fee:
    None
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    None
  • Regular APR:
    26.99% Variable.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    26.99% Variable.
  • Issuer name:
    Capital One
  • Details:

    The Secured Mastercard® from Capital One is for people who can’t get approved for traditional credit cards and want to improve their credit scores. It also is good for people who don’t have a lot of money saved to put down for a deposit.

    The Secured Mastercard from Capital One doesn’t offer a welcome bonus for new cardholders, nor does it offer any rewards for ongoing spending.The card has no annual fee.

    This is a secured credit card, which means it requires a security deposit when you’re approved. This deposit will fund your credit limit for the card, up to a maximum of $1,000 for an initial credit limit. You’ll also have a chance to increase your limit beyond that later on.

    The card's APR is 26.99% (Variable).

    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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American Express Cash Magnet® best for Cash Back, 0 APR

Cash Magnet® American Express
Our Rating:
3.9 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
Good to Excellent (670-799)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • 1.5% Earn unlimited Cash Back on all purchases.
  • Intro Offer:
    • $200 Earn $200 Back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. You will receive the $200 back in the form of a statement credit.
  • Annual Fee:
    None
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    0% Introductory APR for the first 15 months from the date of account opening.
  • Regular APR:
    13.99% - 23.99% Variable.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    None
  • Issuer name:
    American Express
  • Details:

    The American Express Cash Magnet® Card is one of the best cash back credit cards. You’ll earn Cash Back on every purchase at a flat rate of 1.5 % back, no matter what you buy. The card also carries a nice welcome bonus and no annual fee.

    0% introductory plan fee on each purchase moved into a plan during the first 15 months after account opening. After that, your plan fee will be up to 1.33% of each purchase moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase and other factors.

    Whenever you travel more than 100 miles from home, Global Assist Hotline is available for 24/7 medical, legal, financial and other select emergency assistance and coordination services, such as medical and legal referrals, emergency cash wires, and missing luggage assistance. Card Members are responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers.

    Stay in the know with exclusive access to ticket presales and Card Member-only events in a city near you. Check out Broadway shows and concert tours, family and sporting events, and more.

  • Pros:
    • No annual fee
    • 0% Intro APR
    • Uniform Bonus Tier
    • $200 Welcome Bonus
  • Cons:
    • Relatively Low Cash Back Rate
    • Limited Cash Back Reward Redemption
    • Limited Acceptance Globally
    • Foreign transaction fee
    • APR Penalty
  • Benefits:
    • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back;
    • 0% intro APR;
    • American Express Experiences;
    • 24/7 Travel Assistant;
    • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance;
    • Purchase Protection.
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American Express EveryDay® best for Honeymoon

EveryDay® American Express
Our Rating:
3.25 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
Good to Excellent (670-799)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • 20% Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
    • 2x Points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1x.
    • 1x Points on other purchases.
  • Intro Offer:
    • 10,000x Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Annual Fee:
    None
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    0% Introductory APR for the first 15 months from the date of account opening.
  • Regular APR:
    12.99% - 23.99% Variable.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    None
  • Issuer name:
    American Express
  • Details:

    For frequent supermarket shoppers, the Amex EveryDay credit card is the best card to earn American Express Membership Rewards points for no annual fee — especially with its 20 percent extra points feature. Use your percent more points on those purchases less returns and credits.

    Cardholders earn 2x points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1x point. 1x point is provided for all other purchases.

    You can get the most value for your points by transferring them to a travel partner, where you may find as much as 2 cents per point or more. That would give you a cash back equivalent of 4% when earning at the 2x rate.

    This card has an introductory APR of 0% for 15 months for purchases. After that, you’ll get a regular rate of 12.99% – 23.99% Variable.

    When you use your American Express® Card, you won't be held responsible for fraudulent charges. If you see a charge that you think is fraudulent, just call us at the number on the back of your Card. There's no deductible, so you can use your Card with confidence.

