Building your credit? A smarter card could help.

These credit cards can be a great money-saving tool — and they’re easier to qualify for than standard cards.

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Credit Building Cards

A good credit score could save you (potentially lots of) money

You can leverage great scores into great deals — on loans, credit cards, insurance premiums, apartments, and cell phone plans. Bad scores can hammer you into missing out or paying more, while good or excellent credit can add up to some pretty significant savings. For example, you could save:

$86,065 in interest on a $350,000 mortgage with a credit score of 750 or above compared with someone scoring 630-689, according to NerdWallet calculations using interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate loan in July 2023.

$3,251 in interest on a five-year, $41,000 auto loan with a score of 720 or above, versus someone scoring 660-689, from FICO calculations using July 2023 rates.

$885 in interest on a three-year personal loan of $10,000 when scoring 720 or above compared to someone scoring 630-689, based on anonymized offer data from NerdWallet's lender marketplace.

Building credit takes time — so start today

Showing a consistent, long-term record of on-time payments is what building credit is all about. Payment history is the single biggest factor in your credit score — which is why it’s so important to get started ASAP on building your credit.

Whether you’re dealing with a financial setback, a student without credit history, or just looking to build credit, these Nerd-approved cards can be a big-time help — especially if you use these credit-building tools in a savvy way. Plus, these cards are typically easier to qualify for than standard credit cards.

What kinds of credit-building cards are out there?

Secured cards

These cards require a cash security deposit, which makes them easier to get with bad credit or no credit history. The deposit is typically equal to your credit limit, and you can get that money back when you move up to a regular credit card.

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No-deposit starter cards

You don’t need to put down a security deposit for these cards, but keep an eye out for ones that come with hefty fees or that don’t report to the three main credit bureaus.

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Student cards

Straightforward starter cards for people who are still in school, student credit cards work like a standard card, and many offer rewards. Like all starter cards, they generally require access to income in order to qualify.

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Start practicing these healthy credit habits ASAP with your new card

A few simple practices can help build your credit over time:
• Pay your bill on time every month. Pay in full when possible to avoid interest, but always pay at least the minimum.
• Keep your balance low — below 30% of your total credit limit is great, and below 10% is ideal.
• Avoid applying for multiple credit accounts in a short span of time.
• Keep your card account open — at least until you've established a solid credit history.

In addition, regularly check your credit report to make sure there aren’t any errors that could be bringing down your score. (Signing up for a NerdWallet account can help you stay on top of that.) And remember, building credit takes time. So start today with one of these Nerd-approved cards.

No-Deposit Starter Cards

Student Cards

Secured Cards