Credit Cards for People with No Credit

Writer: Joey Robinson | Editor: Tracy Stewart | Reviewed by: Margaret Drummond

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June 2, 2021

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For anyone with little to no credit, establishing your credit score is essential to financial freedom. A good credit history can open doors to savings in more ways than you may realize, and using a credit card responsibly is one of the simplest ways to build a healthy score. While having limited credit may cut down your options, here are a multitude of great credit cards from our partners designed for people with no credit history.

For anyone with little to no credit, establishing your credit score is essential to financial freedom. A good credit history can open doors to savings in more ways than you may realize, and using a credit card responsibly is one of the simplest ways to build a healthy score. While having limited credit may cut down your options, here are a multitude of great credit cards from our partners designed for people with no credit history.

Here are the best credit cards for no credit of 2021:

Capital One Platinum Credit Card
Our rating:4.0 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Fair to Good

Credit Recommended (580-740)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

This card doesn't offer cash back, miles, or points

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
26.99% variable
Self - Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa® Credit Card

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

This card doesn't offer cash back, miles, or points

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$25 monthly payment, 24 month term with a $9 admin fee
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
15.92% variable
Petal® 2
Our rating:4.2 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

1.5%
Up to 1.5% cash back after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
1%
1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
12.99% - 26.99% variable
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One
Our rating:3.7 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

This card doesn't offer cash back, miles, or points

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
26.99% variable
Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®
Our rating:3.8 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

Up to 6%
Up to 6% cash back by referring friends! Limited time only: Start with 1%, get to 3% cash back by successfully referring just two friends! Promotional cash back rate lasts for a full year.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
15.49% - 24.99% variable
Discover it® Student chrome
Our rating:4.1 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

2%
Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
1%
Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
10.99% for 6 months
Regular APR
12.99% - 21.99% variable
First PREMIER® Bank Mastercard® Credit Card

Bad to Fair

Credit Recommended (300-670)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

This card doesn't offer cash back, miles, or points

At A Glance

Annual Fee
See Issuer Website
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
See Issuer Website
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Our rating:3.5 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Fair to Good

Credit Recommended (580-740)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

1.5%
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$39
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
26.99% variable
Chase Freedom® Student credit card
Our rating:3.5 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

1%
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases plus $20 Good Standing Rewards after each account anniversary for up to 5 years

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
14.99% variable
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Our rating:2.7 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

This card doesn't offer cash back, miles, or points

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
22.49% (Variable)
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Our rating:4.1 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

2%
Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
1%
Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
10.99% for 6 months
Regular APR
22.99% variable

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Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank's website for the most current information.

 


All about credit cards that help build your credit

When you are just starting out, it can be tough to land the car you want, the apartment you need and even the job you are hoping for. Why? Because so much of our society centers around having good credit. Fortunately, you can establish credit relatively quickly with responsible use of the right credit card. We researched and evaluated more than 260 credit card offers that people with a limited credit profile can apply for, using criteria such as: ability to get approved, rewards rate, fees and rates, customer service, ability to improve credit line, benefits/perks, and more. Here, we look at:


best credit cards for no credit

Best Credit Cards for No Credit of 2021

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Why it’s the best low APR credit card for people with no credit

The ongoing interest rate is 12.99%-21.99% variable, which is competitive for a card that caters to students and those with limited credit history.

Pros

Even if you’re just learning the ropes of credit, you don’t have to wait to start earning rewards. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on rotating quarterly bonus categories, up to $1,500 per quarter, then 1% (activation required). Plus, Discover will match all of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. With no annual fee and plenty of perks, this is an excellent choice for a starter credit card.

Cons

Some new cardholders might be overwhelmed by bonus categories that change each quarter. If that’s the case, a flat-rate card is likely a better choice.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Why it’s the best no annual fee credit card for people with no credit

This credit-builder card is top-notch – in addition no hidden fees (you’ll often see hidden fees with these kinds of cards), there’s also no annual fee.