  • Pros:
    • No Annual Fee
    • 0% APR on purchases for the first 15 months
    • Flexible travel rewards

  • Cons:
    • Foreign Transaction Fee
    • Mediocre welcome offer
  • Benefits:
    • Earn 20% Extra Points;
    • 10,000 Membership Rewards® Points;
    • Earn 2x Points at U.S. Supermarkets;
    • Earn 1x Points on Other Eligible Purchases;
    • 2x Membership Rewards® Points at Amextravel.com;
    • Membership Rewards® Program;
    • Use Points for Your Charges;
    • Membership Rewards® Pay with Points;
    • Transfer Points to Frequent Traveler Programs;
    • Global Assist® Hotline;
    • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance.
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Capital One SavorOne best for Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Restaurants, Entertainment, Daily use

SavorOne Capital One
Our Rating:
4.25 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
Excellent (740-799)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • 3% Cash Back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores.
    • 1% Cash Back on all other purchases.
  • Intro Offer:
    • $200 Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee:
    None
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    0% Introductory APR for the first 15 months that your account is open.
  • Regular APR:
    15.49% - 25.49% Variable.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    15.49% - 25.49% Variable.
  • Issuer name:
    Capital One
  • Details:

    Earn unlimited 3% Cash Back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores, plus 1% on all other purchases. Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening with SavorOne Rewards from Capital One.

  • Pros:
    • High rewards rates on dining, entertainment, and grocery stores
    • One-time bonus
    • Introductory 0% APR on purchases
    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fees
  • Cons:
    • No rewards for travel purchases
    • Excellent credit score needed
  • Benefits:
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees;
    • Complimentary Concierge Service;
    • Extended Warranty;
    • Travel Accident Insurance;
    • 24-hour Travel Assistance Services.
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Discover Bank Discover it® Miles best for Low Interest, Daily use

Discover it® Miles Discover Bank
Our Rating:
4.06 out of 5
scorer
Recommended credit score
Good to Excellent (670-799)
  • Rewards Rate:
    • 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase.
  • Intro Offer:
    • Discover Match®:
    • Discover will automatically match all the miles you've earned — essentially doubling your rewards for that period. For example, if you earn 35,000 miles throughout the year, Discover will match it and increase your rewards balance to 70,000 miles.
  • Annual Fee:
    None
  • Purchase Intro APR:
    0% Intro APR for 14 months from date of account opening.
  • Regular APR:
    11,99% - 22,99% Variable APR.
  • Balance Transfer APR:
    10,99% APR for 14 months from date of first transfer. 11,99% - 22,99% Variable APR.
  • Issuer name:
    Discover Bank
  • Details:

    The Discover it® Miles is a travel credit card.

    Cardholders will automatically earn unlimited 1.5x miles per dollar spent on all purchases. There is no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no penalty APR and no first late payment fee (none the first time you pay late. After that, up to $40).

    Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.

    The card offers 0% Intro APR for 14 months on purchases and 10.99% APR for 14 months on balance transfers. Thereafter, the card’s standard purchase APR will apply (11.99% - 22.99% Variable).

  • Pros:
    • No annual fee
    • Rewards Rate
    • Unlimited Match for Miles in the First Year
    • Intro APR
    • Flexible Redemption Options
    • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • Cons:
    • Limited International Acceptance
    • Relatively High Credit Score Required
  • Benefits:
    • Discover Match®;
    • Unlimited 1.5x miles;
    • $0 Fraud Liability;
    • Free FICO Score Each Month.
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Short Review of Best Credit Cards for College Graduates

