build credit in your 20sWhile this information was accurate at the time this post was published, these cards’ offers and perks may have expired or changed over time. Visit our reviews of the best credit cards to find the right card for your needs.

Your twenties are a time for learning and growing as an adult, and that is especially the case when it comes to your finances. Building credit now means that you’ll have a solid foundation of credit history to leverage in your 30s and beyond when you want to buy a house, purchase a new vehicle, pay for your kids’ education and more. And if you want to do some of those things in your 20s, the earlier you get started, the better. Credit cards are one of the easiest forms of revolving credit for someone to obtain and use to build their credit — so long as you use your credit card responsibly, it can be a wildly effective tool to get you off to a great financial start. On top of the long-term benefits, credit cards can also be helpful in the interim, as many of them provide benefits and perks or earn rewards that can help save you some money. How do you choose the right card to help you build credit in your 20s?

Best credit cards to build credit in your 20s

Because everyone is a little bit different, we created a list of the best credits cards for people in their 20s, depending on what type of lifestyle they live or special needs they might have. Read on to find the perfect card for you.

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If you’re still in school …

College is all about preparing and working for your future, and a credit card designed for those living the student lifestyle is a great way to jump-start your financial future.

Discover it Student Cash Back

The Discover it Student Cash Back card accepts applicants with fair credit or better (usually credit scores of 620 or higher), and it earns a generous 5% cash back on purchases within select categories that rotate on a quarterly basis (up to the quarterly maximum, currently $1,500, then it’s 1% back). You do have to activate the categories each quarter, but Discover makes it easy to remember with email reminders and an easy-to-use website. Past categories have included things like gas, groceries, Amazon.com and restaurants — all the kinds of purchases most students are making. Plus, you earn 1% cash back on any purchase outside the quarterly categories. Another exciting feature of this card is the Cashback Match bonus, which takes all the cash back you earn in your first year and matches it. For example, if you earn $200 cash back in the first year as a cardholder, Discover will match that $200 to give you a total of $400 back. Students can also take advantage of a $20 statement credit each school year their GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years. You won’t have to pay an annual fee or foreign transaction fees, making this a great card to take with you when you study abroad, and there’s also a 6-month 0% intro APR on purchases (after that, the go-to variable rate applies).

Discover it Student chrome

The Discover it Student chrome is another top-grade option for students, earning 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to the quarterly maximum, currently $1,000, then it’s 1% back) as well as 1% cash back on all other purchases. Like the previously card, Discover it Student chrome also offers the Cashback Match bonus, meaning Discover will match all of the cash back you’ve earned in the first year as a cardholder. What’s more, cardholders will pay no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. As if that isn’t enough, new cardholders will receive a 6-month 0% intro APR on purchases (after that, a variable go-to rate applies).

If you’re stretching every dollar …

Whether you’re living paycheck to paycheck, trying to make ends meet as you figure out life on your own or you just want to maximize your money so you have plenty leftover to invest in your future, every dollar counts. Using a credit card that earns rewards on every purchase you make is a smart way to take your money further.

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

Another great option for cash back is the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express (a NextAdvisor Advertiser), which earns 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000/year in purchases, then it’s 1%), an uncapped 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% on everything else. Plus, spending $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months will earn you a nice $150 statement credit. The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express offers 15 months of 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers (note that there is a 3% balance transfer fee, $5 minimum), and it doesn’t charge an annual fee. The reward dollars you earn can be redeemed for statement credits, as well as gift cards, merchandise and travel. Want to get an even bigger bang for your buck? Grocery store champions should consider the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, which earns a whopping 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000/year, then it’s 1%) and an unlimited 3% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores — just be aware that it does charge a $95 annual fee. Both cards require good to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 700 or higher) for approval.

Discover it Cash Back

Rounding things out is Discover it Cash Back, which does things a little different than the previous two cards we’ve detailed. Rather than earning in set categories, cardholders can earn 5% cash back on purchases in categories that rotate on a quarterly basis (up to the quarterly maximum, currently $1,500, then it’s 1% back), such as groceries, gas, wholesale clubs, home improvement stores, Amazon.com and more. You do need to activate each quarter to ensure you earn 5%, but Discover reminds you when it’s time to do so. All other purchases earn the base 1% cash back. Discover plays the long game when it comes to its intro bonus, but it can be well worth the wait: all the cash back you earn in your first year as a cardholder will be matched by Discover at the end of the first 12 months — no signups or activation required. This means if you earn $150 back in the first year, Discover will match that $150 to give you a total of $300 back. On top of all this, you’ll get a 14-month 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers (after that, the go-to variable rate applies). There is a 3% balance transfer fee, but you won’t have to pay an annual fee or foreign transaction fees and Discover provides a host of benefits for all of its cardholders that you can enjoy — such as identity theft protection alerts and the ability to change your card design on a whim. The cherry on top is that this card, unlike most of the others we’ve detailed in this post, only requires average to excellent credit for approval (typically a score of 670 or higher).

