Best Starter Lines of Credit

Let's get straight into it. When it comes to starting credit cards, there is a lot of option. Many have various sign-on bonuses, subscription costs, and credit requirements. Because of how specific a card may be for a specific person's needs, I'll go through the top 3 choices for anyone. Not any of these cards are better than the other per se, rather one may make more sense than another to a student based on various criteria.


"Bank of America Signature Customized Cash Rewards Card - Visa"


This was my first credit line. The main reason I went with this was:

  • A Bank Of America Account Holder

  • High Density of Supporting Location near my campus

There's another variation of this card that's also a feasible choice for fellow undergrads and that is the Travel Rewards line. In my personal opinion, however, I would start with the Signature Rewards line and explore travel rewards as a secondary. The reward options for the card pictures are as follows:


$200 online cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening 3% cashback in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings 2% cashback at grocery stores and wholesale clubs 1% cashback on all other purchases Earn 3% and 2% cashback on the first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter in the chosen category, and at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, then earn an unlimited 1% thereafter No expiration on rewards To change your choice category for future purchases, you must go to Online Banking, or use the Mobile Banking app. You can change it once each calendar month, or make no change and it stays the same.

For the Travel Rewards line, the options are as follows from Bank of America:

25,000 online bonus points, a $250 travel or dining statement credit value, after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all purchases everywhere, every time
Flexibility to redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel and dining purchases

No expiration on your points

No blackout dates No booking restrictions No foreign transaction fees†




 


Discover it Student Cash Back


This line of Credit is definitely one of the most appealing lines for students.


Some of the pros for this card include:

Get $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next five years. Get $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next five years.Discover it® Student Cash BackCapital One Journey Student Rewards Credit CardBank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for StudentsGet $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next five years.
Get an unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically See issuers' websites for their new cardmember bonuses Get an unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically See issuers' websites for their new cardmember bonusesDiscover it® Student Cash BackCapital One Journey Student Rewards Credit CardBank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for StudentsGet an unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com6, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. See rewards for compared and similar cards Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal{rewards-paypal}, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. {see-all-rewards}Discover it® Student Cash BackCapital One Journey Student Rewards Credit CardBank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal{rewards-paypal}, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Redeem your rewards for cash in any amount. Redeem your rewards for cash in any amount.Discover it® Student Cash BackCapital One Journey Student Rewards Credit CardBank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for StudentsRedeem your rewards for cash in any amount.yesyesno
Redeem your rewards for cash at any time. Redeem your rewards for cash at any time.Discover it® Student Cash BackCapital One Journey Student Rewards Credit CardBank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for StudentsRedeem your rewards for cash at any time.yesnono
Your cash back never expires Your cash back never expiresDiscover it® Student Cash BackCapital One Journey Student Rewards Credit CardBank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for StudentsYour cash back never expiresyesyesyes
Use your rewards instantly at Amazon.com checkout Use your rewards instantly at Amazon.com checkoutDiscover it® Student Cash BackCapital One Journey Student Rewards Credit CardBank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for StudentsUse your rewards instantly at Amazon.com checkoutyesyesno
Use your rewards instantly when you pay with PayPal

There are limitations to this line of course. For example, APR after 6 months for late payments becomes a variable 12.99% to 24.99%, which can pile on quickly with debt if you don't watch your bills. The cashback match at the end of the year may make up for this, however, that incentive only lasts the first year of ownership of the card. Along with that, the good student incentive has a max of 5 years, so if you're looking to take that on in grad school, unfortunately, you're out of luck.


In my view the Discover it card is one that is a great option as a starter line, but one I would eliminate later on.




 


Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card


This card is one of the best options if you're looking to build to greater lines of credit using the same provider, Chase.

This Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card for Students offers the following:

$50 Bonus: This product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months. You will receive 5,000 bonus points with this bonus offer, which can be redeemed for $50 cash back. To qualify for and receive your bonus, your First Purchase must occur during the first 3 months from account opening. (“First Purchase” does not include balance transfers, cash advances, travelers checks, foreign currency, money orders, wire transfers or similar cash-like transactions, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, race track wagers or similar betting transactions, any checks that access your account, interest, unauthorized or fraudulent charges, and fees of any kind, including an annual fee, if applicable.) After qualifying, please allow 6 to 8 weeks for bonus points to post to your account. To be eligible for this bonus offer, account must be open and not in default at the time of fulfillment.
Earning Cash Back & Points: Rewards Program Agreement: For more information about the Chase Freedom Student rewards program, view the latest opens in a new windowRewards Program Agreement (PDF). We will mail your Rewards Program Agreement once your account is established. If you become a Chase Online customer, your Rewards Program Agreement will also be available after logging in to chase.com/ultimaterewards. Cash Back and Points: “Cash Back rewards” are the rewards you earn under the program. Cash Back rewards are tracked as points and each $1 in Cash Back rewards earned is equal to 100 points. You may simply see “Cash Back” in marketing materials when referring to the rewards you earn. How you can earn points: You’ll earn points when you, or an authorized user, use a Chase Freedom Student card to make purchases of products and services, minus returns or refunds. Buying products and services with your card, in most cases, will count as a purchase; however, the following types of transactions won’t count and won’t earn points: balance transfers, cash advances and other cash-like transactions, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, race track wagers or similar betting transactions, any checks that access your account, interest, unauthorized or fraudulent charges, and fees of any kind, including an annual fee, if applicable. 1% Cash Back: You’ll earn 1% Cash Back rewards for each $1 spent. 5% total Cash Back on qualifying Lyft rides through 03/2022: You’ll earn an additional 4% Cash Back rewards for each $1 spent when your card is used for qualifying Lyft products and services purchased through the Lyft mobile application through 03/31/2022. Qualifying Lyft products and services include rides taken in Classic, Shared, Lux, or XL modes; bike and scooter rides; and subscription and membership products. Purchase of gift cards, car rentals, vehicle service centers, miscellaneous fees, and other Lyft products and services are excluded from this promotion. Future Lyft products or services may not be eligible for additional Cash Back. You may see “5% Cash Back rewards ” in marketing materials to refer to the 4% Cash Back rewards earned in addition to the 1% Cash Back rewards earned on all purchases. The additional 4% Cash Back rewards will appear on your billing statement in a separate line from the 1% Cash Back rewards. Lyft is not responsible for the provision of, or the failure to provide, Chase benefits or services. $20 Good Standing rewards: You’ll receive 2,000 points, which can be redeemed for $20, after each account anniversary year for the first 5 years. To qualify for Good Standing rewards each account anniversary year, your account must be open and not in default, as defined in your Cardmember Agreement, at the time of fulfillment. “Account anniversary year” means the year beginning with your account open date through the anniversary of your account open date, and each 12 months after that. After qualifying, please allow 6-8 weeks after each account anniversary year you qualify, for Good Standing rewards to post to your account. How you can use your points: You can use your points to redeem for any available reward options, including cash, gift cards, travel, and products or services made available through the program or directly from third party merchants. Redemption values for reward options vary. Points expiration/losing points: Your points don’t expire as long as your account remains open, however, you will immediately lose all your points if your account status changes, or your account is closed for program misuse, fraudulent activities, failure to pay, bankruptcy, or other reasons described in the terms of the Rewards Program Agreement.
Automatic Credit Limit Increase: You will be eligible for an automatic credit limit increase after you make 5 monthly payments on time within 10 months from account opening. Only one payment per billing cycle qualifies. Payments must be at or above the minimum due amount indicated on your statement and a zero balance on any statement will not qualify as an on-time payment for this offer. Any late payment or other increase in your credit limit within the 10 month period disqualifies you for this offer. After qualifying, please allow 8 to 10 weeks for your increased Credit Limit to be available. Account must be open and meet our credit criteria at the time of fulfillment.




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