Study: Credit Cards for Young Professionals 2015
Read more about Life After College
Forget titanium. As a young adult, you want a credit card with good rewards and benefits but low fees. Use this list as a starting point.
In the past, being a young professional meant you had it made. Graduating college and entering in a white-collar profession used to result in steady employment, a solid paycheck, and time to enjoy the single life before you settled down to start a family. This status quo has changed dramatically in recent years.
Now, it’s a tough time to be a young professional. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 2 million college-educated workers were unemployed in 2014. No job puts a serious strain on these smart folks’ ability to save any money to reach family, social, and financial goals. And those who do have a job don’t feel the same sense of security that their parents did at workplaces where multi-decade stints were commonplace.
Even several years removed from the 2008 financial crisis, job uncertainty is a thing for many people, and employers have become stingy with 401(k) plan matching and even their willingness to keep people on as full-time employees. In increasing numbers, people under age 35 are forgoing traditional work environments and opting to work as independent contractors but are giving up some of their savings potential and access to employer-paid health care in return.
Where does all this change leave the young professional of today? More than ever they need to plan their spending carefully and take advantage of every cost-saving tool out there. They never know when they may be back on the unemployment line or feeling the effect of a cash crunch.
Using a Credit Card as a Money-Managing Tool
No matter what your employment status, having the right credit card in your pocket is a wise move. It can help you manage your cash flow when it’s not steady, but even better than that, it can help you actually save money, through the form of rewards and serious discounts on purchases when those rewards are redeemed.
For some twentysomethings, they may be picking out their very first credit card. There’s a lot to choose from, so we’ve put together a list of the credit cards that are a good fit for young adults.
By picking the right card for your goals, you’ll have an easier time making them happen.
What You Need to Know About Credit Cards for Young Adults
The ideal credit card for young adults is one that offers good rewards and benefits without rip-off fees. Sounds easy? But there's a ton of choices online and it's easy to fall into the trap of getting the wrong credit card.
Or applying, only to get declined.
Do you have a credit history? Have you ever had a credit card, a car loan, or a student loan? If you’ve never had a credit card, a car loan, or a student loan — you should read our guide on how to build credit. You'll probably need to start with a secured credit card or if you are still in college, a student credit card.
Otherwise, keep reading….
Methodology for Choosing the Right Credit Card
Here is what you should keep in mind:
IF YOU ARE A SMART SHOPPER
Now that you’ve finished school, it’s easier to appreciate how fast time goes by. The future comes quick and it’s important to be financially prepared.
By planning your spending ahead of time, you’ll be able to save money. Past categories have included restaurants and Amazon, so all you’d have to do is keep watch on the Chase Freedom cash back calendar and plan when your spending in those categories accordingly.
Plus, Chase Freedom offers a $100 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
But that's not all. It has a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After that, you’ll have a variable APR of 13.99% to 22.99%.
It's smart to always pay off your credit card balance in full each month, but sometimes life happens. With the Barclaycard Ring, at least the interest charges will be reasonable, since the card has a low 8% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers.
IF YOU HAVE FAIR CREDIT
Even if you don’t have excellent credit, you can get a good rewards credit card with no annual fee. The Barclaycard Rewards is available to people with fair credit. And it offers 2X cash back rewards on purchases for gas, groceries and utilities - and 1x cash back rewards on all other purchases.
There's no complicated setup. No redemption fees and no limits on the points you can earn.
Plus, it reports to all 3 major credit bureaus monthly — giving you an opportunity to build your credit. And as a benefit to active cardmembers, you can opt in to have complimentary access to your FICO credit score from your Barclaycard online account.
IF YOU ARE A WORLD TRAVELER
It’s the perfect time to travel when you’re young. You have the energy and enthusiasm to see exotic countries before you get tied up with family responsibilities or become too complacent when you are older. As a hard-working young professional, it’s also nice to get away from it all and go on vacation. Compare the latest travel credit card deals here.
Look for a travel card with rewards you can understand and that will bring you to closer to your travel goals. If you’re an overseas traveler, then watch out for cards that carry a foreign transaction fee (which applies to every purchase made outside the U.S.). If you like a particular airline or hotel chain, take a look at their cards to see how long it would take you to score a free flight or hotel stay. And also look into how easy it is to transfer points — if you are a frequent traveler, you really stand to benefit if you pay attention to both your earning and redeeming options.
YOU’RE WELL ON YOUR WAY
In young adulthood, you’re in charge of your destiny. And your credit card choices. That means planning out your goals and choosing wisely (we recommend looking over at least 3 cards before applying).
Welcome to the real world, and happy hunting.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.
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