What Are the Best Credit Cards for Building Credit?

If you have bad credit or scant credit history, you might face an uphill battle getting approved for a credit card, or other credit products. Fortunately, there are ways to build credit from the ground up. Student and secured credit cards cater to consumers who want to build or rebuild their credit. Using these cards responsibly by making on-time payments and keeping your spending in check can put you on the road to better credit.

Student Credit Cards

Student credit cards are specifically designed for college students with limited credit history. They may offer no annual fee, introductory APRs, cardholder benefits and perks such as a rewards program geared toward the needs of college students.

Introductory 0 percent APRs, for example, can allow you to make purchases without accumulating any interest on the purchases during the introductory period. But, if you’re approved for a student card, be sure to make at least the minimum payment due on time each month. The credit card issuer will likely report your on-time payments to the credit bureaus, which may help you to start building your credit history as you responsibly use the credit card. Student credit cards may also provide rewards programs, including cash back or points.

Secured Credit Cards

If you have a poor or limited credit history, getting approved for a traditional credit card may not be possible. One effective strategy for building or rebuilding credit is, instead, using a secured credit card. Secured credit cards differ from traditional, unsecured cards in that they require a cash deposit that is used as collateral. Your credit limit will usually equal the amount of this deposit. Many secured credit cards report activity to the major credit bureaus, so paying your balance on time and in full each month can help you build a credit history. Some cards will even review your account after you’ve had a chance to demonstrate responsible use of the card to see if you qualify to receive your security deposit back and transition – or graduate – to a traditional, unsecured card.*

Whichever credit card you choose, it’s important to remember: a bad credit history does not necessarily mean a bad credit future. Even if you’ve struggled to make payments in the past, there are plenty of options to help you get back on track. It’s never too late to start paying attention to your credit score. Remember, one of the most effective strategies for positively managing your credit is making consistent, on-time payments of at least the minimum payment due and keeping your balance as low as possible. Student and secured credit cards give you the flexibility and opportunity to show your commitment to responsible credit management.

Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.

Monthly reviews start your seventh month as a customer. We will refund your security deposit if you have made all payments on time for the last six consecutive billing cycles on all your Discover accounts including any loans, and you've remained in “good status” on all credit accounts you are responsible for whether they are Discover accounts or not. “Good status” means: (1) your credit report shows no delinquencies, charge-offs, repossessions, or bankruptcies for the six months prior to our review; and (2) your Discover Secured Card is not in a prohibited status at the time of our review, including, but not limited to: closed, revoked, suspended, subject to tax levy, garnishment, deceased, lost/stolen, or fraud. Monthly reviews may be delayed if you change your payment due date.  We typically process your refund in 2-3 business days based on your delivery preference. If you close your account and pay in full, we’ll return your deposit within two billing cycles plus ten days.