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You can get your credit score for free if you know where to look. Here are eight ways to check your FICO score without paying a dime.

Get Your Credit Score for Free

Many consumers know that they can get a free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. But this report only shows your credit report, not your actual credit score.

When you go to get your free annual credit report, the credit bureau will likely ask if you want your numerical credit score. There will almost always be a fee involved with providing this to you.

It is useful to know this number, especially if you’re trying to increase it or plan to apply for credit. But did you know that you don’t actually have to pay for your credit score? More and more websites these days are offering them for free.

Before we dive into the details, let’s talk about one quick thing: you have more than one credit score. It’s confusing but true!

There are several different credit scoring algorithms, created by companies like the Fair Isaacs Corporation (FICO). These models each have a slightly different emphasis. They’re meant to give lenders the most relevant score for the type of loan you’re trying to obtain. And each of these models can be applied to each of your three credit reports, which typically contain slightly different information.

So if you look at your score through more than one of these free options, you’ll likely see slightly different numbers. That’s normal. You’re just getting an idea of what lenders will likely see when they pull your credit report and score.

Here are our eight favorites:

1. Credit Karma

This website specializes in providing consumers with a free credit score, updated monthly. Credit Karma is one of the more valuable options on this list. Most free credit score options are based on a credit file from just one of the three major reporting bureaus. Credit Karma offers scores based on both your TransUnion and your Equifax reports.

The free dashboard will tell you if your scores have changed recently. It will also cover the factors that influence your credit score, including your payment history, credit card utilization, and more.

Unlike many of the free credit scores named here, Credit Karma’s will give you access to your credit report details, including current credit card balances, derogatory information, and more.

Credit Karma is also helpful if you’re shopping for a credit card, as it will recommend cards based on your current credit score.

Try Credit Karma

2. Credit Sesame

Answer a few basic questions, and Credit Sesame will give you access to your TransUnion credit score for free. If you’d like to have all three credit bureau scores, you can pay $15.95 per month. You can also opt to pay $19.95 per month for access to all three bureau scores, along with credit monitoring and ID protection.

One interesting feature of Credit Sesame is its borrowing power estimate. It tells you how to apply for different credit cards that it recommends, as well as loans to borrow funds you may need.

Credit Sesame grades you on each aspect of your credit score, including payment history, credit usage, and account mix. It’ll give you details on problems in each of these areas, as well as ideas for how to improve your credit score. Quizzle also rates your debt-to-income ratio, based on self-reported income information. This isn’t included in your credit report, but is useful to know if you’re planning to apply for a major loan, like a mortgage.

Try Credit Karma

3. Quizzle

Quizzle’s score is based on the VantageScore model, which may look different from models based on the FICO scoring model. It’s still an accurate representation of your creditworthiness, though it may not be exactly what your lenders see if they prefer to pull a FICO score.

Quizzle DashboardLike the other options here, Quizzle’s score offers a variety of tools. It includes a credit summary that shows all of your different accounts and their balances. It also offers a complete overview, including credit utilization, available credit, length of credit history, and average age of accounts.

Quizzle’s “trending” feature allows you to track your progress in a variety of areas related to your credit score, including your actual score, available credit, balances, and more. This can help you see how you’re progressing with raising your credit score month over month.

4. Discover Scorecard

Even if you’re not a Discover customer, you can sign up for a free Scorecard account. This option will provide you with your Experian FICO score. You’ll get your actual numerical score, as well as a grade that compares your score to the rest of the U.S.

Discover Scorecard

Discover’s Scorecard will give you access to the various aspects of your score, including your open accounts, length of credit history, credit utilization, and missed payments. It’ll tell you what’s helping and what, if anything, is hurting your score. Discover offers several financial products, including personal loans. The scorecard will tell you if you might qualify for a lower-interest personal loan, which you could use to refinance higher-interest debt.

5. LendingTree

Sign up for an account with LendingTree, and you’ll get access to your free credit score from TransUnion. Similar to the other services, LendingTree will track your score over time, and will grade each aspect of your score. This includes negative marks on the report and your available credit. It’ll also give you specific ways to improve your credit.