Pros

With the Capital One Platinum, you can pay by check, online or at a local branch without paying a fee. Also, you can pick your monthly due date.

Cons

Unfortunately, this card has no sign-up bonus or ongoing rewards, making it a tough choice if you are looking for a multi-purpose card for the long haul.

Self – Credit Builder Account

Why it’s the best product with low APR for people with no credit

This financial product has a number of credit building features, but the true surprise is that the APR is super low at 12.03% to 15.98% variable (varies by product).

Pros

Here’s how this product works: You’ll get a small loan that you save in a CD for 12 or 24 months, during which you can get the hang of proper payments. A critical feature: Your credit habits are regularly reported to the 3 major credit bureaus. Also there’s no hard pull on your credit and no credit history is required.

Cons

The Self – Credit Builder Account has a one-time account fee of $9 to $15, which varies by the product.

Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card

Why it’s the best credit card for high credit limits for people with no credit

With a credit limit up to $10,000, this card has a much higher ceiling than most starter cards. The card’s approval process will note your spending and income as well as your credit score, so it’s possible to qualify for a lofty limit without ever putting down a deposit.

Pros

This no annual fee option also features no foreign transaction fee, no late payment fee, no penalty APR and no returned payment fee. On top of that, cardholders earn up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.

Cons

Although the regular APR starts out on the lower end, the high end of the card’s APR (12.99%-26.99% variable) could be an obstacle for anyone expecting to carry a balance.

Secured Mastercard® from Capital One

Why it’s the best credit card for credit line growth for people with no credit

With the Secured Mastercard from Capital One, you have the opportunity to raise your credit limit after your first 6 months of on-time payments and responsible use, which is a solid feature for a credit-builder card.

Pros

As a Mastercard, this product is widely accepted worldwide, making it extraordinarily convenient when traveling.

Cons

There’s no sign-up bonus, no ongoing rewards, and the regular APR is a super high 26.99% (Variable), making it a poor option for carrying a balance.

Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®

Why it’s the best referral bonus credit card for people with no credit

Jasper considers many factors, including income and employment history, not just credit history, during its application process, so applicants with thin credit, including college graduates and relocating professionals who arrive in the U.S., could get approved for the card.

Pros

Unlike some other cards for no credit, Jasper features a rewards program and a potentially lucrative one at that. Cardholders can earn up to 6% cash back by successfully referring friends. A limited time offer allows them to earn extra cash back more quickly; they start with 1%, get to 3% cash back by successfully referring two friends, at 1% each. Typically, they earn 0.5% cash back for each referral. The promotional cash back rate lasts for a year. The card has a $0 annual fee. Learn more about the Jasper Cash Back Mastercard.

Cons

The high cash back is contingent on referring friends. Some credit newbies may be better off skipping a rewards credit card until they’ve established good spending habits, including on-time payments and low credit utilization.

Discover it® Student chrome

Why it’s the best student credit card for people with no credit

The Discover it Student chrome has a fun feature for the ambitious student – get a $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.

Pros

The ongoing rewards on this card are excellent, with 2% back at gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 a quarter on combined spending (then 1% thereafter), as well as double your rewards at the end of your first year.

Cons

The regular APR is 12.99% - 21.99% Variable, which makes it not the best choice for carrying a balance, although you can get a 0% for 6 months intro APR on purchases.

First PREMIER® Bank Mastercard® Credit Card

Why it’s the best credit card for rebuilding credit for people with no credit

Each billing statement will provide your quarterly FICO Score, so you can monitor your credit progress closely.

Pros

First PREMIER offers several features that make it easier to stay on top of payments, including the ability to sign up for email or text payment reminders. You can also access your credit account by phone 24/7.

Cons

The interest rate is variable 36%, which is one of the highest rates out there. Even if you pay your balance on time and in full, this card is expensive to own due to its many fees. Regardless of your credit score, you’ll pay a one-time program fee, an annual fee and a monthly fee (may be waived for the first year).

