9 Best Credit Cards For Young Adults In 2024

Erin Gobler
May 31, 2023
9 Best Credit Cards For Young Adults In 2024
9 Best Credit Cards For Young Adults In 2024

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Looking for the best credit cards to help you kickstart your financial journey as a young adult in 2024? Look no further!

We’ve compiled a list of the top 9 credit cards that cater specifically to the needs and lifestyles of young adults.

From cashback rewards to travel perks, these credit cards offer many benefits that can help you build credit and achieve your financial goals. So, what are you waiting for?

Let’s dive in and find the perfect credit card for you!

Best Credit Cards For Young Adults

Plenty of credit cards on the market are well-suited to young adults.

We’ve rounded up a list of 9 favorites based on the features they offer and what type of consumer they are best for.

Best For Students – Discover It® Student Chrome

Why we like it:

Annual Fees

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Regular APR

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Credit Required

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Annual Fees

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Regular APR

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Credit Required

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Why we like it:

  1. Builds credit history by reporting to all three major credit bureaus.
  2. No foreign transaction fees, making it an excellent option for students studying abroad.
  3. 0% intro APR on purchases for the initial six months, providing valuable financial flexibility.

The Discover it® Student Chrome credit card is perfect for young adults still in school.

You’ll get the following rewards when you spend with the Discover it Student Chrome:-

  • 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined gas station and restaurant purchases per quarter
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 2X cash back on your rewards earned in the first year

Pros

  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for the first six months.
  • Accessible to those without a substantial credit history.
  • Tailored cash back rewards for common student spending areas.
  • Generous Cashback Match program with no cap.

Cons

  • Ongoing APR is variable and may be higher than some other student cards.
  • Limited acceptance of Discover abroad.

Best For Everyday Spending – Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card

Why we like it:

Annual Fees

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Regular APR

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Credit Required

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Annual Fees

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Regular APR

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Credit Required

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Why we like it:

  1. Flexible redemption options, including statement credits and direct deposits.
  2. Contactless payment technology for quick and secure transactions, enhancing convenience.
  3. Access exclusive partner benefits and discounts, adding extra value to your card.
  4. Instant spending capability, providing quick and hassle-free payment options.
  5. Free access to Credit Journey for real-time credit score monitoring and alerts, empowering you to manage your credit health effectively.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the most popular credit cards for everyday spending, and it’s easy to see why. When you spend on this card, you’ll get cash back on all of your purchases, including elevated money back in specific spending categories:-

  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and delivery
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases

In addition to the cashback, this card comes with plenty of other perks. For example, when you spend $500 in your first three months after opening the card, you’ll get a $200 bonus. You’ll also earn 5% cash back on gas station purchases up to $6,000 in the first year.

This card is also great for large purchases and balance transfers. You’ll get 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers in the first 15 months when you sign up. Other card perks include purchase protection, extended warranty protection, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and rental car insurance.

Pros

  • Diverse and generous rewards structure
  • $0 annual fee
  • Lucrative sign-up bonus
  • Introductory 0% APR offer
  • No cash back expiration

Cons

  • Foreign transaction fee of 3%
  • Bonus rewards categories may require some management for optimal benefit

Citi® Double Cash® Card - 18 month BT offer - Best Cashback Credit Card for No Limits on Cashback Earnings

Why we like it:

Annual Fees

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Regular APR

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Credit Required

credit_score_needed

Annual Fees

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Regular APR

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Credit Required

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Why we like it:

  1. To maximize cash back, ensure at least the minimum due is paid on time.
  2. Introductory balance transfer fee of 3% for transfers completed in the first 4 months; after, it's 5% per transfer.

The Citi® Double Cash® Card is one of the most popular cashback cards on the market, thanks to its 2% cashback rate on all purchases.

With many credit cards, the elevated cashback rate only applies to investments in specific categories. But with the Citi® Double Cash® Card, it applies to all of your purchases. It also works a bit differently than other cards.

Instead of getting 2% back when you spend, you’ll get 1% back when you spend and 1% back when you pay off the purchase.