Lending Tree Dashboard

Besides giving you recommendations for credit cards that fit your score, LendingTree will give you offers for personal loans and refinancing options. One of the interesting things about LendingTree is that it’ll give you specific ways to save, based on your current situation. For instance, it may tell you that you can refinance a specific personal loan to a lower payment. It’s a useful tool if you’re hoping to refinance your debts to pay them off faster.


This service is interesting because will show you both your FICO score and your VantageScore 3.0. This way, you can get some perspective on how they’re different. It’ll give you grades on the various areas of your credit score, including how you stack up to the average American.

Credit.ocm Dashboard will also create a customized plan for you to reach a higher credit score, and it’ll estimate how high your score could go if you followed the plan. For instance, your plan might tell you to have no late payments for a certain number of months and pay off an extra $X in debt each month. Then, it’ll tell you approximately how high your credit score should be at the end of that period.

7. Your Credit Card Company

More credit card companies are now jumping on the free credit score bandwagon. Your statement or online account may come with access to a free credit score. Some card companies, like Capital One, even offer a credit simulator tool, where you can “try out” different credit decisions to see how they could impact your score.

Credit card companies currently offering their customers free credit scores include Discover, Citi, Chase, Bank of America, Barclaycard, Commerce Bank, American Express, Capital One, First Bankcard, USAA Bank, US Bank, and the Walmart Credit Card.

8. Apply for Credit

As of 2011, lenders are required to provide customers or potential customers with a copy of the credit score the lender used, even if the customer is rejected for the loan or line of credit.

Applying for credit can ding your score. If you’re going to do it anyway, be sure the lender provides you with a copy of the score used.

Keeping track of your own credit score through your credit card company or these free methods will not harm your score, and may even help you bring it up more quickly. The only option listed here that will impact your score is applying for credit. So before you do that, use a free option to pull your credit score. That way, you’re more likely to apply only for credit for which you’re likely to be approved.


A Health Spending Account is a great way to pay for healthcare or save for retirement. To help, we’ve surveyed the very best HSA accounts available today.

best hsa accounts

It used to be that consumers didn’t have much choice when it came to HSAs. Many of these accounts were little more than dedicated-use high-interest savings accounts.

Now more options are on the market. And this means more investing options for your health savings account.

This makes choosing an HSA a bit more work. But that work can pay off in the end.

Just think of your HSA as a way to invest an additional few thousand bucks a year. If you’re healthy and don’t generally have high medical costs, that money can roll over from year to year. Invested wisely, it can grow tax-free. And as long as you use withdrawals for qualified medical expenses, those will be tax-free, as well.

This can make a big difference in retirement, when your medical expenses will rise naturally. (Old age eventually catches up with the healthiest of us!)

So you’ll want to put some work into choosing an HSA. Even if you have a convenient employer-sponsored option available, you can still go off-route with an HSA of your own. You’ll just contribute post-tax income, and then take the contributions as a write-off when you file your taxes.

Here, we’ll talk about what to look for in an HSA and outline some of the best options available on the market today.

What to Look for in an HSA: Two Options

Looking at an HSA is similar to looking at an IRA. You want to look at a couple of factors, including:

  • Fees: This is how much the account will cost you on a monthly basis, including any expense ratios. But you should also look at fees attached to trading or making new investment decisions within your account.
  • Investment Options: You’ll also need to consider what investment options are available. This used to be a big weakness with HSAs, but things are getting better. Several of the accounts we’ll highlight here offer IRA-like investing options, including mutual funds.

While both of these factors are important, they shouldn’t carry equal weight. Depending on your circumstances, you’ll need to look at one factor more than the other.

If you’re planning to spend down much of your HSA, look more closely at the fees–especially any potential per-transaction fees. If the money isn’t going to sit in your account for long, you don’t need to worry much about your investment options.