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why it’s the best flat-rate rewards credit card for people with no credit

The QuicksilverOne immediately delivers you 1.5% cash back for every purchase, every day, making it competitive with other cash back cards, such as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Pros

Because this card’s cash back rate is flat, there is no required quarterly signup or maximum allowed spend. Also, your cash back doesn’t expire for the life of the card.

Cons

This card doesn’t have a sign-up bonus, unlike the Quicksilver. Also, there’s an annual fee of $39, which isn’t waived the first year, and the regular APR is incredibly high at 26.99% (Variable).

Chase Freedom® Student credit card

Why it’s the best credit card for sign-up bonus for people with no credit

This student credit card from Chase offers new cardholders a $50 bonus after they make their first purchase within the first 3 months from account opening. (Read the full Chase Freedom Student credit card review.)

Pros

The card features a good base rewards program: Cardholders receive 1% cash back on all purchases and an additional 4% cash back on Lyft rides (through March 2022). They also receive a $20 bonus (or 2,000 points) each account anniversary that their account is still open and in good standing (meaning they’re making minimum payments on time) for up to the first 5 years of card ownership.

Cons

This card is designed for student credit cardholders, so if you’re outside that demographic, you might want to consider other credit cards for no credit. (Learn more about the best student credit cards.)

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Why it’s the best credit card for building credit for people with no credit

Your security deposit is refundable if you upgrade to an unsecured card within the first 18 months.

Pros

There’s no annual fee and you can choose your credit limit based on what you can afford to provide as a security deposit. You can put down as little as $200 to start.

Cons

This card offers no rewards. If that’s important to you, there are secured cards that do offer rewards programs.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Why it’s the best credit card for people with no credit history

While negative items like a pending bankruptcy may decrease your approval odds, having no credit history will not.

Pros

Credit card rewards can be hard to come by if you’ve got bad credit. Cardholders get 2% cash back at gas stations and at restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1%).

Cons

The APR is high, at 22.99% variable, so carrying a balance is going to cost you more than the average card.

For more credit cards tailored to college students or recent graduates with a short or no credit history, see our student credit cards.

Summary of the Best Credit Cards for No Credit

Credit CardBest ForRewards RateSecurity DepositCreditcards.com Review
Discover it® Student Cash BackCash back5% cash back on rotating categories (up to $1500 per quarter, 1% thereafter, activation required)$04.1 / 5
Capital One Platinum Credit CardNo annual feeNo Rewards$04.0 / 5
Self – Credit Builder AccountLow APRNo RewardsOne Time $9 – $15 Account Fee (Varies by Product)N / A
Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit CardHigh credit limits1% cash back on eligible purchases right away (up to 1.5% cash back after making 12 on-time monthly payments)$04.2 / 5
Secured Mastercard® from Capital OneCredit line growthNo Rewards$49 – $2003.7 / 5
Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®Referral bonusUp to 6% cash back Up to 6% cash back by referring friends! Limited time only: Start with 1%, get to 3% cash back by successfully referring just two friends! Promotional cash back rate lasts for a full year. $0N/A
Discover it® Student chromeStudents2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter, 1% thereafter), 1% cash back on general purchases$04.1 / 5
First PREMIER® Bank Mastercard Credit CardRebuilding creditNone$0N / A
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit CardFlat-rate rewards1.5% cash back on every purchase$03.5 / 5
Chase Freedom® Student credit cardSign-up bonus1% cash back on all purchases; additional 4% cash back on Lyft rides (through March 2022)$03.5 / 5
Citi® Secured Mastercard®Building CreditNone$200 – $2,5002.7 / 5
Discover it Secured® Credit CardPeople with no credit history2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants and 1% cash back on other purchases Match all of your cash back in your first year $200 – $2,5004.1 / 5

Research methodology

Credit cards for no credit history analyzed: 264

Criteria used: Annual fee, regular APR, promotional APR (if any), other rates and fees, credit needed, ease of application process, rewards rates, rewards categories, redemption options, ability to improve credit line, tools to track credit score, customer service, security, other features and benefits

How can I get a credit card if I have no credit history?

