These are the 5 best credit cards for beginners, says Graham Stephan


Graham Stephan is a popular financial YouTuber who helps ordinary people build wealth. He recently posted a video sharing his five favorite beginner credit cards for 2024.

Here’s what that list looks like.

Discover It® Security

A secured credit card can help you build credit when you don't qualify for a regular card. Stephen says many of the fees and terms are terrible, but the Discover It® Secure Card is surprisingly good.

Here's how it works:

  1. You apply for and submit a refundable deposit, starting at $200.
  2. You can use the card like a regular credit card.
  3. If you do this responsibly, you can eventually qualify for an unsecured card and get your deposit back.

The great thing about this card is that it gives you rewards just like a regular credit card. For example, you can get 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, plus unlimited 1% cash back on everything else.

This card also has no annual fee. So you don't have to pay anything to build credit—as long as you pay off your bill on time each month and don't accrue interest.

Stephen says that when you put it all together, it's hard to find a better credit card for beginners.

Petal Visa Card

Next on Stephan's list is the Petal series of Visa cards. These cards are not secured, so you'll need to have a solid credit score to qualify. However, there are several options to choose from, including the Petal 1 Rise, which is perfect for beginners.

The neat thing about Petal is that it's very transparent about what it takes to increase your credit limit. The company's Leap plan lets you automatically increase your credit limit within six months. You just have to pay on time for that long. This differs from other companies, which often don't clearly describe how to increase your limits.

Some other highlights include:

  • Up to 10% cash back at designated merchants
  • Beginner credit limit up to $3,500
  • There are no fees for the Petal 2 card

Note that Petal uses the variable APR. This means your rates can change suddenly and without warning based on the company's risk assessment. You can avoid this effect by paying your bill in full every month.

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card

Wells Fargo's Active Cash Card is the next credit option Stephen recommends for beginners. It has no annual fee and offers unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. This means you don’t need to worry about categories or quarter starts to earn rewards.

The Active Cash Card also offers a strong introductory offer for new users. For example, if you purchase $500 in the first three months, you will receive a $200 cash bonus.

Wells Fargo also offers a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months you have the card. After the term expires, the interest rate becomes a variable annual rate, ranging from approximately 20% to 30%.

American Express Blue Cash Everyday®

Stephan also recommends the AMEX Blue Cash Everyday card for beginners.Like the Wells Fargo card, the card has a 0% APR for the 15-month introductory period and thereafter . You can also earn 3% cash back on many everyday purchases, including:

  • groceries
  • Online retail purchase
  • gas

Additionally, this card provides access to American Express’ “Plan It” program. It's a bit like buying now and paying your credit card bill later.

With Plan It, you can break large purchases into monthly installments and pay a flat fee while still earning rewards points. This is helpful when you need to buy something expensive but can't pay right away.

Chase wins three in a row

Stephen's last suggestion is his most complex. The so-called “Chase Trifecta” is actually a combination of three separate Chase credit cards – Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Sapphire Reserve.

You can use all three cards together to increase the rewards you get on every purchase. Here's how it works.

The trifecta starts with the Chase Freedom Flex card, which offers 5% cash back in many categories. Rewards will accumulate in your Chase profile, where you can eventually apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card.

This is similar to Freedom Flex, but you get 5% back on any travel purchased through Chase Travel. Also earn 1.5% back on all purchases.

Eventually, you'll qualify for the Chase Sapphire Card. This is Chase's premium credit card. It offers some of the best rewards in the industry, including bonus points for flights, hotels, and car rentals.

Stephen admits it's a complex program that may not be suitable for everyone. But if you're determined to use your credit card to get free stuff, he says it's one of the best ways to do it.

Important notes on using credit cards

Credit cards can allow you to spend more than you budget. It may be dangerous. When you do this, you end up paying for your past future.

For example, if you can't afford a laptop today, but if you put it on a credit card, it could destroy your budget for the next 12 months. This makes it very difficult to succeed financially.

That's why it's important to stick to your budget even after you open a new credit card. Try to pay your bill in full each month. You can still earn rewards this way, but it won't complicate your financial future.

last shot

Stephen's list of credit cards for beginners has something for everyone:

  • If you're just starting to build credit, the Discover It Secured card may be your best option.
  • If you want to work toward a higher credit limit, one of the petal visas may be a better fit.
  • Or, if you're committed to taking full advantage of your credit card's rewards, maybe you'll pursue the Chase Trifecta.

Ultimately, the best credit card for you will depend on your goals and where you are in your credit journey.

All information regarding Amex Blue Cash Everyday Card offers is independently collected by GOBankingRates and has not been reviewed or approved by American Express. The Blue Cash Everyday Card cannot be purchased through GOBankingRates.

Information related to Chase card offers is collected by GOBankingRates and has not been reviewed or provided by the product/card issuer. Product details may vary. Please refer to the issuer's website for the latest information. GOBankingRates does not charge commission on these products.

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