The Citi® Double Cash® Card is also great for anyone who needs a balance transfer. You’ll get 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months. Note that this special introductory rate doesn’t apply to purchases.

This card comes with a handful of other benefits, including identity theft solutions and special access to tickets for thousands of events, including presales.

Pros

  • 2% cash back on every purchase.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months.
  • Simplicity with no category restrictions.
  • Flexibility in redemption options

Cons

  • No sign-up bonus.
  • Limited travel benefits.
  • Foreign transaction fee.
  • Intro balance transfer fee.
  • Lack of bonus categories.

Best For Groceries And Dining Out – American Express® Gold Card

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(Terms Apply – Rate and Fees)

Why we like it:

Annual Fees

annual_fees

Regular APR

reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Credit Required

credit_score_needed

Annual Fees

annual_fees

Regular APR

reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Credit Required

credit_score_needed

Why we like it:

  1. No Foreign Transaction Fees
  2. Choice of Card Color (Gold or Rose Gold)
  3. 'No Pre-set Spending Limit' for enhanced flexibility
  4. Access to The Hotel Collection for room upgrades and hotel credits

If you’re a young adult who spends much of your budget on food, then the American Express® Gold card might be the right choice. This card offers an impressive 4X points on dining and restaurants, including takeout and delivery.

You’ll also get 4X points on groceries up to $25,000 per year, 3X points on flights booked through American Express, and 1X on all other purchases.

The points for your spending aren’t the only perk this card offers. You’ll get a welcome bonus of 75,000 Membership Rewards Points when you spend $4,000 in your first six months. Those points could be worth anywhere from 0.5 to 2.0 cents per point, depending on how you spend them.

Other perks the American Express® Gold offers include:-

  • $120 Uber Cash to be used for Uber Eats or Uber rides
  • $120 dining credit
  • Travel luggage insurance
  • Rental car insurance
  • No foreign transaction fees

Of course, all of these perks don’t come for free. American Express® Gold has the highest annual Fee of any card on our list at $250.

Pros

  • Strong rewards for dining and supermarket purchases
  • Valuable annual credits for dining and Uber usage
  • Flexible Membership Rewards program with transferable points
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Eye-catching welcome bonus

Cons

  • Higher annual fee compared to some other cards
  • Dining and Uber credits may not be as valuable for non-users
  • Limited value for individuals who don’t spend much on dining and groceries

Discover It® Cashback Credit Card - Best Cashback Credit Card for 5% Cashback on Rotating Categories

Why we like it:

Annual Fees

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Regular APR

reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Credit Required

credit_score_needed

Annual Fees

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Regular APR

reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Credit Required

credit_score_needed

Why we like it:

  1. Discover offers diverse cash back redemption options, from direct deposits to Amazon shopping, giving users flexibility in utilizing rewards.
  2. Young travelers benefit from the card's no foreign transaction fees, ensuring a cost-free international experience.
  3. Cardholders access their FICO score, gaining valuable credit insights for informed financial decisions and credit health monitoring.

The Discover it® Cash Back card offers a unique rewards structure in that you earn higher rewards in bonus categories, and the bonus categories change each quarter. They rotate through grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and online purchases throughout the year.

When you spend in the bonus category for that quarter, you’ll get 5% cashback. For all other purchases, you’ll get 1% cashback. Finally, Discover will match your cash back dollar for dollar after the first year, meaning you’ll double your rewards.

The other major perk of the Discover it Cash Back card is the introductory APR. You’ll pay 0% on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months when you sign up. This feature makes it an excellent card for large purchases and balance transfers.

Pros

  • Discover’s automatic cashback match in the first year offers substantial rewards for new cardholders.
  • The absence of an annual fee ensures no additional costs for users.
  • The introductory APR period on purchases and balance transfers allows for managing expenses without interest charges.

Cons

  • Users need to remember to activate the 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter.
  • There’s a quarterly maximum on the 5% cash back, requiring careful spending to maximize this benefit.

