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If you have little credit history — or none at all — you may be wondering if you’re eligible to apply for a credit card. The good news is that there are many credit cards that are targeted for people with no credit history.
We've compiled a list of cards that offer reasonable fees and, in some cases, good rewards programs for applicants with limited credit histories.
Best credit cards for no credit 2021
- Best no credit check credit card: OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
- Best credit card for students with no credit: Discover it® Student Cash Back
- Best credit card for international students with no credit: Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students
- Best Capital One credit card for no credit: Secured Mastercard® from Capital One
- Best Chase credit card for no credit: Chase Freedom® Student credit card
- Best Discover card for no credit: Discover it® Secured Credit Card
To make choosing the right card easier, we've looked at credit cards reviewed on ValuePenguin as well as cards on major issuer sites to compile a list of the best rewards credit cards available right now. Our recommendations are based on the additional value you can earn with the cards — including the rewards value, cost of ownership and value of benefits such as travel and purchase protections, lounge membership and airline companion passes. Our choices are not influenced by our advertisers. Learn more on how we calculate rewards.
Best no credit check credit card
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is one of the best bets for cardholders who are seeking to open a credit account without having to do a credit check. Since it's a secured card, you'll need to put down some money upfront for a deposit (at least $200). For a card that doesn't require a credit check, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card offers a reasonable annual fee of $35, and it reports to all three credit bureaus to help you build your credit history.
Unfortunately, it doesn't offer a rewards program, and the annual fee means you'll need to pay to keep the card open or close it once you've moved on to better cards (which could negatively impact your score). If you're willing to undergo a credit check, you’ll find better options on this list.
APR: 17.39% (variable) for purchases and cash advances
Fees: $35 annual fee, no maintenance fees
Security deposit required: Yes, as low as $200 and up to $3,000
Credit building features: OpenSky reports to all three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Other notable benefits: Your security deposit is FDIC-insured and is completely refunded to you when you close your account.
Best credit card for students with no credit
Discover it® Student Cash Back
The Discover it® Student Cash Back is a good match for students without credit histories. It allows you to Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically
For 2021, the 5% categories include grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS (January-March); gas stations, wholesale clubs and select streaming services (April-June); restaurants and PayPal (July-September); and Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com (October-December).
Plus, Discover offers an Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
If you're a student, you can also get a $20 annual bonus for having a 3.0 GPA or higher.
APR: See terms
Fees: See terms
Security deposit required: None
Credit building features: Your payment history will be sent to the credit bureaus as a way to help build your credit. You can also access your free Credit Scorecard, including your FICO® Score, number of recent inquiries and additional credit information.
Other notable benefits: 5% rotating quarterly bonus, cashback match in the first year for new cardholders, $20 annual statement credit for good grades for up to five years.
Best credit card for international students with no credit
Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students
- Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student on Deserve after your first purchase with your new Deserve EDU Mastercard (Lifetime Value of $59).
- Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you'll automatically start earning cash back on all purchases.
- Feel secure with cell phone protection up to $600.
- No deposit required. No annual fees.
- No international transaction fees on purchases abroad so you can travel with confidence.
- No Social Security Number required for international students to apply.
- Refer A Friend Program: Refer anyone to Deserve using your personal referral code. Upon approval, card activation and use, you'll receive $30 and so will your referral. Referral bonuses are unlimited!
- Manage and track your spending, set automatic payments and securely freeze your card all through one easy to use app.
- See if you prequalify with no impact to your credit score in minutes.
- Deserve Mastercards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC.
- Enjoy Mastercard Platinum Benefits intended to make your life easier like Mastercard ID Theft Prevention™ and Master Rental®.
The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students, as the name implies, is targeted toward students without credit profiles. Specifically, the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students is a good option for international students who are attending a college or university in the United States, since it doesn't require a Social Security Number to apply. There’s a $0 annual fee, and you'll get 1% unlimited cash back on ALL purchases. You'll also get a complimentary membership to Amazon Prime Student for one year, which can help stretch your budget in other ways.
APR: 18.74% Variable
Fees: $0 annual fee or maintenance fees
Security deposit required: None
Credit building features: Deserve EDU reports credit standing to two credit bureaus: TransUnion and Experian.
Other notable benefits: 1% unlimited cash back on ALL purchases, Amazon Prime Student membership for one year, cell phone protection up to $600.
Best Capital One credit card for no credit
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One
The Secured Mastercard® from Capital One is Capital One’s best option for people with no credit. It doesn't charge an annual fee and, with a deposit as low as $49, you can secure credit lines starting at $200. If you already have a Capital One checking or savings account, you may want to consider applying for the Secured Mastercard® from Capital One, as you may be more likely to have your application be approved. Capital One does automatic monthly account reviews starting at six months — and with on-time payments, you may be able to increase your credit line after just six months, which could help boost your credit score.
APR: 26.99% (Variable)
Fees: $0 annual fee and no maintenance fees
Security deposit required: $49, $99 or $200 refundable minimum security deposit. You'll need to link an authorized bank account to process the security deposit.
