What credit card should my son get when he leaves home?

By , CardRatings contributor
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Question: Our son is leaving home and moving into an apartment. He has a part-time job. What credit card would be best for a young man to help build good credit?

Answer: Great question. There are a lot of good credit cards out there that would be ideal to help any young adult build credit. The CardRatings.com site has a lot of search tools that can help narrow down the choices to the ones that make the most sense.

If your son is paying rent and has only a part-time job, he's going to have to budget very carefully. The last thing he needs at this stage of his life is a big credit card balance. No matter which card he chooses, the quickest way to build credit is to pay off the balance every month without fail.

I'd recommend a card with no annual fee and a low interest rate. And if your son lives within his means and pays off the card every month, the interest rate may not matter as much.

  • Gas cards can be a simple way to build good credit if they are paid off each month. They typically don't require a long credit history.

If you run into roadblocks with these options, then take a look at secured credit cards, which can be an excellent way of building up a credit history. However, you have to front your own money to put on the card (say $200), and some secured cards come with steep fees and high interest rates. Also, before acquiring a secured card, ask the issuer which credit bureaus they report to. That reporting is what will build his credit history.

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