This would be the case if you have a sick individual in your family, or if you have young kids with constant doctor’s appointments. This would also be the case if you can’t afford to max out your account annually. Maybe you can only put in $500 or $1,000. That’s fine. But in this case, you should be more concerned with fees eating away at your account balance each month than with investing options.

If you’re planning to invest your HSA for the long run, be concerned about investing options. You should also be concerned about investing fees. After all, fees can quickly eat up your earnings within your account.

However, you’ll also want to look closely at the investing options. It can be worth paying some small fees for access to investing options that can far out-earn those fees. If your goal is to get a good return on your money, be sure your account gives you options that can do that.

If you’re closing in on retirement, you may also want to look at accounts with a wide variety of investing options. As you get closer to retirement, you may want to pull your investments from high-risk, high-reward investments to low-risk but stable investments. This is just like you’d manage your 401(k) or IRA.

How We’re Assessing HSAs

There are plenty of HSA options on the market. So there’s a chance that we missed a good one. If so, let us know in the comments.

We looked at data from a Morningstar study called The 2017 Health Savings Account Landscape. The study did a deep dive into HSA investing options and fees. We dug through this data–as well as data from a couple of other reputable roundups–to find the lowest-fee and best-investment HSAs.

First, we’ll talk about the low-fee options. Then we’ll dive into those with the best investing possibilities. Finally, we’ll highlight the account we think balances both the best.

Best HSA for Low Fees

So you’re one of those people who will likely use your whole HSA balance this year? In that case, you need to search for an HSA that has the lowest possible fees. Otherwise, your balance will slowly get worn away by expenses that are not medical expenses.

Saturna Capital

This administrator specifically focuses on HSA options for individuals. It has two account options–one that allows you to invest only in Saturna’s affiliated mutual funds and another that’s a self-directed brokerage HSA.

As you might guess, the first account type comes with lower fees. Saturna doesn’t charge any fees for account opening, account maintenance, statements, low balances, or closing your account. It also charges no fees for contributions, trades or exchanges, or account transfers.

In fact, the only fees Saturna charges are for wire transfers and overnight delivery of reimbursement checks. These rates vary, depending on the industry rate.

Saturna offers conveniences like the ability to invest directly from your bank account, redemption requests by phone or in writing any business day, and reimbursements into your bank account at no charge.

The one thing that Saturna is missing is a debit card or checkbook attached to your account. This is one of the reasons it’s able to charge such low fees. This can be problematic if you’re on a tight budget, as you’ll have to first fund the account, then pay medical expenses out of pocket, and then wait for a reimbursement. It sounds like reimbursements come quickly, but for a few days, maximum, you’ll basically have paid those medical expenses twice.

Still, even with this limitation, Saturna looks like an excellent option for consumers who want to spend down their HSA balances frequently. We’ll talk more about their self-directed account option in the section on investing.

Credit Unions

I actually came across loads of local credit unions in my search that offer very low–or even no–monthly maintenance fees on HSAs. They often specialize in FDIC-insured accounts earning a bit of interest based on average daily balance.

However, I’ve chosen not to list all the credit unions here because many have very specific eligibility requirements for members. But the bottom line here is that if you’re looking for a low-fee, no-frills HSA that you don’t particularly want to invest, check your local credit unions first.

Best HSAs for Investing Options

Of course, all good investors also care about fees. But if you want to invest your HSA funds for the long-term, it’s important to have investing options. Here are the accounts we think have the best ones.

One thing to note is that the individual investments you choose with your HSA funds may have fees of their own. Read this article to learn more about these types of fees, and be sure to pay attention to these as you choose invest.

Health Savings Administrators

This administrator offers first-dollar investing. So even if you start out contributing a few bucks a month, you can invest it. They don’t charge investment transaction fees, either, which can keep more of your money around for investing.

These accounts let you choose from over 100 investment options, including options from Vanguard, Dimensional, and Franklin Templeton, among others. The account investors should choose is the InvestorSelect option. It has a $45 per year administrative fee plus a 6.25 basis points per quarter custodial fee.

Health Savings Administrators’ transactional fees look pretty hefty, but you can avoid most of these fees.

