2017 Top Credit Cards for Recent Graduates

Rank: Baboon | 121

I am entering the consulting world this summer and I am looking at getting a credit card, preferably cash back rewards, when I start working. What are some of the top options out there currently and it would be great if anyone could list things such as credit score needed, annual fees, reward options, and anything else deemed important? I plan on paying it off each month so the interest rates aren't a huge concern. I would also love to hear of any experiences any of you have had with a certain card. Thanks!

Comments (103)

 
3/2/17

I like Chase's products. I would recommend google searching "credit card forums." There is a pretty active one related to Fico that will answer all your questions.

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3/2/17

Chase Sapphire Reserve. Assuming they still offer the 100k point bonus.
I'm not a huge cash back fan, because MOST cards don't offer enough for me to find it worthwhile compared to getting the points. But if you really want cash back, I think one of the Capital One venture cards was good.

Check The Points Guy website. You'll find everything you need on there.

...

 
3/2/17

I think the reserve just killed their 100k points. The spg amex is offering 35k for like 3k spend. With the merger of Marriott , spg points are epic.

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3/2/17

Chase Shappire Reserve is everything you want in a personal card and more. Chase points are viewed as one of the more valuable point currencies, and 3x on travel and food is ideal. They used to offer 100,000 bonus points if you spent 3 or 4 grand in the first 3 months, but they lost so much money that they had to bump it down to 50,000 points - still worth it. You get a priority pass lounge access for you and UNLIMITED guests (not unlike the Amex platinum). Some of the consultants actually modeled the higher earning cards out and the reserve was the clear runaway winner. Don't be deterred by the $450 yearly charge.

Keep spending :) (no I didn't get paid by Chase to write this)

EDIT - Not to mention the $300 travel credit...

 
3/2/17

Huge Chase guy I see, and thanks for the insights! You definitely think the reserve is the better move than the $450? I kinda have the same thought process as you in the $450 becomes a small cost when you're getting great benefits.

My first project is local, but I know my group travels so I definitely want to maximize that.

Array
 
3/2/17

Sorry the regular card I mean

Array
 
3/2/17

Huuuuge Chase guy, believe me (make consulting great again). The $450 is nothing when considering the benefits. The only comparable card would be the Amex Platinum or perhaps the delta reserve card, but then you are limited to Delta flights with your points purchases.

 
3/2/17

Agreed, the Chase Sapphire Reserve by a wide margin. Even without the the 100k sign-up bonus I still think its head and shoulders above the other Premium travel cards. The $300 travel reimbursement is extremely lenient in terms of what it covers and for dining and travel the ultimate rewards multiplier means your effectively getting 4.5% back on spend in those categories-- assuming you redeem it for travel through their portal which is easy to navigate and fairly painless.

 
3/2/17

Don't forget to sign up for relevant hotel / joint reward programs (e.g. Uber + SPG)!

 
3/2/17

Key is to get a new credit card every 4 months or so. Start with the Chase ones since they have that stupid 2 year rule.

 
3/2/17
impossibru:

Key is to get a new credit card every 4 months or so. Start with the Chase ones since they have that stupid 2 year rule.

This doesn't make sense.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
3/2/17

The best way to get more credit is to have credit. I started out with a Cap One back when I was 20, and have gotten new cards every 4-6 months. Then when I applied for Citi/Barclaycard/Chase/Amex/BOA premium cards I got massive limits. Sitting on almost 60k in credit right now. That's kind of what impossibru was eluding to.

 
3/2/17

Yep 2 reasons why to get new credit cards:
1) major factors of credit score include # accounts and utilization %, both of which become more favorable with more cc's; although some of this is offset by decrease in avg length of account history
2) free money from signup bonuses; $500+ worth of points every 4 months is not bad

 
3/2/17
JB1995:

Starting at a bay area based practice this week, and I want to get a personal credit card that will help me maximize my points I'll receive from traveling for projects (my group travels a decent amount.) I currently have a Discover Student Card and a Platinum Corporate Amex.

Sorry this is kind of a vague post, but if anyone has strong views in regards to a personal card to pair with a corporate Amex I'd appreciate the insights. Side Note: Credit Score is strong I've had my discover card since last winter and have perfect with paying all balances off.

Check out the app Birch Finance. Started by a friend of mine. Helps you do exactly this

I used work in Insurance in a back office role and am now trying to move up in my career the hard way, would love to give you advice if you are finding success in finance isn't coming very easy to you either.

 
 
3/2/17

Go get the chase ink business card. 80k points once you hit minimum spend and they have a great cell phone program. Chase UR points are easily transferred and worth like 1.4 cents a point.

