I'm in my late 20s with a credit score of 680. I'm looking to get my first credit card, one with cash back rewards.

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Q: I'm in my late 20s, with a credit score of 680. I'm looking to get my first credit card to increase my credit score, and I'm interested in cash back rewards. What's recommended?

A: You've made it this far without a credit card, but your good credit score indicates you must have at least a little positive experience managing your debt. While some lenders aren't ready to work with you, a few will be happy to let you build a relationship based on your income.

Without knowing much more about your financial history, I can guess that your 680 score comes from having a relatively "thin file." That's what credit bureaus nickname consumers who haven't opened up very many revolving credit card accounts.

You may have financed a car or set up your student loan, but maintaining an "open account" can help bounce your credit score into the 700s. But, don't let a fee-harvester company convince you to spend hundreds of dollars in service charges to get "the credit you deserve." Instead, I can suggest a few lenders who may want to work with you as you improve your credit profile, some of whom also offer you the cash back you're looking for. Chase, Citi and Capital One all have credit cards for good credit that offer reasonable interest rates and even offer solid rewards programs.

This credit scoring strategy works if you can manage to float a tiny, tiny balance from month to month. Just two or three dollars are enough to show credit bureaus that your account is active, but that you're paying down almost all of your balance every cycle.


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