Optum Bank

Optum Bank has relatively low fees, though its monthly fees are variable and difficult to suss out. But they do have a good variety of investing options, including access to the Charles Schwab target date funds.

It offers access to a variety of mutual funds, which you’ll find here. Optum does not charge trading fees, and all the funds are available without paying any fees. Again, you’ll have to check the fees for the individual funds you choose, though, as they will carry fees.

Best Balance of Both Worlds

What if you want a bit of both? You’ll spend some of your HSA each year, but you also want to invest it? These are the two accounts I think win out in that arena:


I actually stumbled on HealthEquity when looking for Alliant Credit Union. Alliant’s HSAs were the highest-scored option in the Morningstar spending account category. But they’re actually transitioning over to HealthEquity accounts in 2018.

According to their list of fees, there’s an account setup and monthly administration fees are typically paid by the plan sponsor. However, if you use one of these accounts independently, HealthEquity will charge up to $3.95 per month in maintenance fees.

You can use a debit card to pay your qualified healthcare expenses for free. Or you can order reimbursement checks, but those cost $2 each.

The interesting thing about HealthEquity is the variety of account types they offer. You can choose to keep your funds in an FDIC-insured account that earns a basic–pretty low–interest rate. Or you can invest in one of three account types:

  • Auto-Pilot: This account offers full service advice, automatic implementation and rebalancing, and portfolio alerts. It charges monthly service fees of .08% and monthly investing administration fees of .033%.
  • GPS: This account option splits the difference between full-service and self-directed. You can get some investing guidance from HealthEquity, but you’ll be primarily responsible for doing your own investing. You can, however, get portfolio alerts. The fees are slightly lower: .05% monthly service fees plus .033% investing administration fees.
  • Self-Driven: With this type of account, you’re totally on your own. You’ll have plenty of investing options, but you’ll be totally responsible for checking out your account and making choices. There are no monthly service fees, but the account still carries the monthly investing administration fees of .033%.

Saturna Capital

If you want to take complete control over your HSA investing and have lower fees, Saturna is, again, a great option. Again, it lacks some of the conveniences of other HSAs. But if your primary goal is long-term investment, that’s not a big deal. You could always invest for the long term with Saturna, then move your account to a spending-oriented, FDIC-insured account with a debit card when it’s time to spend down the money.

Saturna’s self-directed Saturna Brokerage HSA has very low fees. The only monthly fee is a potential inactive account fee if you have had no trades for the entire year. Other investing-related fees are charged according to this commission schedule. In general, trading online by yourself will be cheaper than broker-assisted trading.

Saturna offers a wide range of investing options. It’s a good choice if you’re planning to do very little shifting of your investments over the year, but want to invest for the long term.


50 Ways to build an emergency fund. Tips, tricks and strategies on saving more for emergencies and where to keep your rainy day money.

emergency fund

There’s a reason Dave Ramsey’s famous Baby Step #1 is to build an emergency fund. It helps people get on track for becoming financially independent.

I don’t agree with everything Ramsey says. But having at least a small emergency fund to begin with can be helpful. A basic emergency fund is a place where you keep cash for true emergencies, such as job loss or a broken-down car that would prevent you from going to work.

Ultimately, you’ll want enough cash in your emergency fund to cover all of your necessary expenses for a 3 to 6 month period. But any amount of money saved is a start.

Beyond the basics, I suggest at least five separate components to a complete emergency plan. Getting to that point presents challenges for many people. When you’re starting out, it can be difficult to assemble even the basics for eventual financial freedom.

Banking Deal: Earn 1.30% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Synchrony Bank.