Masters in Finance HQ - The #1 site for everything related to the MSF degree!
MSFHQ

 
3/2/17

Thank you for the feedback, I was thinking about going with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The ink business is good but I feel like alot of the bonuses I wouldn't use. I would like some rewards with gas, dining, etc.

 
3/2/17

Pick the Sapphire Reserve if you want travel/dining rewards.

That being said, wouldn't it make more sense to choose a card with bonus categories aligned with these transactions or use a combination of cards? I don't know of any that offer a higher point accrual rate specifically for paying off loans. However, the combination of Chase's Freedom Unlimited and the Sapphire Reserve cards would be better for buying a car than the latter alone if you intend to redeem the rewards for travel/dining. You'd get 2.25 points (1.5 x 1.5) per dollar redeeming them in this way versus 1.5 using just the Sapphire Reserve.

Keep in mind, I don't know the maximum limit offered on a Chase Freedom Unlimited, but that may not matter because car dealers (assuming you're going this route) typically allow a buyer to charge up to $5,000 to a credit card. You'll probably want to call the card issuer and car dealer ahead of time.

 
3/2/17

Ya there isn't any rewards for paying off loans. I really appreciate the feedback and the opinion. I don't know too much about point and rewards for credit cards, and the best way to redeem it. I already have the freedom unlimited. Just want to know the best way to combine the cards or redeem the points. Was thinking sapphire preferred or American Express gold, but heard that chase was better. Would love more options and opinions.

 
3/2/17

Chase points are worth more and have more travel partners. The CSR also has 3x on food and travel, whereas the amex really doesn't have many bonus categories. I have most of the big cards and put the majority of my spend on CSR, then Citi and finally Amex.

Masters in Finance HQ - The #1 site for everything related to the MSF degree!
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3/2/17

Get amex platinum or csr if they are in the 75k-100k sign up area... that could mean 165k points right there. Keep in mind as others had said, Chase will probably start you at a 5k credit limit and although amex does not have a limit on card, a new card probably won't let you spend more than 10k in a month or so. I'd call up and see if they can approve you for a higher credit limit or something based on proving savings account or assets, salary.

Edit: I believe amex has a car buying program, look into that

 
3/2/17

is the sapphire reserve that much better then the preferred? I have a hard time justifying that annual fee for the reserve

 
3/2/17

It's 450 with a 300 airline credit. Buy a flight and you get it instantly. Do you have pre check or global entry? If not you get that free. The points have a good valuation so they bonus is worth anywhere between 675 and up.

End of the day it's essentially a 150 a year fee. If you make 15,000 points that covers the fee (assuming a super conservative 1 cent per point valuation). That's basically 5k in food and/or travel spend. Pretty achievable.

And this doesn't value the flight delay insurance, car rental insurance, extended warrantee, etc etc.

I probably pay 2500 in fees for my cards and get multiples of that in benefit back. It's all about how you work it.

Masters in Finance HQ - The #1 site for everything related to the MSF degree!
MSFHQ

 
3/2/17

Thank you for the breakdown. will have to look at both of them more in detail. Will def go with the preferred or reserve.

 
3/2/17

Buy it all on debt and wait for your loans to be paid by someone else

 
 
3/2/17

I've had three finance jobs and all three issue regular Amex green charge cards so I have the Amex Gold card as my personal card so I can combine my points. For example, I charged over $100k on my corporate card over the past 18 months as I have been traveling to Europe a lot for different deals so I am able to combine those points with my personal Amex points.

However, I know people that have used myriad other non-Amex points cards as they want cash back or airline mile rewards cards or whatever. Just personal preference.

 
3/2/17
WSO1212:

I've had three finance jobs and all three issue regular Amex green charge cards so I have the Amex Gold card as my personal card so I can combine my points. For example, I charged over $100k on my corporate card over the past 18 months as I have been traveling to Europe a lot for different deals so I am able to combine those points with my personal Amex points.

However, I know people that have used myriad other non-Amex points cards as they want cash back or airline mile rewards cards or whatever. Just personal preference.

I have an amex platinum delta card....I'm starting consulting in the fall and will get a green amex. Can I combine the points with these two, or do he combinations only work for non-airline amex cards?

 
3/2/17

Why does it matter your gonna be an IBD analyst? Unless I'm mistaken I don't think Amex issue special IBD cards?

 
3/2/17

some cards may be more appealing given certain lifestyles, due to the types of rewards etc.

 
3/2/17

That's what I use too. Given I barely drive and all food is covered under my corporate card, a lot of credit cards with normally good rewards aren't that great as gas/restaurant/groceries points are pretty much useless.