Best For Balance Transfers – Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

Why we like it:

Annual Fees

annual_fees

Regular APR

reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Credit Required

credit_score_needed

Annual Fees

annual_fees

Regular APR

reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Credit Required

credit_score_needed

Why we like it:

  1. Up to $600 cell phone protection with a $25 deductible when you pay your bill with the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card.
  2. 24/7 emergency services like roadside assistance, towing, and locksmith via Roadside Dispatch®.
  3. Earn cash back through personalized deals with My Wells Fargo Deals, aligning with young adults' financial preferences.

That brings you to 21 months with 0% APR, which is longer than you’ll find with any other card. During that time, you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest and fully pay off your credit card debt.

Pros

  • Extensive 0% intro APR period for both purchases and balance transfers.
  • No annual fee, making it a cost-effective option.
  • Valuable additional features like cellular phone protection and roadside assistance.
  • Access to personalized deals through My Wells Fargo Deals.

Cons

  • After the intro period, APR rates may be on the higher side, so it’s crucial to manage balances responsibly.
  • Lacks ongoing rewards, which might deter users seeking long-term benefits beyond the initial promotional period.

Best For Travel Rewards – Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card​

Why we like it:

Annual Fees

annual_fees

Regular APR

reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Credit Required

credit_score_needed

Annual Fees

annual_fees

Regular APR

reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Credit Required

credit_score_needed

Why we like it:

  1. $50 annual credit for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® provides tangible savings.
  2. The 10% bonus on total purchases made in the previous year during each account anniversary adds a nice extra.
  3. The absence of foreign transaction fees makes it a suitable companion for international travel.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a great option if you’re looking to upgrade to a credit card with travel rewards. When you sign up, you’ll get 60,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first three months.

Those points are worth $600 in cash, and with the Sapphire Preferred, points are worth 1.25 the value if you redeem them through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. So your $600 bonus suddenly becomes $750.

In addition to the welcome bonus, this card offers several different ways to earn points, including:-

  • 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on other travel purchases
  • 3X points on dining, including delivery and takeout
  • 3X points on online grocery purchases
  • 3X points on streaming services
  • 1X points on all other purchases

Because it’s a travel credit card, the Sapphire Reserve offers travel perks such as no foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, rental car insurance, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, and travel and emergency assistance services.

Finally, you’ll get protection on your transactions, including purchase protection against damage or theft and extended warranty protection.

Pros

  • Lucrative rewards program with bonus categories relevant to young adults.
  • Valuable sign-up bonus and anniversary bonus.
  • Flexible redemption options, including 1:1 transfer to travel partners.

Cons

  • While the annual fee is reasonable for a premium card, it may not be ideal for those seeking a no-fee option.
  • The APR range may be higher for those with lower credit scores.

Best For Low Credit Scores – Capital One Platinum Secured

Why we like it:

Annual Fees

annual_fees

Regular APR

reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Credit Required

credit_score_needed

Annual Fees

annual_fees

Regular APR

reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Credit Required

credit_score_needed

Why we like it:

  1. CreditWise Monitoring offers free access to track one's credit score, a crucial tool for those focused on building credit.
  2. 24/7 Account Access ensures convenient management of accounts from both desktops and smartphones, anytime, anywhere.

If you’re rebuilding your credit score and need a credit card that can help, consider the Capital One Platinum Secured

Pros

  • No annual fee or hidden charges.
  • Flexible initial security deposit options, starting as low as $49.
  • Opportunity for an automatic credit limit increase.
  • Minimal fees, including no foreign transaction fees.
  • Potential for future account upgrades to unsecured cards.

Cons

  • Relatively high variable APR of 30.74%, so it’s important to pay your balance in full to avoid interest charges.
  • Late payment fees are applicable, but they can be avoided with timely payments.

