Best Credit Cards for College Graduates of 2023 - Experian (2023)

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We’ve done the research so you don’t have to. Our technology works directly with financial institutions to match you to the offers from our partners that are right for you, which means you are more likely to qualify for the products that are Matched for You. Our list is more personalized than other sites because we review lender requirements before showing you offers. We find your best matches using things like your credit profile and your spending habits.

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We’ve done the research so you don’t have to. Our technology works directly with financial institutions to match you to the offers from our partners that are right for you, which means you are more likely to qualify for the products that are Matched for You. Our list is more personalized than other sites because we review lender requirements before showing you offers. We find your best matches using things like your credit profile and your spending habits.

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College graduation is a significant milestone for students who are preparing to begin the rest of their lives. Having a good credit card can help you not only build and maintain a good credit score but also provide you with everyday benefits as you use it responsibly.

Our top picks for the best credit cards for college students offer a mix of rewards and benefits, including some that can help you expand a thin credit file.

5 Partner Offers

Our Picks for the Best Credit Cards for College Graduates

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

1.5% cash back on every purchase; 5% cash back on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel

Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months

$39 annual fee

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months

No annual fee

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

2% to 10% cash back at select merchants

Accessible if you're new to credit or have a fair credit profile

No annual fee

Card Issued by WebBank

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

$200 statement credit when you spend $2,000 in the first 6 months from account opening

Intro 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from the date of account opening (Rates and Fees); ongoing 18.99%-29.99% Variable APR

3% cash back on up to $6,000 spent per year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1%), on up to $6,000 spent per year on U.S. online retail purchases (then 1%) and on up to $6,000 spent per year at U.S. gas stations (then 1%); 1% back on all other purchases

No annual fee; terms apply

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card

$200 cash rewards bonus when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days from account opening

Intro 0% APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 18 billing cycles; ongoing 17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR

1.5% cash back on every purchase

Earn up to 75% more rewards as a Bank of America Preferred Rewards customer

No annual fee

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you have a limited credit history, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card offers an opportunity to continue building your credit while earning rewards along the way. The card offers a solid 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

While you may start out with a relatively low credit limit, the card issuer will review your account starting at six months to determine if you qualify for a credit line increase.

The card doesn't offer a lot of perks, but you will get up to six months of complimentary Uber One membership through November 14, 2024.

Because of the card's $39 annual fee and its high 29.99% (Variable) APR, it's a good option for building credit, but you may want to replace it later if you can qualify for a less expensive card or one with more perks.

Read full review

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is another card that can be a good option if you're still relatively new to credit.

Just keep in mind the card doesn't offer any rewards, and it doesn't provide much beyond standard credit card benefits. However, you may be able to get a credit limit increase starting at six months, and the card doesn't charge an annual fee. If you want to build credit but won't spend enough to cover the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card's annual fee, this can be a good alternative.

Just make sure you pay your balance in full every month to avoid the card's 29.99% (Variable) APR.

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

If you haven't yet had the chance to build a credit history, or you've made some credit missteps early on, the Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card, issued by WebBank, can help you start building or rebuilding your credit history.

WebBank doesn't require a credit score to get approved, instead relying on your bank account information to gauge your income and expense details. The card doesn't offer rewards on every purchase you make, but you can get between 2% and 10% cash back with select merchants.

The card also has no annual fee or foreign transaction fees, and there's no security deposit. All your account activity gets reported to all three credit reporting agencies, which may help you increase your credit score over time.