Credit building features: Your credit standing is reported to each of the three major credit bureaus. You'll also be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months time.
Other notable benefits: If you use your card responsibly by doing things like making your payments on time, Capital One may refund your deposit as a statement credit.
Best Chase credit card for no credit
Chase Freedom® Student credit card
The Chase Freedom® Student credit card could be a great way to build up a relationship with Chase Bank, opening the way to applying for one of Chase's outstanding rewards credit cards. The Chase Freedom® Student credit card has no annual fee and is the only card on our list that offers an upfront welcome bonus. You'll receive a $50 Bonus after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening.
APR: 14.99% Variable APR
Fees: $0 annual fee and no maintenance fees
Security deposit required: None
Credit building features: Chase may increase your credit limit if you make five monthly payments on time within 10 months from account opening. Your payment history is also reported to the major credit bureaus.
Other notable benefits: Earn 1% cash back on all purchases plus $20 Good Standing Rewards after each account anniversary for up to 5 years, $50 Bonus after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening.
Best Discover card for no credit
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is a secured credit card, where your initial security deposit is your credit line. And it comes with a decent rewards program: You'll get 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Plus, Discover offers an Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match. The Discover it® Secured Credit Card reports to all three major credit bureaus and will review your account starting after eight months to possibly refund your initial security deposit.
APR: See terms
Fees: See terms
Security deposit required: Minimum of $200 and up to a maximum of $2,500
Credit building features: Discover reports your credit history to the three major credit bureaus. You'll also be able to view your FICO® Score on your monthly statements or online account. After eight months, Discover will automatically review your account to see if it can be upgraded to an unsecured card and refund your deposit.
Other notable benefits: 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically. Matches cash back in the first year for new cardholders.
How to get a credit card with no credit
If you have very limited credit history, there are a few steps you can take to help you open up a credit card account.
The easiest credit cards to get with no credit history are secured cards. These credit cards require you to submit a security deposit that will act as your line of credit. If you fail to pay back your debt, the security deposit will be forfeited. Before applying for a secured credit card, make sure the issuer reports your activity to any one of the three major credit bureaus — if not all three — which is key to building a credit history.
If your spouse or a family member has an account they’d be willing to put you on, this will immediately generate a FICO Score for you, allowing you to apply for better cards. Many banks allow authorized users as young as 13. However, as with secured cards, not all issuers will report authorized users to the credit bureaus. Ask the card issuer before applying and committing to this as a solution.
By speaking with a bank representative, you could increase your chances of getting approved for a credit card. A banker can work with you to double check for factors that can make you eligible for a card account. They can also help you call a reconsideration line if your application is initially declined.
It's possible that your initial application may be declined, especially if you don't have an existing credit history. In that case, whether you apply in-branch or online, most lenders have a reconsideration line that you can call if you are denied. Explaining your financial situation to a banker may help your application be approved.
Opening a checking or savings account with the issuer can also aid in obtaining a credit card from them. Because they want to retain you as a customer, a bank may be willing to relax the minimum requirements for their new credit card applicants. With some banks, such as Bank of America, bank account holders also get bonus rewards (just watch out for checking account fees).
Proof of steady income can boost your application approval odds. One of the major factors a bank looks at when deciding whether or not to issue a new credit account is the individual's ability to repay the debt. Federal law mandates that the issuer be certain the account holder will be able to pay back at least the minimum amount due on the line of credit they issue.
In addition to ongoing income, many credit card applications allow you to list assets. If you own a car, checking or savings accounts, collectibles or other valuable assets, make sure to include them where appropriate when applying for a credit card. This can be especially useful when applying with a banker in-person, as it can show that you have additional ability to pay your credit card.
If all else fails, you can try signing up for a card with a big retail store, such as Macy's or Target. Generally speaking, store credit cards are much easier to get than cards issued by banks. However, you should read through the terms of such cards carefully: While they are easy to get, they are also notorious for having high APRs and fees. If this will be your first credit card, you should ideally look for one with no annual fee. Even if it doesn't have a great rewards program, you can still use it to establish your credit history. Make all your payments on time and keep credit utilization low; within a year, you should be able to qualify for a better card.
How to choose a card for building your credit history
There are a few factors that come into play when you're trying to choose a card for building your credit history. Here are a few of the most important ones:
One of the first things you'll want to look at when choosing a card for building your credit history is the credit score required for that card. Some credit cards are specifically targeted for people with little or no credit history, or as a "student credit card" — look for this language on the issuer's site.
The annual percentage rate (APR) is the rate of interest paid over the year for carrying a balance on a card. Of course, you should try to pay off your balance each month to avoid getting into debt and build your credit score. However, fledgling cardholders are especially vulnerable to making late payments or accruing balances they can't afford to pay, so you should still pay close attention to a card's APR before applying. Try to avoid cards with extremely high APRs — in general, the lower the APR, the better.