NameBest forRewards RateAPRApply
Accepted Platinum
4
  • This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.
  • NoneApply now
    On Acceptedplatinum‘s website
    First Access Visa® from The Bank of Missouri
    4.2
  • This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.
  • 34.99% Regular.Apply now
    On The Bank of Missouri‘s site
    Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® from WebBank
    3.8
    Beginner, No history
  • 1% - 1.5%:
  • Cash Back after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
  • 2% - 10%:
  • Cash Back from select merchants.
  • 12.99% - 26.99% Variable.Apply now
    On WebBank‘s site
    Evolve℠ from Sallie Mae Bank
    5
  • 2% Cash Back on your two highest-spending eligible categories per month.
  • 1.5% Cash Back on everything else.
  • 12.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.Apply now
    On Sallie Mae Bank‘s site
    First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured from Synovus Bank
    3.8
    For bad credit
  • This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.
  • 9.99% Variable.Apply now
    On Synovus Bank‘s site
    Deserve® EDU Mastercard from Celtic Bank
    3.5
    Cash Back, Low Interest, Without SSN, Student
  • 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you'll automatically start earning Cash Back on all purchases.
  • 18.74% Variable.Apply now
    On Celtic Bank‘s site
    QuicksilverOne from Capital One
    3.42
    Fair credit
  • 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase.
  • 22.99% Variable.Learn more
    Freedom Unlimited® from Chase
    5
    Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Daily use
  • 5% Cash Back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • 3% Cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.
  • 3% Cash Back on drugstore purchases.
  • 1.5% Cash Back on all other purchases.
  • 14.99% - 23.74% Variable.Learn more
    Sapphire Preferred® from Chase
    4.53
    Travel, Restaurants, Daily use
  • $50 Earn up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 5x Points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit.
  • 3x Points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out.
  • 3x Points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
  • 3x Points on select streaming services.
  • 2x Points on other travel purchases.
  • 1x Point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • 15.99% - 22.99% Variable.Learn more
    Secured Mastercard® from Capital One
    2.49
    Single mom, Without SSN
  • This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.
  • 26.99% Variable.Learn more
    Cash Magnet® from American Express
    3.9
    Cash Back, 0 APR
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited Cash Back on all purchases.
  • 13.99% - 23.99% Variable.Learn more
    EveryDay® from American Express
    3.25
    Honeymoon
  • 20% Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
  • 2x Points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1x.
  • 1x Points on other purchases.
  • 12.99% - 23.99% Variable.Learn more
    SavorOne from Capital One
    4.25
    Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Restaurants, Entertainment, Daily use
  • 3% Cash Back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores.
  • 1% Cash Back on all other purchases.
  • 15.49% - 25.49% Variable.Learn more
    Discover it® Miles from Discover Bank
    4.06
    Low Interest, Daily use
  • 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase.
  • 11,99% - 22,99% Variable APR.Learn more

    Card's description:

    WebBank Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa®

    If you’re just starting with credit, it’s a great card because you won’t pay any fees, and it will report your activity to the three major credit bureaus.

    Read more about WebBank Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa®

    Capital One QuicksilverOne

    The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make, and you never have to activate rotating categories. In addition, your rewards never expire as long as your account is in good standing. You’ll also get protection in the form of $0 fraud liability on unauthorized transactions. You won’t pay any foreign transaction fees, so this is a good choice if you plan to travel outside the U.S. The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great starter card if you want to build your credit. Use it responsibly, and you’ll be automatically considered for a higher credit limit in as little as six months. You can monitor your credit profile for free with the CreditWise app and get customized alerts via the Capital One app to help you manage your account.

    Read more about Capital One QuicksilverOne

    Chase Freedom Unlimited®

    The Chase Freedom Unlimited® rewards you with 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, Lyft purchases (through March 2022), and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 you spend during the first year. You’ll also get 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases and 1.5% cash back on everything else. You’ll receive a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months and, if you spend $500 in the first three months, you’ll get $200 cash back. There is no annual fee for the card, and the APR is 14.99% to 23.74% variable. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a card designed for those who want an all-purpose cash back card with a good bonus offer. If you’re a frequent Lyft user, you’ll do particularly well in the rewards category, and if you travel frequently, you’ll have access to valuable travel protections and insurances. If you want to maximize your rewards, you can transfer them to other Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards.

    Read more about Chase Freedom Unlimited®

    Chase Sapphire Preferred®

    The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a good choice for those who love to travel, thanks to a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, no blackout or expiration dates, no point limits, and an additional 25% bonus on your rewards redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. You can transfer points at 1:1 value to frequent flyer partner programs and pay for travel with points (either in full or partially). You can also combine points from other Chase credit cards, which work with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. You’ll receive access to sports, entertainment, and culinary events through Chase’s VIP events and experiences, and a free DashPass subscription for one year, in addition to a host of benefits and perks related to travel. You’ll earn 5 points per dollar on all travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards (excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit); 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services, and online grocery shopping; 2 points per dollar on other travel purchases; and 1 point per dollar on everything else. If you travel and dine out frequently, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card might be a good fit for you. It’s a great first travel card and enables cardholders to stretch rewards points with travel redemptions. Although it comes with a $95 annual fee, you can get that $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit and make the rest up with the generous rewards structure in practically no time.