Read full review

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

46 Rated 4.63 out of 5 stars, 46 Reviews

Apply

on Petal's website

Issued by WebBank

Recommended FICO® Score*

Fair, New to Credit, Rebuilding

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

46 Rated 4.63 out of 5 stars, 46 Reviews

APR

24.74% - 34.24% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

Rewards

None

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Variable APRs range from 24.74% - 34.24%
  • $300 - $5,000 credit limits
  • Earn a credit limit increase in as little as 6 months. Terms and conditions apply.
  • No credit score? No problem. If eligible, we'll create your Cash Score instead.
  • 2% - 10% cash back at select merchants
  • See if you're pre-approved within minutes without impacting your credit score
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees
  • Build credit alongside hundreds of thousands of Petal card members
  • Petal's mobile app makes it easy to manage your money, track your spending, and automate payments
  • Petal reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • No deposits required
  • Card issued by WebBank

Rates and Fees

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

If you have good credit and want to earn bonus cash back on your everyday purchases, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express can be a solid choice. The card offers 3% cash back on up to $6,000 spent per year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1%), on up to $6,000 spent per year on U.S. online retail purchases (then 1%), and on up to $6,000 spent per year at U.S. gas stations (then 1%). You'll also earn 1% back on all non-bonus spending. Terms apply.

The card doesn't charge an annual fee, but you can get up to $84 back in statement credits each year—that's $7 per month—when you use your card to pay for a Disney Bundle subscription, which includes access to Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+. (See rates and fees.)

New cardholders will also get a 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from the date of account opening, after which the APR ranges from 18.99%-29.99% Variable, depending on your creditworthiness.

You may be matched with this and other cards at Experian CreditMatch

Find Out If You're Matched

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card

If you have established good credit and you prefer simplicity, the no-annual-fee Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card can be a good option. The card offers a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make.

Additionally, new cardholders will earn a $200 cash rewards bonus when they spend $1,000 in the first 90 days, as well as an introductory 0% APR for 18 months on purchases and on qualifying balance transfers made within 60 days from account opening. After that, the APR is 17.74% - 27.74% Variable.

If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards customer, which requires that you have at least $20,000 in eligible accounts with the bank and its investment arm, Merrill Lynch, you can earn between 25% and 75% more cash back with your card. If you can maximize that perk, you can earn up to an impressive 2.62% back on every purchase you make.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Choose a Credit Card as a Recent College Graduate

With so many credit card options available, there's no single card that's best for everyone. As a result, it's important that you consider several factors to determine which card is right for you:

  • Review your credit score. Most of the best credit cards available require good or excellent credit, which typically means a FICO® Score of 670 or higher. Review your credit score to gauge your odds of approval for the cards you're considering.
  • Consider your spending habits. If you're looking at rewards credit cards, consider how each card structures its rewards program and pick the card that allows you to make the most of your everyday spending. If you spend a lot on groceries and gas, for instance, focus on cards that provide bonus cash back, points or miles on those expenses.
  • Define your preferences. Credit cards can offer a wide variety of rewards and benefits, so it's important to know what you want in a card. For example, if you prefer simplicity, consider going with a card that offers a high, flat rewards rate on everything. But if you want to maximize rewards, consider a card that offers bonus rewards in your top spending categories. Also, take a look at other card benefits and features to determine which one will give you the most overall value.

While it may be tempting to compare cards based on their welcome bonuses, make sure you pick the card that will give you the most value in the long run.

What to Do if You Don't Have a Credit Score

If you're just starting out with credit, focus your efforts on cards, such as the Capital One Platinum Credit Card, that are geared toward new-to-credit applicants.

There are also other credit cards out there that you can get approved for without a credit score, such as the Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card.

As you work to establish your credit profile, Experian Go™ can help you by providing resources to help you build healthy credit habits. You'll also get free access to your FICO® Score and Experian credit report so you can track your progress.

Do I Need a Job to Get a Credit Card?

You'll need to have a source of income to get approved for a credit card, and having a steady job can help improve your odds of getting approved. However, if you have access to sufficient income from other sources, a job isn't necessary to get approved.

The Bottom Line

Having a good credit card right out of college can help you to build your credit history and develop healthy credit habits. In some cases, you'll also be able to take advantage of great rewards and perks along the way.

If you're not sure where to start or you're concerned about applying for a card you're not eligible for, consider using Experian CreditMatch™ to get matched with credit card offers based on your credit profile.

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