You should take an especially close look at all the fees associated with your card. Most cards will charge fees for late or missed payments or for cash advance transactions, and many credit cards also charge an annual fee. Some cards even charge an account setup fee and monthly maintenance fees that could add to $100 or more per year. You should read the fine print carefully before you apply to make sure you're aware of any fees that would come with the card.
Credit card rewards can be a lucrative source of additional income and benefits. Many cards that are marketed for those with no credit history don't have rewards, so it can be a good differentiator if you find a card that does. Before concentrating on any rewards offered by a card, you'll first want to make sure that you have the financial ability and discipline to pay off the card in full each month. Otherwise, the interest or fees that you'll pay could more than eat up any credit card rewards that you might earn.
Many credit cards for people with no credit history offer credit building features that can aid in establishing a solid credit history. The first thing that you'll want to look for is a credit card company that reports transaction and payment information to the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Most, if not all, unsecured credit cards report to the credit bureaus — however, not all secured credit cards do, so you should double check for this feature before you apply.
Another credit building feature to keep an eye out for are guaranteed account reviews with credit line increases. Many lenders approve people with a limited credit history for a relatively small credit line at first. If you make your payments in full and on time, though, some issuers will review your account and increase your available credit line, which can have a positive impact on your credit score.
Many credit cards targeted to people with limited credit history offer other useful benefits. Some may offer a one-time bonus, either when you sign up for the card or at the end of your anniversary year. Others provide access to be able to view your credit score for free. Seeing your actual FICO Score can help you determine how likely you are to be able to apply for other credit cards.
Secured vs. unsecured cards for no credit
Most traditional credit cards are considered "unsecured." An unsecured credit card does not require collateral to open the account (i.e., you won't have to put down any money upfront).
A secured credit card requires you put down a monetary security deposit upfront. As you make purchases, your available limit is subtracted from your initial deposit; as you make payments, your deposit is replenished. If you default on your secured credit card, the lender will keep your security deposit.
You might think that an unsecured credit card is always the way to go, since you don't have to supply a lot of money to open the card. However, you’ll find that many of the unsecured card options available to those with limited credit histories are laden with fees, including annual fees, application fees and monthly fees, that can equal a security deposit over a year's time. Not to mention, the issuer will continue to charge most of these fees year after year until you close the account.
If you have a few hundred dollars available, you’ll likely save money in the long run by paying the deposit to open a secured credit card without an annual fee.
How to build credit fast with no credit
Here are a few tips for how to build your credit up if you have no credit or a limited credit history:
- Have a trusted friend or family member add you to one of their cards as an authorized user.
- Consider signing up for a secured credit card, rather than an unsecured credit card with exorbitant fees.
- Tools like Experian Boost can increase your credit score for regularly paying things like utility, cell phone or streaming service bills.
- If you have a credit profile in another country, you can sometimes use that to build up your credit in the United States.
- If you have a car loan or student loans, making regular and on-time payments on those loans can help to build your credit profile.
- If you're renting, ask if your landlord will report your on-time rent payments to the credit bureaus. This can show consistent monthly payments and build your credit profile.
Can you get a credit card with no credit?
There are many credit cards that are marketed to and designed for people with no credit. Many of the credit cards listed in this article are intended for people with no credit, and lenders understand that many people who apply for these credit cards will not have a significant credit profile.
What is the easiest credit card to get with no credit?
If you have no credit history, it's best to look for a credit card that is designed for people with limited credit. Secured credit cards are often easier to get — lenders are willing to accept applicants with riskier credit profiles, since cardholders are putting down a deposit to secure their credit line. Consider the cards profiled in this article as potential options for credit cards to get with no credit.
Can you apply for a credit card with no job?
It is possible to be approved for a credit card with no job. Most, if not all, credit card applications will ask for your annual income, including the source of any income you have. But if you don't have a job, that doesn't mean that you won't be able to get approved for a credit card. Many credit cards, including the ones in this article, are targeted to people who are starting out in life and may not have had a job before.
What is the best credit card for no credit?
The best credit card for no credit depends on your specific situation — take a look at some of the cards in this article to find one that may be right for you. In general, you should look for a card that doesn't charge expensive fees and reports to all the major credit bureaus.
Can you apply for a credit card with no income?
It’s possible to apply for and be approved for a credit card with no income. Although most (if not all) credit card applications will ask for your income, you can just put down $0 if you don't have a current source of income. If you're concerned about your ability to apply for a credit card with no income, you could consider first opening a secured card. With a secured card, you put down an initial monetary deposit. Secured cards are easier to be approved for and can be a good stepping stone to an unsecured credit card.
If you have no credit, what is your score?
If you have nothing on your credit profile, you’ll have no credit score at all. In many ways, having no credit score is better than having a poor credit score, since it's easier to turn no credit score into a good credit score by regularly paying your monthly obligations.
The information related to OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, Discover it® Student Cash Back, Secured Mastercard® from Capital One, Chase Freedom® Student credit card and Discover it® Secured Credit Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.