    Read more about Chase Sapphire Preferred®

    Capital One Secured Mastercard®

    The Capital One Secured Mastercard® lets you see if you’re approved without any risk to your credit score. This card requires a refundable security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, which will give you a credit line of $200 (you can also deposit up to $1,000 to increase your credit line). You won’t pay foreign transaction, annual, replacement card, or authorized user fees. The card comes with a relatively high variable APR of 26.99%. You can get your deposit back and possibly upgrade to an unsecured Platinum card when you use the card responsibly. Capital One will also automatically consider cardholders for a higher credit limit in as little as six months, and it offers flexible payment due dates that work with your budget. Although the Capital One Secured Mastercard® doesn’t offer a rewards program, it features a possibility of a lower security deposit, reasonable fees, and an easy way to get a higher credit line, which makes it a good card for those looking to build credit or who have made some credit mistakes in the past.

    Read more about Capital One Secured Mastercard®

    American Express Cash Magnet®

    The American Express Cash Magnet® Card does not charge an annual fee, offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make, and will reward you with a $200 bonus (in the form of a statement credit) if you spend $2,000 in the first six months. The variable APR is from 13.99% to 23.99%, and you get 0% APR on purchases for 15 months. If you need to finance a large purchase after the introductory 0% APR period, you’ll have access to the Pay it Plan it feature, which allows you to pay it down over several months through installment payments with a fixed fee. You’ll also get a complimentary ShopRunner membership (for free shipping), $0 fraud liability, and purchase protection. This no-annual-fee card is another good pick for those who want a flat rate of rewards without worrying about enrollment or categories. Additionally, if you’re making a large purchase, you can take advantage of the Pay it Plan it program.

    Read more about American Express Cash Magnet®

    American Express EveryDay®

    Get the American Express EveryDay® Credit Card, and you can earn 10,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $1,000 during the first three months. Rewards come in the form of 2 points per dollar on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%), 2 points per dollar spent on amextravel.com, 1 point per dollar on other purchases, and a 20% bonus when you make 20+ purchases during a billing cycle. The card comes with an APR of 12.99% to 23.99%. If you use your card a lot — and spend a lot on groceries — this could be the card for you. It’s a no-annual-fee card that earns a nice rewards rate, and you can transfer your points to American Express airline partners to get the most out of them.

    Read more about American Express EveryDay®

    Capital One SavorOne

    The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card rewards cardholders with 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, grocery stores (excluding Walmart and Target) and streaming services, 8% on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023, and 1% on all other purchases. Foodies would be a good match for the card because the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards gives 3% cash back on dining and grocery stores. It’s also a good choice for those who like to travel, thanks to its no foreign transaction fees, travel accident insurance, and 24/7 travel assistance services.

    Read more about Capital One SavorOne

    Discover Bank Discover it® Miles

    The Discover it® Miles offers a unique reward for the first year, called Discover Match. You’ll rack up 1.5 miles per dollar on all of your purchases, pay no annual fee, and at the end of your first year, Discover will match all of the miles you’ve earned. Plus, you’ll get a 0% introductory APR on purchases for the card’s first 14 months, after which the interest rate ranges from 11.99% to 22.99%. In addition, there is no fee for your first late payment and no foreign transaction fees, plus you’ll have free access to your FICO score. You can redeem rewards in a number of ways, including statement credits for various travel-related expenses or just cash. This is a solid card for those who want a high rate of return on simple rewards and a travel card with few restrictions. You won’t pay an annual fee and get flexible redemption options, making it a nice card.

    Read more about Discover Bank Discover it® Miles

    How to choose the right credit card after graduation?

    Recent grads should keep in mind that there is no “one” best credit card. There’s simply the one best for you. So, when making a decision, consider essential features for you, interest rates, and rewards programs.

    Before you apply for a credit card, there are a few steps you should take. First, check your credit score to figure out which cards make the most sense for you to apply for. If it’s high, you’ll likely be able to qualify for offers from the top cards with the best rewards. On the flip side, if your score is low, your choices will be more limited. You can check your credit score for free every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com.

    Next, decide which types of rewards you want to earn. Is cash back most important to you? Airline or hotel points? Or flexible rewards points? Once you figure out what you want, it will narrow your options. Also, look for the perks you need most, such as travel protection, extended warranties, no foreign transaction fees, rental car coverage, etc.