Best For Entrepreneurs – Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Why we like it:

Annual Fees

annual_fees

Regular APR

reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Credit Required

credit_score_needed

Annual Fees

annual_fees

Regular APR

reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Credit Required

credit_score_needed

Why we like it:

  • With a 3% foreign transaction fee, it's important to be aware of this cost for international business transactions.
  • The ability to issue employee cards at no additional cost is a useful feature for businesses with multiple team members.
More and more young adults are choosing to start their businesses rather than enter a traditional corporate career. You might like the Chase Ink Business Unlimited® card if you’re a young entrepreneur.

This card offers $750 cash back when you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months. You’ll also get 1.5% cash back on all of your assets. And as a bonus for business owners just starting,

Ink Business Unlimited offers 0% APR for the first 12 months. You can make any big purchases necessary to start your business and then pay them off over a year.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Lucrative sign-up bonus
  • Straightforward rewards system
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months
  • Flexibility in redeeming rewards

Cons

  • Foreign transaction fees may impact businesses with international dealings
  • Potential for higher APR after the introductory period

How To Choose The Best Credit Card For Young Adults?

As a young adult, a credit card can go a long way in helping you to build a financial foundation, especially when it comes to building a credit history and growing a solid credit score.

But many young people rush into getting a credit card and don’t give it the necessary thought. Unfortunately, this can lead to getting a credit card that doesn’t offer the right benefits or getting yourself into credit card debt.

If you’re ready to apply for your next (or first) credit card, here are some tips to help you:-

(1) Check your credit score:

One of the most critical factors determining your credit card eligibility is your credit score. Most credit cards are available to borrowers with good credit or better, but some are specifically designed to serve lower-credit borrowers. On the other hand, some credit cards only accept applicants with excellent credit.

When you apply for a credit card, it appears on your credit report as a hard inquiry. To avoid having unnecessary hard questions appear on your credit, check your credit before applying for any cards to ensure you use only those with a good chance of acceptance.

(2) Look at your spending habits:

Every credit card offers different perks and is best suited to people with specific spending habits. For example, some credit cards offer higher cash back on restaurant purchases, while others reward you for travel. Some provide rewards in the form of cashback, while others allow you to redeem your points for flights and hotels.

Ultimately, the best credit card for you is the one that aligns well with your spending habits and will offer the most significant rewards value. With a quick internet search, you can find credit card rewards calculators that will use your spending habits to tell you what benefit you can expect from different credit cards. Those calculators can be great starting points if you’re unsure which card suits you best.

(3) Understand the rates and fees:

The last thing you want is to get hit with unexpected interest charges. Before signing up for a credit card, carefully read the terms and conditions, so you know what it will cost you.

First, pay attention to the interest rate on each card and whether they offer an introductory APR period. It’s best to pay your credit card in full each month and avoid carrying a balance. But if you must take a balance, look for cards with that introductory APR so you can have extra time to pay off a large purchase or balance transfer.

Additionally, while most cards on our list don’t have an annual fee, many do. Be sure to budget for that Fee and calculate the benefit you get from the card to ensure the benefit outweighs the cost of the Fee.

Conclusion

Each credit card on our list is well-suited to young adults, offering some key benefits that will be perfect for specific borrowers. Whether starting a business or just building your credit for the first time, we’ve included a card that can help you. Follow the tips above and research each card before applying to ensure you find the best card for your situation and spending habits.

FAQs

The best credit card for a young professional will depend on their spending habits and financial goals. However, credit cards with rewards programs and low or no annual fees are often good options for young professionals.

Again, the best credit card for a 25-year-old depends on their financial situation. However, credit cards that offer rewards for everyday spending, such as groceries or dining out, and low-interest rates may be good options for this age group.

A secured credit card may be a good option for someone just starting. Secured credit cards require a cash deposit, which serves as collateral, and can help establish a credit history. Some credit cards specifically designed for those with little credit history may also be good options.

The legal age to get a credit card is 18. However, those under 21 may need a cosigner or provide proof of income to be approved for a credit card.

Those under 21 can get a credit card, but they may need a cosigner or proof of income to be approved. The Credit CARD Act of 2009 requires credit card companies to evaluate the borrower’s ability to pay before approving a credit card application.

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