But even if you’re hard-pressed for cash, you can still start an emergency fund. Here are fifty different ways to start saving today:

  1. Open a high-yield online savings account with as little as one dollar. This gives you somewhere to put your emergency funds, which is essential. And you might as well protect against inflation while you’re at it.
  2. Sign up for direct deposit. When you do, have part of your paycheck–as little as a few bucks–deposited right into your new online savings account. You won’t spend it if it doesn’t hit your checking account in the first place!
  3. Empty your pocket change into a jar every night. Then, put the change into your savings account every couple of months. Don’t spend much in cash? Try an app like Acorns that automatically rounds up your transactions to save your virtual change for you.
  4. Add to your jar every time you swear. Trying to break a bad habit? Tax yourself every time you do it. You’ll break your habit more quickly and save money while you’re at it.
  5. Have a garage sale. Selling off things you no longer want or need can get you started on the road to saving. Plus, it’s nice to de-clutter the house once in a while!
  6. Sell on Craigslist or Facebook groups. Bigger-ticket items may net a better price sold individually on Craigslist or your local Facebook garage sale group.
  7. Whenever you purchase groceries with a coupon, deposit your savings into the bank. This works especially well if you aren’t already in the habit of using coupons. Whenever you cut a few bucks off of your typical grocery bill, save the extra. You’ll never even miss it.
  8. Downgrade your cell phone or cable serviceThe best ways to save are options that let you keep saving money, month after month. Just be sure you put the money saved into your emergency fund every month!
  9. Bring your own lunch to the office. Say you typically spend $10 for lunch at work, but you can make a salad at home for $2.50. Every day you bring your lunch to work, put $7.50 into your emergency fund.
  10. Ask for a raise. Pull together your work performance stats for the past year or two. Then, get together with your supervisor, and lobby for a raise.
  11. Save your raise. If you do get a raise, don’t let lifestyle inflation eat it all up. Instead, have it automatically deposited to your savings account rather than your checking account.
  12. Drink soda rather than alcohol when you’re dining out. Buying even one drink at dinner can set you back $5 or more. Every time you downgrade your drink, throw the money you’ve saved into your emergency fund.
  13. Switch to store-brand food items. Get a feel for how much this cuts from your weekly grocery budget. Then save the extra cash.
  14. Switch to generic medication. Many times, doctors don’t mention generics, but you can switch to them if you ask. Again, keep track of how much you’ve saved, and add it to your bank account.
  15. Cut back or eliminate your addiction to smoking. Smoking has up-front costs, of course. But you’ll also save money on healthcare over time if you quit.
  16. Be aware of your ECRD FactorWhat are you spending money on that you could eliminate or cut back on? Find those areas, and then leverage them to save more money.
  17. Start a side gigWhatever your side gig, put any profit from it directly into your savings account.
  18. Use a cash back rewards credit card. Instead of putting the rewards towards extra spending, put them into your savings account.
  19. Save gas by not driving faster than 65 miles per hour. You can also save gas and be easier on your car by not braking too hard and by following other safe driving practices.
  20. Stop using credit cards if you pay interest. If you have trouble not carrying a balance, just stop using your credit cards.
  21. Cancel your Netflix subscription. Actually, look at all of the subscriptions you’re charged for monthly or annually–Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Spotify, etc. If you don’t use them enough to justify the costs, just cancel them.
  22. Do your own yard work. If you’re currently paying someone to do your yard work, start doing it yourself. You’ll get a workout and save some money.
  23. Visit the library rather than your local bookstore. Bookstores are great. But you can save so much money on reading material by renting it from the local library!
  24. Stock up on non-perishable groceries when they are on sale. Having a well-stocked pantry is essential to keeping your grocery spending lean. Get familiar with your local stores’ sales cycles, and stock up when you can.
