Best Credit Cards for Building Credit

By Kevin / November 13, 2016
Credit Cards for Building Credit

Today we want to share our top credit card picks for people looking to build credit in 2016.

If you want to build or rebuild your credit, finding the right credit card can be tricky. This is because many cards require good credit for approval, but building your credit requires a credit card!

The good news is that there are now cards made specifically for people who are looking to build, or rebuild, their credit.

It's important to find a credit card that reports to the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Transunion. If this is the case, then using your card responsibly and paying your bill on time each month will demonstrate responsible credit use to other lenders and help to increase your credit scores.

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Our Favorite Cards for Building or Rebuilding Credit:

All of our recommendations are for unsecured cards. This means that an upfront deposit is not required like with some cards for bad credit or no credit.

All these credit cards provide for a grace period. If you pay your bills on time and in full, you will not incur any interest charges. We also took the time to screen out cards with hidden fees. 

If You Have Poor Credit or a Prior Bankruptcy:

Milestone® Gold MasterCard®

If you have a prior bankruptcy or other major credit issue, and want a real credit card as part of your arsenal to re-establish your credit, then check out the Milestone® Gold MasterCard®.

bad credit considered

The Milestone® Gold MasterCard® also is great if you have limited credit history.

What we like about this card are (1) no security deposit is required, (2) it has no hidden fees, (3) it reports your account history to all three major credit bureaus, and (4) you can see if you are pre-qualified online before you apply.

Using their pre-qualification tool will not impact to your credit score. Just remember, pre-qualification does not guaranty approval. However, if you pre-qualify, there is a very good chance you'll be approved when you apply.

What you get with the Milestone® Gold MasterCard®:

  • Quick pre-qualification available with no impact to your credit score
  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • Choose your custom card design - Free
  • Free online account access
  • Protection from fraud, if your card happens to be lost or stolen
  • Accepted at over 35 Million Locations Worldwide!
  • Previous bankruptcy OK

This card charges an annual fee of $35 - $99, depending on your creditworthiness.​

If You Have Fair Credit:

Milestone® Gold MasterCard®

There is a version of the Milestone® Gold MasterCard® geared toward those with fair or average credit.

Like the other version of the Milestone card, this on also lets you see if you are pre-qualified online before you apply. And using this tool will not impact to your credit score.

Just remember, pre-qualification does not guaranty approval; but, if you pre-qualify there is a good chance you'll be approved when you apply.

card for fair credit with pre-qualification tool

The Milestone® Gold MasterCard® is a great tool to build and access your credit.

  • Quick pre-qualification available with no impact to your credit score
  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • Choose your custom card design - Free
  • Free online account access
  • Protection from fraud, if your card happens to be lost or stolen
  • Accepted at over 35 Million Locations Worldwide!
  • Previous bankruptcy OK

This card has an annual fee of $35 - $99, depending on your creditworthiness.​

If You Want a Rewards Card:

There is good news out there for those with average or fair credit: you can qualify for a great rewards credit card!

CapitalOne QuickSilverOne Rewards

CapitalOne also offers a rewards credit card for those with fair or limited credit.

Yes, this card does come with an annual fee. But the good news is that the fee is a reasonable $39 per year.

CapitalOne QuickSilverOne Rewards Credit Card Review

Here is what you get with the QuickSilverOne Rewards card:

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back doesn’t expire and there’s no limit to how much you can earn
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Free access to your credit score and learn how everyday decisions can affect your score using Capital One® Credit Tracker
  • $39 annual fee.

If You Are a Student

CapitalOne® Journey Student Credit Card

The Capital One Journey Student card allows students to build credit with responsible use, and earn cash back at the same time.

favorite credit cards for bad credit

With Journey credit card, you will get:

  • 1% cash back on all purchases, plus 25% bonus cash back each month you pay on time (up to 1.25% back).
  • $0 annual fee.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • Get access to a higher credit line with Credit Steps after making your first 5 monthly payments on time.
  • Free access toy your credit score with Capital One Credit Tracker.
  • Online tool to see if you are pre-qualified.
  • Visa Signature Benefits like extended warranty protection, just like credit cards for those with great credit scores.
Discover it Student Card

If you're currently a student looking to build credit, we also recommend the Discover Student it Card.

What we love about this card is that unlike most student cards, it actually shares the same great rewards program as the standard Discover it Card.

build credit with a student credit card

So it's essentially like having a credit card that was created for people with excellent credit, although since it's a student card the interest rate is a bit higher.

As for the rewards program, with this card you can earn 5% cash back on popular spending categories that rotate throughout the year, and 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases. You can then redeem the rewards that you've earned for a statement credit or gift card.

Tips for Finding a Credit Card

Applying for a new credit card can be confusing, especially if you are looking to build or rebuild your credit.

I highly recommend reading this guide which explains the difference between terms like "Pre-Qualified" and "Pre-Approved" and shares some proven tricks that other CreditForums visitors have used to get the banks to say yes.

Another thing that's important to understand is that there are really two types of cards available if you are looking to build credit: secured cards and unsecured cards.

Secured cards are usually easier to get but require a deposit, many times in excess of $500.

This list primarily focuses on unsecured cards. This means that no deposit is required for approval for the cards mentioned here.

Important Reminder

It is important to remember that a credit card will not build your credit score. It is your actions with that card that matter. So remember that:

  • When using a credit card to build credit or for any purpose it's important to remember to pay on time and never charge more than you can pay for in cash.
  • Also keep in mind that cards for people who are building credit may be easy to get approved for but the tradeoff is that they usually have a higher interest rate than cards for people with good to excellent credit.

Also - If you need more clarification or have a question you can create a new thread in our credit cards forum. There are a lot of great people ready to help.​