APR rates and other account details in this blog are for informational purposes only and are accurate as of May 24, 2023. Check the latest account details and agreements before signing up for any credit-related product. The use of any third-party trademarks is for informational purposes only. Chime has no sponsorship, endorsement, or affiliation with any of the financial institutions referenced herein.
If you’re looking for the best credit cards to build credit, you’ve come to the right place. Building credit can be confusing if you’re new to credit reports and credit scores, but with the right combination of accounts, you can put yourself on track to an excellent credit score.
Keep reading for a closer look at how credit cards can help you build credit and which you may want to consider when you’re working to establish credit for the first time or turn around a negative credit history.
How credit building works
In the world of credit reports and scores, it takes credit to build credit. Many young professionals and recent immigrants to the United States don’t have a history of using credit cards or other types of loans, which makes it hard for lenders to know whether you’re likely to repay a loan balance as agreed.¹
Getting started when you’re new to credit or have a history of late or missed payments may require opening a new credit-related account ideal for someone in your financial situation.
To establish or rebuild your credit, you’ll need a quality account that shows up on your credit report. If you keep your credit card balances low and always pay them off by the monthly due date, you can see your credit improve. While it only takes a small mistake to ruin your credit score, building good to excellent credit takes time.
Here are some of the best options to build credit for your unique credit-building needs.
Quicksilver® Secured from Capital One®
Quicksilver Secured from Capital One offers 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase. Depending on your credit history, you may be eligible for a credit limit of $1,000 to $3,000, but you’ll have to deposit an amount equal to your credit limit, with a $200 minimum. The card has no annual fee.
After six months, Capital One will review your credit to determine if you qualify to upgrade to a non-secured card version. In that case, you would get your security deposit back, and the card would turn into the standard Capital One Quicksilver card. And if you don’t pay off your balance monthly by the due date, you’ll have to pay interest, with a rate of 30.49% APR.²
Who is this card for? This card may be best for someone looking for a secured cash back credit card with no annual fee.
|Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases
|Maximum credit limit determined by credit history
|Can convert to a non-secured version
|Credit limits up to $3,000
Chime® Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card
A Chime checking account is required to apply for Credit Builder. Chime checking accounts feature no monthly service fees, no overdraft fees, and no minimum balance requirements. In addition, Chime offers the secured Chime Credit Builder Visa Credit Card*, a secured credit card with no annual fees or interest charges.³
To use the account, transfer funds from your linked Chime checking account, which acts like a security deposit for your credit card.4 With the Safer Credit Building feature turned on, you automatically pay your balance in full each month.
Monthly payments report to the big three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Even if you only use the card for a few small monthly purchases, every on-time payment can help you get one step closer to your target credit score.5
Who is this card for? This card may be best for someone who wants to build credit with no interest charges, and the option to pay off your balance with your card’s security deposit.
|No annual fee or interest charges3
|No cash back or travel rewards
|Flexible security deposit4
|Linked checking account required
|Option to pay off balance with security deposit
Discover It® Secured Credit Card from Discover®
The Discover It Secured Credit Card is a unique secured credit card offering cash back rewards on all purchases. Credit lines are available from $200 to $2,500, with a required security deposit equal to your credit limit when opening an account.
After seven months, accounts are reviewed monthly to determine if you qualify to upgrade to a non-secured version and get your security deposit back.
Cardholders earn 2% cash back on the first $1,000 combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each calendar quarter and 1% on all other purchases. At the end of your first year, you earn a cash back bonus that doubles your total first-year cash back.
That means you’ll earn 4% back on bonus purchases and 2% back everywhere else for the first year. While the card has no annual fee, you’ll have to pay a variable 27.99% APR if you carry a balance from month to month.6
Who is this card for? This card may be best for someone looking for competitive cash back rates for their first year using a secured credit card.
|Earn cash back on all purchases
|Minimum $200 deposit to open an account
|Cash back doubled for the first year
|International merchants not as likely to accept Discover7
|Credit limit from $200 to $2,500
BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card from Bank of America®
Bank of America’s basic BankAmericard Secured Credit Card has no rewards or annual fee. As with other secured cards, a security deposit equal to your credit limit is required. BankAmericard Secured cards offer credit limits from $200 to $5,000, depending on your creditworthiness.
As a perk, cardholders can access their FICO® credit score, the most widely used credit score by banks and other lenders, for free.