There are cards designed for people who are new to credit. Sometimes, their issuers want you to have a checking account, and they may require a refundable deposit of at least $200. Here is what you need to know about getting a card when you don’t have a credit history.

  1. Check your credit. You’ll want to know exactly where you stand and track your progress as you start to build credit. You can pull your credit reports for free at least once a year via AnnualCreditReport.com and you can get a credit score for free or for a nominal fee through various websites. Learn how to get your credit score.
  2. Look into a credit-builder loan. Check with your local financial institution about these small loans, which are designed primarily to help you build your credit. A local credit union is an excellent choice. You will likely need to open a checking or savings account with the institution.
  3. Consider a secured card. The fastest and easiest way to build credit is with a credit card, and a relatively easy card to land is a secured card. That’s because you put down a refundable deposit that is used to secure your credit limit. Just make sure the card issuer is going to send your credit habits to the credit bureaus.
  4. Research, then apply for one card. With your score handy, look at cards you are likely to get, checking annual fees and any other charges that might be incurred.
  5. See about being an authorized user. If you don’t think you will be able to get your own card or you want to take baby steps, see if you can become an authorized user on a responsible consumer’s card. Just make sure they pay on time and in full each month because their good credit habits will go on your file. Not all card issuers report authorized users’ information to the credit bureaus, so check. In a few months, you will be able to apply for your own card.

How to build your credit with no or little credit

Building credit can take some time, but there are steps you can take to jumpstart the process. Here are just a few of them.

  1. Pay your bills on time. You want to establish a responsible payment history, the biggest factor among the major credit scoring models. Even delinquent utility bills or rent payments can hurt your credit if the accounts wind up in collections.
  2. Get a credit card that you can use responsibly. This is the fastest way to build credit, given there are credit cards designed for applicants with no credit history and the barrier for approval can be low.
  3. Use your credit card. By making a small charge on your card each month, you keep your account active. Note: You don’t have to carry a balance to build credit; you can simply pay this charge off in full each month.
  4. Pay your card in full. If you pay your card in full each month, you avoid paying interest charges and you build your credit that much faster. That’s because your available credit by your balance is factored into your score. If your available credit is $1,000 and your balance is $100, then your credit utilization ratio is 10%. The lower your credit utilization rate, the better.
  5. Don’t be tempted to take out more credit. Think strategically – don’t apply for loans or credit cards without a plan, because applications can affect your credit. However, there are some times when taking out credit is a good idea. For example, by taking out a credit-builder loan or some other type of installment loan, such as a car loan, you give your credit a little boost.

Learn how to build credit.

Factors to look for in your first credit card

If you’ve made up your mind to get your first credit card in 2021, you’ve come to the right place. However, with hundreds of credit cards in the market, it can be overwhelming to decide which card you should get first. We can help with that. For example, you’ll need to look at which type of card you want (or can get); whether there are fees; and what rewards are offered. We’ll walk you through the different types of cards and what you should pay attention to.