Plus I'm lazy and 2% back on everything is easy.

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3/2/17

Amex SPG + Chase Sapphire Preferred is a common consultant combo (i.e. 80% of my class use them). CSP gives you 2X points for dining, taxi, airfare, rental car, etc. And you get to transfer Ultimate Rewards point from CSP to airlines.

I've also seen Amex SPG + Amex Premier Rewards Gold combo. Caveat there is that not everybody takes Amex, and the annual fee is higher.

 
3/2/17

What's the benefit of having both as opposed to just one?

 
3/2/17
humblebot:

What's the benefit of having both as opposed to just one?

There are two dimensions to it.

1. Your'e maximizing the returns on your spend. Amex SPG gets you only one Starwood point per dollar unless your'e using it to book SPG hotels. CSP gives you 2 UR points per dollar spent on the categories I mentioned above. (You also get a 7% dividend on points you accumulated in any given calendar year, even on the ones you've redeemed.) Same goes for PRG.

2. You're not tying yourself down to one rewards program. Most people I know redeem their points for travel, and each program is limited to its partner airlines/hotels. So you have more options in the airline/hotel brand you can use points for. You're also hedging against any devaluations in the credit card's point system or in their partner airlines'/hotel brands' point system (e.g. United's recent devaluation for business class upgrades for international travel.)

 
3/2/17

Gotcha thanks. So just to clarify, you're using SPG for hotels and CSP for literally everything else?

 
3/2/17
humblebot:

Gotcha thanks. So just to clarify, you're using SPG for hotels and CSP for literally everything else?

Also interested to hear the answer to this, if any current consultant could specifically speak to how they use their cards and for what.

 
3/2/17

Simple.
SPG for hotels (unless you are staying at a place w/o an SPG hotel, then get creative)
Corporate Amex for car rentals and little things you can't be bothered to enter into expense system (the only policy they care about since it allows your colleagues to drive it too)
CSP for everything else business (airfare, food, cabs)
Then use SPG for everything else personal.

Come expense time, hotels are easy to track w emailed folios, get your CSP credit card statement and expense every item, then pull your corporate car rentals. Voila. Saves you at least an hour each month. Now depending on your firm, office and client, you might not even need to submit receipts. I got to know my finance guy super well, bought him christmas gift and drinks first year, now basically each time I do my expenses, I just print off my credit card statement from CSP, and attach that instead of keeping those above 50 receipts. But have heard it would only work in my office though. YMMV.

 
3/2/17

I never understood why people that want travel rewards dont just get a Venture Card. Visa is taken everywhere unlike Amex and you can use it for literally any travel expense (baggage fees, hotels, cabs, etc.) Are the rewards with other products that much better?

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

 
3/2/17
happypantsmcgee:

I never understood why people that want travel rewards dont just get a Venture Card. Visa is taken everywhere unlike Amex and you can use it for literally any travel expense (baggage fees, hotels, cabs, etc.) Are the rewards with other products that much better?

For Amex SPG, starwood points and status are worth more than the 2x points on Venture for starwood stays. Once you hit gold you get 3x starwood points and a bunch of other bonuses. Plus crossover rewards and transfer bonuses, etc.

As compared to CSP, I actually don't know. Venture looks like a good deal.

 
3/2/17

I dont know about Amex but there arent black out concerns or anything either. Plus you can allocate to any part of travel. Just curious. Dont want to miss out on them sweet benefits.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

 
3/2/17
happypantsmcgee:

I never understood why people that want travel rewards dont just get a Venture Card. Visa is taken everywhere unlike Amex and you can use it for literally any travel expense (baggage fees, hotels, cabs, etc.) Are the rewards with other products that much better?

Because with you can get higher redemption value on Chase UR, SPG, and Amex MR points by transferring it to airlines and getting a free international flight on saver awards (for free coach flights or upgrade to business). I almost always use my points for those (or SPG award/cash+award nights for SPG points).

UR also can be racked up even more quickly by:

1) Using their UR mall (where you can get 7-10 points per dollar on popular websites)
and/or
2) Combining it with something like a Chase Freedom, which gives you 5x on certain categories then transferring UR points on Freedom to your CSP account.

 
3/2/17

I'm going to rock SPG Amex + CSP when I start next year. I've also heard that the Platinum Amex is, in certain cases, worth the $450 annual fee if you actually use the benefits (the reimbursement for airline purchases and TSA's global entry program almost cover the annual fee).

 
3/2/17

Careful though since starting march you lose AA and US airway lounge benefits with Platinum.