  25. Cancel magazine subscriptions. If you have some must-read magazines, subscribing is better than paying more at the newsstand. But if you’re not reading those magazines cover to cover every month, cancel them.
  26. Reuse or repair things instead of replacing them. Then, take the money that you saved by not purchasing new, and put it into your savings account.
  27. Delay vacations until your emergency fund is complete. This is a tough one. But you should have at least some part of your emergency fund saved before leaving on vacation.
  28. Sign up for online bill payment if your bank offers the service for free. This will keep you from missing bills and paying late fees.
  29. Shop around to ensure all your your financial accounts do not charge you extraneous fees. In this day and age, you shouldn’t pay for the privilege of using a checking or savings account!
  30. Always know how much you have in the bank so your accounts will never be overdrawn. Money management and budgeting apps are a great option for helping your manage this.
  31. Use public transportation rather than driving when possible. Alternatively, consider biking to work.
  32. Work a few extra hours at your day job. If you’re paid hourly, you can earn extra to put into savings. If you’re salaried, impressing the bosses could net you a raise sooner rather than later.
  33. Call your insurance provider and ask for an updated quote. In face, you should shop around for insurance once a year. You never know when you’ll get a better offer!
  34. Crawl the web for abandoned and unclaimed property owed to youYou never know what you’ll find. Put any unclaimed cash straight into savings.
  35. If you travel, join AAA; the discounts will often pay for the membership fee.
  36. Cancel your gym membership. You can get a great workout at home with some free weights. And you can always get your cardio in by walking or running outdoors.
  37. Consider refinancing your mortgageIf you haven’t taken advantage of low interest rates, now is the time. You could save hundreds per month, depending on your circumstances.
  38. Cook and brew coffee at home. Cutting out a latte a day may not make you a millionaire. But cooking and brewing your coffee at home can save you a few bucks a day.
  39. Find opportunities for one-time income. Don’t have time for an ongoing side gig? Consider doing one-time income-earning opportunities like babysitting or house sitting.
  40. Check out your memberships. Are you a member of a professional club you don’t get much use out of? A local country club? Consider cutting out memberships that don’t really benefit you.
  41. Save your tax refund. In fact, you can have your tax refund direct deposited to your savings account.
  42. Adjust your withholding. Don’t want to wait until tax time to beef up your emergency fund? If you always get a refund, you could be having too much withheld from your paycheck. Talk to your HR department about adjusting your withholding. Then, put that extra cash from your paycheck right to your emergency fund.
  43. Stop eating out. Commit to only eating out for truly special occasions, such as birthdays. You’ll be surprised how much this could save over the course of a year.
  44. Consider a no-spend month. This Pinteresty trend is actually a great way to save money. You basically eliminate all but your essential spending for a full month. It can be an eye opening way to cut unnecessary spending long-term, too.
  45. Keep track of all of your spending. Sometimes you spend money without actually realizing it. Keeping track of all your spending, either with an app or by writing it all down, can help you pinpoint where you’re over-spending.
  46. Negotiate on everything. Whether it’s a retail store or your cable company, pretty much everything is negotiable.
  47. Share your home. Getting a roommate can really boost your savings. Or you can use Airbnb or VRBO to rent part or all of your house part-time.
  48. Save on energy. Take steps to make your home more energy efficient, and it’ll save you money month after month.
  49. Shop secondhand. Sometimes, you just have to buy stuff, whether it’s new cups to replace the ones your kids broke or a new pair of jeans. But these things don’t have to be brand new. Try shopping at online secondhand stores or your local Goodwill to save some serious cash.
  50. Celebrate milestones. Saving three to six months’ worth of expenses can take a while. So set some milestones–like your first $500 or $1,000–worth celebrating. (Just don’t blow a bunch of money on a fancy dinner out while you’re at it!)