  • Credit reporting. Does the card issuer report to the credit bureaus? This is a deal-breaker because if the issuer doesn’t report to the bureaus, you won’t be able to improve your credit with the card.
  • Fees. Are you clear about the fees? Look at not only the better-known fees in the “Schumer Box,” such as late and returned payment fees, but also fees lower in the text, including “billing statement copy fee” and “expedited telephone payment fee.” Make sure you won’t be nickel-and-dimed with your new card.
  • Types of cards
    • Secured. This card requires a refundable deposit, typically starting at $200. This is a good card for someone with bad credit or no credit.
    • Unsecured. Most cards are unsecured, which means there is no required deposit. There are some unsecured cards available for consumers just starting out.
    • Student. These cards are usually geared toward students or recent graduates with benefits designed to promote responsible use.
    • Rewards. The ultimate goal for many is to work toward a rewards card, which typically requires good or excellent credit, but some beginner cards include rewards.
    • Gas. Gas cards typically require lower credit and, sometimes, loyalty to specific brands. Some are co-branded, which means they are aligned with a card network, such as Visa or Mastercard, which allows you to use the card anywhere the network is accepted.
  • Qualification requirements. Check that you have a high likelihood of landing the card before applying, because every time you apply for a card, it impacts your credit score by about 5 points.
  • Annual fee. While this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, you’ll want to pay attention to make sure it’s something you can afford and that it’s worth your while.
  • Interest rate. While it’s usually a bad idea to carry a balance on your credit card, because you’ll pay interest charges if you do, you’ll want to pay attention to the APR, just in case.

People with no credit may not be able to qualify for a top-tier product right away, but, after they demonstrate responsible use, they can look into an upgrade.

“You’ll start building a positive credit history within a month of signing up for your first credit card, as long as you pay the bill on time,” says Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com. “You should also try to maintain a utilization ratio (credit used divided by credit available) below 30%. After about six months, you should be able to upgrade from a secured card or another type of starter card to a card with even better terms and more lucrative rewards.”

Why establishing a credit history matters

Unless you live on a plot of land you own free and clear in a tiny house powered by propane, your credit matters.

That’s because not only credit card issuers and lenders make decisions based on your credit. Employers, landlords, even utility companies are interested in how you handle credit.

Here are some primary ways credit can affect your world:

  • Insurance. Your insurance company looks at your credit when deciding how much your premiums should be.
  • Credit card. When you are on the hunt for a credit card, your first stop needs to be a card that will likely accept your credit score – anything above will only set you up for rejection.
  • Mortgage or car loan. Perhaps the best-known reason for why credit matters, lenders look at your credit to decide which product, if any, to grant you, as well as product terms. That means the higher your score, the better the terms, usually.
  • Job. While potential employers can’t check your credit without your approval, companies are increasingly studying job applicants’ credit history before making a final decision.
  • Apartment. Landlords are increasingly looking at potential renters’ credit when making a decision on which renter to accept.
  • Utility and cellphone accounts. Utility and cellphone companies check your credit before making a call on whether to require a down payment and in some cases, even whether to accept you as a customer.

How old do you have to be to get a credit card?

You can apply for a credit card once you turn 18, but you will need proof of income or a willing co-signer in order to get approved. Issuer requirements get a little less stringent once you turn 21, though they will still consider your income, along with your credit history, during the application process. Evaluating the following can help you when trying to get a credit card as a young adult:

  • Do you have credit files? The first thing you should do when you turn 18 is to check your credit files with the 3 major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. You want to make sure that a) you even have a file and b) that the file is accurate. Have the bureaus correct any incomplete or inaccurate information. You shouldn’t have a file if you don’t have any credit accounts.
  • Do you have income? If you are under 21, you are required by the Credit CARD Act of 2009 to have your own income if you want a credit card of your own.
  • Could you be an authorized user? If you don’t have your own income or your credit file is too thin (not enough credit information), look into being an authorized user on a responsible consumer’s credit card account. You are not legally responsible for the bill, but you benefit from their good credit habits. Also, unlike co-signing, it’s easy to be taken off an account as an authorized user. A couple of things to know about being an authorized user:
    • Make sure the holder of the account pays on time and in full every month.
    • Keep track of your credit reports and scores to make sure they are on track.
    • Work toward getting your own card, because the benefits from being an authorized user last only as long as you are on that account.
    • Not all card issuers report authorized users’ credit habits to the 3 major credit bureaus, so check before you are added to the account.