 
3/2/17

Starwood Amex for hotels, MileagePlus Visa for flights (mostly United), corporate Amex for all business expenses

 
3/2/17

Question:

Why don't people use the fidelity amex - 2% cash back monthly direct deposit into your account or fidelity Visa - 1.5% CB, more often?

I understand SPG Amex because it can net you 2-4% depending on how you spend your points, but rather than dicking with points and redemptions with CSP, I would think the following spend is best:

@ SPG = amex SPG
Everywhere else amex accepted = Amex Fidelity
Everywhere where amex not accepted = Visa Fidelity

cash in bank is better than points, plus you earn a higher overall rate with the flat 2% back with no category bullshit gimmicks...

thoughts?

 
3/2/17
Ko77:

Question:

Why don't people use the fidelity amex - 2% cash back monthly direct deposit into your account or fidelity Visa - 1.5% CB, more often?

I understand SPG Amex because it can net you 2-4% depending on how you spend your points, but rather than dicking with points and redemptions with CSP, I would think the following spend is best:

@ SPG = amex SPG

Everywhere else amex accepted = Amex Fidelity

Everywhere where amex not accepted = Visa Fidelity

cash in bank is better than points, plus you earn a higher overall rate with the flat 2% back with no category bullshit gimmicks...

thoughts?

The earnings category and redemption options are not that complicated... It doesn't take that long to figure it out.

The key to high value redemption, again, is transferring it to airlines and using it for saver awards/upgrades internationally. You can get 4+% returns on your spend if you do this.

Of course, the caveat here is that you travel internationally once a year or more. Most of consultants I know would have done that trip anyway, so they get cards with points. But if your lifestyle doesn't fit that criteria, you should certainly go for the cashback option.

 
3/2/17

Citi Forward for 5x points on restaurants and entertainment
AMEX Blue Cash Everyday for 3% on groceries, 2% on dept stores, 1% everything else
BofA for 3% on gas
Discover for 5% rotating categories and ShopDiscover
United MileagePlus... mainly for 50,000 miles signup

 
3/2/17

Don't forget that Amex SPG gives you 5000 extra miles for every 20,000 miles you redeem!

 
 
3/2/17

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3/2/17

cool thank you :)

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

 
3/2/17

Statement balance. HOWEVER that assumes that your credit card gives you 30 days to pay with no interest.
Make sure to read the fine print.

  • If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you've hired an amateur
 
3/2/17

Honestly, I'd rather just pay the full balance than go read the fine print on all my cards. Is that a safe assumption to make for all major cards? If it weren't, I'd be seeing monthly interest charges even if I pay on time, right?

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

 
3/2/17

The statement is correct. But for maximizing your FICO scores you need to have at least 2 cards reporting with only one reporting a balance up to 9% (and paying the statement date will cover that basis).

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

 
3/2/17

You can always set it up on auto pay of what ever is due.

 
3/2/17

I don't do autopay for anything because I'm a control freak and I have several bank accounts and streams of income and sometimes an account might be empty. I just have due dates on Google Calendar and when I make a payment, I put that in my calendar too with the confirmation number.

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

 
3/2/17

Ah ok, I too run a few different bank accounts, but have a central checking account that covers my mortgage, credit cards, checks and links to all the other accounts for quick transfers.

 
 
3/2/17

A question that should go to your onboarding specialist but at Deloitte you should use your corporate card, if you don't have it yet they recommend personal card but keep the receipts.

 
 
3/2/17

Absolutely. You can get a card from anywhere, but yeah the limit will probably be very low since you probably don't yet have a credit rating.

 
3/2/17

Yeah try and get a student credit card. They have like a 400-2000 credit limit. It's going to be on the low side thou as credit card companies are being hit hard atm.

 
3/2/17

You should be able to get a Capital One card. Limit will be 500 or 1000 at most. Also, talk to the bank that you currently deal with to see what options you have.

 
3/2/17

Go to the closest bank, tell them this summer you'll be making $5,000/month and pray that they'll give you a good limit, otherwise you'd have to start at $300.

Idk why some students are afraid of credit cards. Just gotta control yourself.

 
3/2/17

In 2003 when I was a freshman in college I got a platinum card with a starting limit of $1000 that I didn't even apply for, with no income at all. Ah the days of subprime lending.

 
3/2/17

get one. and pay it off each month to build up yuor credit. will help you in the long-run especially when you are looking to get a place in the city in the future or in any point where people are cehcking your credit

 
3/2/17

Although you probably won't qualify, start off with the Amex Green card.

 
3/2/17

I recommend getting a credit card since you will probably need it as a SA. Just remember to use it responsibly as most have ridiculous interest rates now. Your limit will also suck for the first 6 months (i.e. <$1000).