    Because many graduating college students haven’t found jobs yet, it’s always a good idea to look for a card with no annual fee. There are plenty of them out there, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one. If you go for a card that charges an annual fee, decide if the rewards and benefits are worth paying for.

    What should you do with your student credit card after graduation?

    New graduates might already have student credit cards when they finish college, and there’s no reason to get rid of them. In fact, keeping your oldest student credit card can help raise your credit score because the length of credit history counts for 15% of your FICO score. Consider putting a recurring monthly bill on it so that it still contributes to your credit score.

    You can always ask your issuer to upgrade your student card to something more appropriate for post-grads. And if you like the card, choosing one after college might be as easy as getting it reclassified by the issuer, so it’s no longer considered a student card. Keep in mind that once you start a job, you can always ask the issuer to increase your credit limit or lower your APR (assuming you’ve always paid on time).

    Should you get a student card if you are about to graduate?

    Student card issuers typically ask for verification that you are indeed enrolled in college, so if you’re about to graduate, it’s not a great time to sign up for one. That said, the Journey Student Credit Card Capital One is unusual as it does not require proof of enrollment, so you can consider applying for this card if you really like it.

    How can recent graduates use credit cards responsibly?

    College graduates, just like all adults, must learn to use their credit cards responsibly. The best advice for anyone with a credit card is to pay off the balance each month, which will enable you to avoid paying interest and keep your credit score where you want it. In addition, creating a budget and sticking to it will likely allow you to make those payments easily. If you can’t pay off the balance, make sure you send in the minimum payment on time.

    Use your card for things that you really need, not just want. Purchase items you would buy even if you didn’t have a credit card — think groceries, gas, restaurants. And, when you make purchases, think about how they will affect your rewards. For example, if you have a card that rewards you more for groceries or gas, make sure you use it for those purchases.

    Never spend to the point where you’re close to your card’s limit because it will increase your credit utilization. Credit utilization is how much you owe compared to your limit. The general rule of thumb is to keep it at 30% or below.

    Which credit card offers the best rewards for recent graduates?

    Of all the cards we reviewed, Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers the best rewards for recent grads.

    The current offer includes a $200 bonus when you spend $500 on the card during your first three months of having the card, plus you’ll earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) for up to $12,000 during the first year.

    You’ll also earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining (including takeout) and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases. Your cash back rewards won’t expire, and there is no minimum amount required to redeem them.

    Partner benefits include three free months of DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service ( must activate by Dec. 31, 2021), and 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022.

    The Chase Freedom Unlimited® comes without an annual fee, plus a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, you’ll pay a variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74%.

    This card also comes with many built-in benefits, including zero liability, extended warranty and purchase protection, trip cancellation/interruption insurance; fraud protection and alerts; and auto rental collision waiver.

    Another excellent feature for recent grads is access to Chase’s Credit Journey, a program that gives you insights to help you manage your credit. You can get your credit score for free and utilize other resources, such as score simulator and score factor breakdown, to help you understand your credit health.

    FAQ

    What are other credit cards to consider?

    Because many college graduates are just beginning to build their credit, they may not qualify for premium cards. New grads typically have better odds of being approved for the cards on our list, plus some others: Citi Simplicity® Card, and Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students.

    Can you apply for a credit card if you are unemployed?

    The short answer is yes; new graduates can get approved for a card even if they haven’t found a job yet. Because credit card issuers consider your overall capability to pay your debts, you can include money you might have besides actual income on your application. This might be an allowance, a legal settlement, scholarships and grants, or a trust fund distribution.

    What is the best credit card for a college student with no credit?

    College students with no credit might find their choices limited. But there are several secured cards they can get approved for with no credit at all. Secured cards require you to deposit money with the issuer to open an account. That money acts as a security deposit, which is often refundable. Once you build your credit with a secured card, it should be easy to open a traditional, unsecured one.

    Which is the best overall credit card for recent college graduates?

    The best overall credit card for college graduates is the one that best fits their needs and one that they can reasonably expect to be approved for. Because everyone’s situation is different, it’s simply not a “one card fits all” situation.
    Once you find the card that’s right for you, you can continue to build your credit and later, considering your financial situation and needs, apply for cards usually reserved for those with higher credit. Meanwhile, you’ll be on your way to getting better rates not just on credit cards but also on mortgages and other types of loans.

    Financial and product expert

    hv@myfin.us