With a goal to be financially independent, the first step is securing a cash cushion, accessible in emergencies. During this funding phase, it may be beneficial to make sacrifices that in other situations you would not make. A slight decrease in quality of life in the short term will likely outweigh long-term financial devastation when a future emergency arises.

Original published on April 14, 2008, this article was updated by the shizennougyou editorial team (five of us to be precise) on November 15, 2017.


Getting a credit card as a young adult is a big step. To help, we’ve researched the best first credit card options and how to make this important choice.

Getting your first credit card is a significant financial milestone. Maybe you’re a college student jumping into personal finance for the first time. Or maybe you’ve just never had a reason to get a credit card before. Regardless, you may be overwhelmed with all the options that are out there.

When it comes to getting your first credit card, I recommend first looking at your spending habits. Then, choose a card that offers the most rewards based on those spending habits. Here are three recommendations for first credit cards: one for general cash back, one for travel rewards, and one for gas rewards. I also discuss secured credit cards and student credit cards for your reference.

First Cash Back Credit Card: Discover it® Cashback Match™

Discover itLearn More

The Discover it® Cashback Match™ is a no-fee card that offers plenty of attractive perks. It’s an excellent choice for your first credit card if you’re looking to maximize your cash back rewards right off the bat.

You’ll earn 1% cash back on all credit card purchases and 5% cash back on new bonus categories each quarter. Currently, through December, the bonus categories are for purchases at,and Target–perfect for holiday shopping! What’s more is that new cardholders will get a “dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.” This makes it the perfect time to sign up for Discover it if you’re looking for your first cash back credit card.

Other perks include the ability to view your FICO® score for free each month on your statements. You’ll also have the ability to immediately freeze your account with an on/off switch (online or via the mobile app), should you suspect fraud.

Resource: How to Get Your Credit Report for Free

There’s no annual fee, no fee for your first late payment, no overlimit fee, and no foreign transaction fee. You’ll also pay no interest on purchases made during the first 14 months after opening this credit card.

First Travel Rewards Credit Card: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardLearn More

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is an excellent choice for first-time cardholders who plan to travel a lot. You’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend, regardless of category. One hundred miles is equal to $1 in travel rewards. There’s also a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles (equal to $400 in travel rewards) once you spend $3,000 on the credit card within the first three months of opening it.

In addition to having no foreign transaction fees, this credit card also offers the many perks that come with being a Visa Signature card. These include:

  • Complimentary travel upgrades
  • Complimentary concierge service
  • 24-hour travel assistance services
  • Special access to premier sporting events and concerts
  • Shopping discounts at select online merchants
  • Extended warranty on purchases

There’s an annual fee of $59, which is waived the first year. If you use this card often and take advantage of all the travel rewards, it should easily make up for the annual fee.

  • Learn more about Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card at

Best First Gas Rewards Credit Card: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Blue Cash EverydayLearn More

If you’re a frequent driver, you may be looking for a credit card that offers good gas rewards. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is the perfect credit card in this instance. You’ll receive the following cash back rates:

  • 3% cash back at the grocery store
  • 2% cash back at gas stations
  • 2% cash back at select department stores
  • 1% cash back on everything else

There’s no limit on the amount of cash you can earn, and it never expires. You can redeem your cash to your bank account, as a statement credit or in the form of gift cards. There’s also no annual fee.

Another perk of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is that you’ll get online access to view your FICO® score for free. This comes in handy for monitoring your activity, especially if you’re new to building a credit history

  • Learn more about Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express at

A Note About Secured Credit Cards

Secured credit cards require you to put down a refundable deposit as collateral. This deposit becomes the credit line for your card. Secured credit cards can help you establish or rebuild your credit history, and are useful if you have no credit or bad credit.

If you’ve been paying off a loan in your name or otherwise have some credit history, you may not need to get a secured credit card before applying for a regular credit card. Regular credit cards tend to offer more attractive perks than secured credit cards.

A Note About Student Credit Cards

Student credit cards are a great option for young people to get their feet wet with credit. I got my first credit card while I was in college and still have that credit card to this day. It’s a Wells Fargo cash back credit card.

Related: Best Credit Cards for College Students

Most credit card issuers offer at least one student credit card. These credit cards are often comparable to their other rewards credit cards but come with a low initial limit. As you establish your creditworthiness by making on-time payments, you’ll likely see your limit increase over time. If you’re in college, I highly recommend starting to build your credit now by getting a student credit card.

Final Thoughts

Getting your first credit card is an exciting time and the process shouldn’t be taken lightly. Which credit card you choose as your first can have a huge impact on your finances. If you choose correctly based on your spending habits, you can reap some great benefits such as travel rewards or cash back.

Once you receive your first credit card, remember to use it wisely. Only make purchases that you can afford to pay in full when the bill comes. Try to keep your credit utilization ratio low by not using more 30% of your credit card balance at any given time. Above all, enjoy the many perks that come with being a cardholder.


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