If you’ve got a case of wanderlust …

Your 20s are all about finding yourself, and for many people, that involves taking to the skies (or the seas) to explore places both near and far. If seeing the world before you’re 30 is on your bucket list, you won’t want to leave home without a solid travel rewards credit card in your wallet.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit CardThe Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is one well-rounded travel rewards credit card, offering a plethora of perks in combination with an attractive intro bonus and ongoing rewards. You’ll earn an unlimited 2X miles on every purchase with this card, and from now until Jan. 31, 2020, you’ll also get 10X points for every dollar spent booking at Hotels.com/Venture. The intro bonus of 50,000 miles is equal to $500 in travel, and it can be yours when you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from opening your account. Redeeming your rewards for travel is a cinch — you can either call and book directly through the Capital One Rewards Center, or book your trip your way and use your miles to cover part or all of the cost with a statement credit. There is a $95 annual fee associated with this card; however, it’s waived your first year and you won’t have to pay foreign transaction fees when you’re globetrotting. Plus, you get access to a suite of Visa benefits, including complimentary concierge service, road assist service, travel and emergency service and extended warranty protection on items purchased with your card. What’s more, Capital One will give you up to $100 every four years to cover the cost of a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee — a must for frequent fliers. This card requires good to excellent credit (often considered a credit score of 700 or higher) for approval.

If you’re a young entrepreneur …

Starting a business is hard, but a business-specific credit card can help you get a leg up on the competition.

Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card The Ink Business Cash Credit Card offers strong benefits and features that make it an excellent choice for new and established businesses. Not only do you earn 5% cash back on office supplies, cable, Internet and telecom services (up to $25,000/year in combined purchases, then it’s 1% back), 2% cash back on gas and dining (up to $25,000/year) and 1% cash back on all your other expenditures, but you’ll also get a generous $500 cash back when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rewards can be redeemed for cash back as well as gift cards and travel. There’s a 12-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with a 5% balance transfer fee, $5 minimum) to get you started on the right track, and you won’t have to pay an annual fee with this card. Other perks and benefits business owners will love include free employee cards, purchase protection and extended warranty protection, plus a mobile app that lets you photograph and tag receipts for easy filing. You do need to have excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 700 or higher) for approval.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

Capital One® Spark® Cash for BusinessIf you’d prefer a business card that earns flat rewards, Capital One Spark Cash for Business is a solid choice, as it earns an unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, no categories or spending limits to be bothered with. Cardholders will earn a $500 cash back bonus when they spend $4,500 on purchases in the first 3 months. This card waives its annual fee — normally $95 — for the first year. Plus, you won’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees, making this a great card for any travel-savvy entrepreneurs. You can get extra cards for your employees free of charge, and cardholders will also benefit from purchase security, extended warranty protection and travel and emergency services. Not a fan of the annual fee? Check out its sister card, the Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business. Both cards require good to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 700 or higher) for approval.

If you’re carrying debt …

Maybe this isn’t your first time at the credit card rodeo, and you haven’t done so hot thus far. While nobody wants to carry credit card debt, or debt of any kind, it’s something that many will face at some point. Fortunately, a balance transfer credit card can be a good solution, as it allows you to move your balance from your current high-interest credit card to one with a long 0% introductory APR, giving you time to pay down the balance without worrying about interest piling up.

Citi Double Cash Card

Citi<sup>®</sup> Double Cash Card — 18 month BT offer The Citi Double Cash Card offers a lengthy 18-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers and charges a 3% ($5 minimum) balance transfer fee. There’s no 0% intro APR on purchases, but it’s a card you’ll want to keep around once your transferred balance is paid off, as it also earns rewards — 1% cash back on every purchase you make, plus an additional 1% when you pay off those purchases, for a combined 2% cash back on all your purchases. This essentially means you’re rewarded for paying your balance in full every month (note that balance transfers do not earn rewards), which is a great incentive for those looking to establish and maintain strong, healthy credit habits. There’s no annual fee for this card, and it requires good to excellent credit (often considered a credit score of 700 or higher) for approval.

If you’ve made some credit mistakes …

Let’s face it, sometimes you dig yourself into a really deep hole while you’re figuring adult life out. Whether you’ve defaulted on a credit card or loan, had a utilities bill get sent to collections or some other issue that has tanked your credit scores, you might think there’s no hope for you. Fortunately, there are credit cards designed to help people with poor credit (or no credit at all) build their scores up while using a card specifically designed with them in mind.

Discover it Secured

Discover’s answer to would-be applicants with below-average credit is Discover it Secured, a card that looks and works just like a regular, unsecured credit card, but has a line of credit that you secure by putting down a refundable security deposit of at least $200. This acts as a safety against you defaulting on your payments, and so long as you pay your bill on time, you’ll get the deposit back in full when the account is closed or changed. Monthly payments get reported to all three of the major credit bureaus, which helps improve your credit scores over time, and after 8 months, Discover will begin automatically reviewing your account to see if you are eligible to be transitioned to an unsecured line of credit. What’s more, this card earns rewards, putting it a cut above many other secured cards that are relatively no-frills. Purchases at gas stations and restaurants will earn 2% cash back (up to the quarterly maximum, currently $1,000, then it’s 1% back) and everything else will earn 1% cash back. Plus, you’ll benefit from the Cashback Match bonus, which matches all the cash back earned in your first year. This card doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fees, and you’ll get free TransUnion FICO scores on your monthly statements to help track your progress.

Credit One Bank Platinum Visa with Cash Back Rewards

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back RewardsNot loving the idea of a security deposit? The Credit One Bank Platinum Visa with Cash Back Rewards is an unsecured credit card designed for those with fair credit (usually a credit score of 620 or better). It earns 1% cash back rewards on every purchase, which is automatically posted to your account each month as a statement credit. Credit lines start at a respectable $300, and you can get opportunities to increase your credit limit down the road (fees may apply). Other cardholder benefits include multiple card designs to choose from, exclusive offers through Visa discounts and travel accident and auto rental collision insurance from Visa. Note that there is an annual fee of $0 to $99, depending on your creditworthiness.

Learn more about the cards mentioned in this post and plenty of others by reading our comprehensive credit card reviews.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.