Easiest Credit Cards to Get: Top Offers for Those With Bad Credit, Fair Credit, No Credit and Students

Easiest Credit Cards to Get: Top Offers for Those With Bad Credit, Fair Credit, No Credit and Students

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The easiest credit cards to get are typically not the greatest in terms of benefits and interest rates. We compared credit card offers to find ones that are both easy to get and still provide their users with decent value. We broke out the top choices into several categories, to help narrow down your search based on types of users.

Easiest Credit Cards to Get for...

If you are also shopping around for instant approval or guaranteed approval credit cards, be sure to check out our section on these offers at the bottom of this article.

Easy-To-Get Credit Card for College Students: Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Why We Like It: Solid 1.25% rewards rate on all purchases and no foreign transaction fees.

What’s Not Great About It: The 26.99% (Variable) APR is very high. You don’t want to catch yourself carrying a balance with this card, or else your interest charges will be through the roof.

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® is available to students with limited credit histories. On top of that, it comes equipped with some decent rewards, making it a good starter credit card. Students who pay their bill on time receive 1.25% cash back on all their purchases. You get just 1% back on months when you're late. Most easy-to-get credit cards, especially store cards, do not offer much, if any, rewards to their cardholders.

The ‘journey’ part of this card’s name is quite appropriate, since it doesn’t come with any foreign transaction fees. This makes it great for avid travelers. Most credit cards, especially those designed for students, will charge a 3% fee anytime they are used outside of the United States. The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® does away with this charge, so you can use it on your vacation or when studying abroad.

Easy to Qualify for People With Bad Credit: Discover it® Secured

Why We Like It: It has decent rewards, unlike many other cards for people with bad credit.

What’s Not Great About It: Like most easy-to-get credit cards, the Discover it® Secured suffers from high interest rates.

The Discover it® Secured gives 1% cash back on every purchase and 2% back at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, Discover will match all the cash back new cardmembers earn at the end of the first year. These rewards are reminiscent of credit cards people with average or good credit get.

Being a secured card, the Discover it® Secured will require you to put down a security deposit when you first sign up. If you ever decide to close your account, you will have the option to have your deposit refunded, provided you don’t have any outstanding obligations. This is pretty much par for the course when it comes to credit cards for people with bad credit. It’s what makes them easy to get, and is something you should expect. Don’t think of this as a con.

Easiest Credit Card for Those With Fair Credit: Barclays Rewards MasterCard®

Barclays Rewards MasterCard®
This product is not available through ValuePenguin.
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Why We Like It: The 2% rewards rate on gas, utility, and grocery store purchases makes this card fantastic for expenses the average consumer has to deal with.

What’s Not Great About It: It has the highest APR of all the cards on this list (25.24% variable) and no sign-up bonus.

The Barclays Rewards MasterCard® has relatively low credit requirements, making it easy to get if you have fair credit – anything from the low 600s up should get you qualified. The card awards 2X points per dollar on gas, utility and eligible grocery store purchases, and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. That translates to a 2% and 1% rewards rate respectively. The average consumer, spending roughly $1,430 per month, can expect to earn as much as $235 per year with this reward structure.

The Barclays Rewards MasterCard® also provides free online access to FICO scores, which can be especially useful for those with fair credit. You can track your progress and see your score improve as you continue to pay your bills on time. You can read our review of the Barclays Rewards MasterCard® for a more detailed look at its benefits and features.

Easiest Credit Card for Immigrants & International Students: Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

  • On Capital One's Secure Website
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Why We Like It: You don't need a social security number to sign-up for this card.

What’s Not Great About It: There is no rewards program, like on some other credit cards available to non-immigrants.

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is great for immigrants who only have an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), and no social security number. This is significantly easier for some immigrants to acquire than a social security number. The card has $0 annual fee and a flexible credit line. The minimum amount needed to deposit is $49, $99,or $200, and for that amount you can get an initial credit line of $200 (note, access to an authorized bank account is required to make your deposit). The more you deposit the higher your credit line will be. This is better than most secured credit cards that typically provide credit lines at a 1:1 ratio with your security deposit.

As you use the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, the bank will report your payments and the account to the credit bureaus. Should your residency status ever change, you'll be able to demonstrate a strong credit file, and get a much better offer than if you started from scratch.

Easiest Credit Cards to Get With No Credit: Student & Secured Credit Cards

The best and easiest credit card to get when you have no credit will depend highly on how you spend your money. If you’re in college or grad school, student credit cards will typically provide you with the best offers. For everyone else, secured credit cards are the way to go. There is very little difference, in terms of eligibility, between these credit cards. They are all designed for people with limited or damaged credit files. You can use any of these cards to build up a credit history for yourself, and eventually apply for a much better offer.

The model below shows some of the top student credit cards and best bad credit credit cards currently on the market. All of these are relatively easy to get. You should look through the benefits of each (by clicking ‘More Details’) to learn more about each of the offers.

Assumptions based on $1,430 monthly spend
Monthly spending:

Be Weary of Instant Approval Credit Cards

When searching around for the easiest credit cards to get, you are sure to come across instant approval and guaranteed approval credit cards. You should know two things about these types of cards:

Instant approval is bit of a misnomer. Instant approval credit cards don’t mean you will be instantly approved for them. They will simply give users a quick response about whether or not they qualified -- usually within 60 seconds. This, however, does not guarantee approval. These cards aren’t always easy to get either. There are some cards marketed as “instant approval” that only accept consumers with excellent FICO scores.

The ‘guaranteed approval space’ is filled with predatory lenders. Individuals seeking easy-approval credit cards are typically credit-challenged. That means they have low or non-existent credit scores or are completely underbanked. In recent years, predatory lenders have targeted this segment of the population, as they tend to be the most vulnerable or desperate for credit. These companies will typically charge high interest rates and fees that are well above market average. If you are shopping for a credit card in this space, you should be aware of your basic rights and protections. You can learn more by reading our detailed guide here.

Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).