Credit Cards for People with No Credit

Using one of our best credit cards for those with limited or no credit history is a great first step to building a solid credit score and earning valuable rewards. These cards make it easy to track your spending and can help to quickly raise your score – find the perfect credit card for you and get started. Currently in school? Check out these partner offers just for students.

Using one of our best credit cards for those with limited or no credit history is a great first step to building a solid credit score and earning valuable rewards. These cards make it easy to track your spending and can help to quickly raise your score – find the perfect credit card for you and get started. Currently in school? Check out these partner offers just for students.

Editor: Laura Mohammad | Writer: Mariah Ackary

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September 1, 2020

Here are the best credit cards for no credit of 2020:

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

This card is best for

Building credit without an annual fee

Bottom Line

Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
26.99% variable

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

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

This card is best for

Potentially earning higher credit limit

Bottom Line

Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
26.99% variable

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

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

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$35
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.39% variable

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

1%
1% unlimited cash back on All purchases

This card is best for

Earning flat-rate cash back

Bottom Line

This card is a good bridge to the more premium Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
18.74% variable

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

This card is best for

More cash back for on-time payments

Bottom Line

No annual fee and a modest cash back rate make this a fine beginner credit card for students.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$39
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
26.99% variable

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%
Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
26.99% variable

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

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

This card is best for

Flexible due date for payments

Bottom Line

This no-annual-fee card offers a decent credit line if you can afford the $200 deposit.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
One Time $9 + Secured Card $25
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
21.74% variable

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

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

This card is best for

Access to credit without a credit check

Bottom Line

With no credit check and tips to help you build your credit, the OpenSky Secured Visa forgives and supports.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
One Time $9 - $15 Account Fee (Varies by Product)
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
12.03% - 15.98% variable

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% - 29.49% variable

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 information about Citi® Secured Mastercard® has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.


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. But in a few short months, you can establish credit and be on your way to financial bliss.

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:

Make 2020 your year for building credit.


best credit cards for no credit

Best Credit Cards for No Credit of 2020

Discover it® Student Cash Back

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

With the Discover it Student Cash Back, you can enjoy the rewards of the Discover it Cash Back – activate quarterly to earn 5% cash back on rotating categories up to $1,500 a quarter (it’s 1% after that).

Pros

There are a lot of advantages to this credit-starter card: For example, get no annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment and no APR change for paying late.

Cons

While you can get 0% for 6 months as an intro APR on purchases, the best you’re going to get for balance transfers is 10.99% for 6 months. It’s 12.99% - 21.99% Variable after that.

Discover it®Secured

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

While high-value rewards cards might feature categories like Amazon.com and wholesale clubs, the Discover it Secured rewards for everyday categories like 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Then, it’s 1% back.

Pros

This card offers no annual fee. Also, you can enjoy 100% U.S. based customer service and get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score.

Cons

There is no 0% intro APR offer on balance transfers – it’s 10.99% for 6 months, then 22.99% Variable.

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.

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

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

With the Capital One Secured Mastercard, 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 are 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.

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

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

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students looks at more than just credit history when applying, which can be a great benefit to a student who has never had a credit card before. Plus, international students don’t need a Social Security number to apply, so any eligible student can gain access to credit.

Pros

You can earn 1% cash back on every purchase you make at any time, making this a great way to earn rewards while strengthening your credit health.

Cons

If you do carry a balance from month to month, the APR (18.74% Variable) is fairly high, so we recommend paying your balance in full and on time if at all possible.

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.

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

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

With the Citi Secured Mastercard, you can choose your due date from the beginning, middle or end of the month, which means you can line up your bill with when you get paid.

Pros

This card has an auto-pay feature, as well as the ability to sign up for alerts, making it that much easier to pay on time, every time, the most important element of building your credit.

Cons

This card has no sign-up bonus and no ongoing rewards, and the regular APR is 22.49% (Variable), although it also has no annual fee.

Self – Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa® Credit Card

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

Not only does the Self Credit Builder Account and Credit Card combination allow you to dodge the credit history hard pull, extensive applications and high out-of-pocket deposit necessary for other secured cards, but you also develop good credit habits while building two types of credit with all 3 credit bureaus.

Pros

Establishing a credit mix with a loan and credit card boosts 10% of your credit score in a way other cards alone can’t. Plus, you’ll earn interest on your deposit once you receive it and can receive a higher credit limit depending on your deposit size.

Cons

The one-time account fee of $9 isn’t much and the APR is relatively low, but the credit card’s $25 annual fee and another potential interest payment besides your loan (if you carry a balance) could add up for new cardholders. If you need a secured card now, keep in mind you have to make the account and qualifying payments first.

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).

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Why it’s the best credit card for bill choice with no credit

When you’re just starting out with your credit, you want a little forgiveness, which this card offers. You get to pick your monthly due date, and there is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.

Pros

Although the default ongoing rewards are 1% cash back on all purchases, the Journey Student Rewards gives you 1.25% back when you pay on time, giving you just another incentive to be responsible.