Bank of America doesn’t specify a timeframe but periodically reviews your card usage, credit history, and other Bank of America accounts to determine whether you can convert to a non-secured version of the card. The card charges a variable 25.99% APR for remaining balances at the end of your monthly billing cycle.8
Who is this card for? This card may be best for someone looking for a simple secured credit card that includes access to a FICO credit score to track progress.
|Credit lines up to $5,000
|Minimum $200 opening deposit
|View your FICO credit score for free
|Potential to upgrade to a non-secured version
Petal 1 Card
WebBank® issues the Petal 1 card in two versions designed for those new to credit or rebuilding credit. The standard Petal 1 card has no annual fee and secured credit limits from $300 to $5,000. A security deposit is required equal to your credit limit. Petal 1 Rise requires a $59 annual fee and comes with secured credit limits from $500 to $3,500.
In addition to using your credit history to approve new accounts, Petal uses a unique Cash Score to evaluate transactions in a linked bank account and assess your income and spending habits.9 After six months of on-time payments, you may qualify for a credit limit increase.
Both cards offer 2% to 10% cash back at select partner merchants. That means you won’t earn cash back everywhere but can receive rewards on eligible purchases.
As with virtually all credit cards, you don’t have to pay interest if you pay off your balance in full by the monthly due date. Otherwise, Petal 1 requires a variable interest rate of 24.99% to 34.49% APR and Petal 1 Rise charges 28.24% to 35.49%.10
Who is this card for? This card may be best for someone interested in a credit card with high cash back rates that uses bank activity to assess creditworthiness.
|Up to 10% cash back
|Cash back is only paid for specific merchants
|Alternative method used to determine creditworthiness
|$300 or $500 minimum deposit required
|Credit limit increase after six months of on-time payments
|High variable interest rates
U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Secured Visa® Card
From U.S. Bank, the Altitude Go Secured credit card features travel rewards, an uncommon benefit for secured credit cards. The card has no annual fee and offers credit lines from $300 to $5,000, depending on the size of the security deposit you choose when opening the account.
The card includes 4x points on restaurant and restaurant delivery, 2x for grocery stores, grocery delivery, streaming services, gas stations, EV charging stations, and 1x everywhere else.
Rewards are redeemable for travel, merchandise, cash back, and gift cards. As an added benefit, you can get an annual $15 credit if you use the card to pay for an eligible streaming subscription. If you don’t pay off your monthly balance, the card requires a 19.99% to 28.99% variable APR.11
Who is this card for? This card may be best for someone who wants travel rewards from a secured credit card.
|Earn travel rewards points
|Minimum $300 security deposit
|$15 annual credit for eligible streaming services
|High variable interest rate
|Credit limits up to $5,000
Credit One Bank® Secured Card
The Secured Card from Credit One Bank pays you interest on your security deposit. Users earn 1% cash back on several popular purchase categories. You can earn rewards on gas, groceries, and monthly mobile phone, internet, cable, and satellite TV services. Rewards are not paid on other transactions.
Otherwise, this Secured Card is a fairly simple credit card with no annual fee and a variable interest rate of 28.99% APR. Security deposits start at $200, equal to your credit line limit.12
Who is this card for? This card may be best for someone looking to build credit with no annual fee and earn cash back in popular spending categories.
|1% cash back on popular spending categories
|Get cash back only on certain purchases
|Earn interest on your security deposit
|$200 minimum security deposit
|No annual fee
Many options exist for building credit
While some people have negative experiences with credit and credit cards, many others enjoy significant benefits from using credit. Perks can include cash back and travel rewards and an easier experience getting approved for new credit cards or other loans.
When weighing the options, learn how Chime Credit Builder compares to other credit-building cards.
What is the best bank to use to build credit?
Any bank or financial institution may offer accounts with features that can help you build credit. Consider required security deposits, fees, and potential credit card rewards. Also, look out for helpful features, such as the ability to pay off your card balance automatically or with your security deposit.
Can I build my credit with my bank?
You can build credit with your bank if you have a credit or loan account. Most borrowing-related accounts appear on your credit report. Following smart credit habits helps you build your credit score over time.
What account should I open to build credit?
There’s no perfect account for everyone’s needs, but you’ll likely find an account that’s best for your credit-building goals. Consider features like security deposits and account fees so you can pick the best account to build credit for your unique situation.