 
3/2/17

I recommend getting a credit card since you will probably need it as a SA. Just remember to use it responsibly as most have ridiculous interest rates now. Your limit will also suck for the first 6 months (i.e. <$1000).

 
3/2/17

Which airline does your bank use as a partner? Get started with a United Mileage Plus Visa or an AAdvantage MasterCard if you want. I believe they each have student / entry-level cards as well -- at least United does.

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3/2/17
phpmvk:

.

Stop it, you retard. We get it. You want to talk about credit cards. One thread is enough.

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

 
3/2/17

@ACPH

Wells has a nice student credit card program.

 
 
3/2/17

Do you know what your Net Worth has to be before being invited/given an American Express Centurion Card? A buddy of mine claims to have one, but I think he's full of shit.

 
3/2/17
Clarkey:

Do you know what your Net Worth has to be before being invited/given an American Express Centurion Card? A buddy of mine claims to have one, but I think he's full of shit.

Make him show it to you.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

 
3/2/17
Clarkey:

Do you know what your Net Worth has to be before being invited/given an American Express Centurion Card? A buddy of mine claims to have one, but I think he's full of shit.

there isn't isn't a net worth requirement you just have to spend $250,000 or more a year...

The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

WSO is not your personal search function.

 
3/2/17
Clarkey:

Do you know what your Net Worth has to be before being invited/given an American Express Centurion Card? A buddy of mine claims to have one, but I think he's full of shit.

"According to Journal International, the average age of a Centurion reader from Europe or the Middle East is 49 years. 94% of primary cardholders are male and they have an average of 3.3 properties. Their average household income is EU653,000 and their average total net worth is EU4.5million. They have an average disposable monthly income of EU8,800."

In other words, your buddy is full of shit.

 
3/2/17
awm55:
Clarkey:

Do you know what your Net Worth has to be before being invited/given an American Express Centurion Card? A buddy of mine claims to have one, but I think he's full of shit.

"According to Journal International, the average age of a Centurion reader from Europe or the Middle East is 49 years. 94% of primary cardholders are male and they have an average of 3.3 properties. Their average household income is EU653,000 and their average total net worth is EU4.5million. They have an average disposable monthly income of EU8,800."

In other words, your buddy is full of shit.

There's no net worth requirement; you have to get an AmEx Platinum and charge a significant amount to it ($250k in the US, not sure what the UK requirement is), and think it is worth paying PS1800 a year for a credit card (I think annual fee gets waived if you charge enough).

It's entirely possible your buddy has a Centurion card; if you're making mid-six figures, you can probably put enough on your card that you'll get an invitation if you're so inclined.

Here's a thread on the subject:

www.flyertalk.com/forum/american-express-membershi...

 
3/2/17

Drex, Sorry for changing the trajectory of your thread. For what it''s worth, I use a HSBC Mastercard! lol

 
3/2/17

The 2 guys I know with centurion cards both put their kids (3 and 4 each) college tuition on them I think.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

 
3/2/17
happypantsmcgee:

The 2 guys I know with centurion cards both put their kids (3 and 4 each) college tuition on them I think.

You can do that with most cards. My pops charged my, my sister's, and my brother's prep school and college to his LL Bean card. EPIC numbers of gift certificates

 
3/2/17

Check out the creditexpert website (owned by Experian I think). I always used it to monitor my credit rating and report, and noticed I could also use it to check what credit cards I qualified for.

 
3/2/17

So, is the consensus AmEx Preferred Rewards Gold Card? Is it worth PS150? Would you have to put all of your bills/groceries/expenses on it to break even?

 
3/2/17

Bump, what about the platinum amex (450 fees p.a)?

 
 
3/2/17

Yes. But for most firms, you have to pay the fee for the program until you hit a certain level.

 
3/2/17
TopDGO:

Yes. But for most firms, you have to pay the fee for the program until you hit a certain level.

Wtf? What are you talking about?

 
3/2/17
Powerpoint Jockey:
TopDGO:

Yes. But for most firms, you have to pay the fee for the program until you hit a certain level.

Wtf? What are you talking about?

I'm answering the OP's question. What are you talking about?

 
3/2/17

Ah..I'm guessing the pay the annual fee but there's another fee to enroll in the rewards program and the employee is reponsible for paying it?

 
3/2/17

I guess the better answer to this question is really: if you have an offer, this information is already in the info they sent you.

Depending on what kind of credit card they give you, you might have to pay an annual fee to opt into the rewards program. Some firms cover this, some don't. My use of "most" was too aggressive apparently.

 
3/2/17

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