Cons

There’s no signup bonus, although that’s not unusual for a credit card that accepts consumers with fair credit. Also, like the QuicksilverOne, the APR is super high at 26.99% (Variable).

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 Card Best For Rewards Rate Security Deposit Creditcards.com Review
Discover it® Student Cash Back Cash back 5% cash back on rotating categories (up to $1500 per quarter, 1% thereafter, activation required) $0 4.2 / 5
Discover it® Secured Everyday spending 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter), 1% cash back on all other purchases $200 – $2,500 4.1 / 5
Capital One® Platinum Credit Card No annual fee No Rewards $0 3.7 / 5
Capital One® Secured Mastercard® Credit line growth No Rewards $49 – $200 3.4 / 5
Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students International students 1% cash back on every purchase $0 2.6 / 5
Discover it® Student chrome Students 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter, 1% thereafter), 1% cash back on general purchases $0 4.2 / 5
Citi® Secured Mastercard® Flexible payments No Rewards $200 – $2,500 3 / 5
Self – Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa® Credit Card Building credit No Rewards Make at least 3 monthly payments on time, have $100 or more in savings progress in your account, and be in good standing. 3 / 5
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card Flat-rate rewards 1.5% cash back on every purchase $0 4.1 / 5
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® Bill choice 1% cash back on all purchases, or 1.25% cash back on all purchases if you pay on time. $0 2.1 / 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 out there that serve consumers who are new to credit. Sometimes, they 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 score. If you have a credit file, check your credit score either through MyFICO.com for about $20 for each score or see if your bank will provide your score for free. This is an excellent behavior to get in the habit of. (Some 62% of consumers correctly believed that checking their credit score didn’t affect their score, while 22% wrongly thought it did, according to Discover’s Current State of Consumer Credit Health report.)
  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

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about building your credit, including how to properly manage your credit card. In fact, your credit card is one of your important tools for building credit, but it’s also critical to know how to manage your credit as a whole.

The fact is that we are increasingly checking our credit reports within a year (from 49% in 2014 to 57% in 2018), but the number of people who feel it’s important to actually check them is down (from 72% in 2014 to 67 percent in 2018), according to VantageScore’s eighth annual credit score survey in conjunction with the Consumer Federation of America.

In 2020, plan to be one of the consumers who check their credit reports regularly. Ideally, check one of your 3 reports every 4 months on AnnualCreditReport.com for free. Correct any errors with the 3 major credit bureaus. Make sure there aren’t any accounts you don’t recognize. Also, pay off any outstanding debts you have, or at least come up with a payment plan.

There are a number of other tricks to improve your credit, many of which tie to credit cards. By managing your credit card and other bills, you are well on your way to building your credit this year:

  1. Pay your bills on time. If you are not doing this already, then start immediately. Keep in mind that even if a creditor, such as a landlord, may not send positive credit patterns, the creditor may send bad credit habits. For that reason, it’s important to pay each and every month.
  2. Get a credit card that you can use responsibly. This is the fastest way to build credit.
  3. Use your credit card. By making a small charge on your card each month, you keep your account active.
  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 in. If your available credit is $1,000 and your balance is $100, then your credit utilization ratio is 10% – you want it as close to zero as possible, although 10% is considered good.
  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.

Factors to look for in your first credit card

If you’ve made up your mind to get your first credit card in 2020, 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 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 for the beginner consumer, although they don’t necessarily vary significantly from other cards.
    • 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 they can have 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. Of 28 gas cards surveyed in 2018, 11 were found to be co-branded.
  • 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.
  • Rewards and benefits. Some starter cards offer rewards, although it can be worth your while to minimize the fees for now and plan to get a rewards card in a year or so.
  • 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.

“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.

Can you get a credit card at 18?

Turning 18 this year? Yes, you can get a credit card when you are 18, but it is complicated.

That’s because the Credit CARD Act of 2009 is designed to make sure young consumers don’t take out a financial product before they are financially or emotionally able to handle it. Unfortunately, the easiest and fastest way to build credit is with a credit card.

While it can be frustrating to have to jump through hoops to be able to start building your credit, there are some workarounds, such as becoming an authorized user on someone else’s account.

How to get a credit card when you are under 21

  • 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 are 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.

Can I get a credit card with no income?

If you are over 21 years old, you don’t have to have a job to apply for a credit card, provided that you have reasonable access to income, for example, that of a partner or spouse. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau amended the CARD Act of 2009 in 2013 to allow at-home parents the ability to get a credit card without a job.

What credit limit can I get?

While when you’re brand new to credit, you can expect to start out with a credit limit of only about $200, you’ll find as you go that your credit limit is not necessarily higher because you have a higher score. Other factors such as your income are also considered.
For example, the average FICO Score for Washington, D.C., is only 703, while it has the second-highest average credit limit of $37,845 among U.S. states, according to Experian. Compare that to Hawaii, with an average credit score of 723, while the average credit limit is more than $4,000 less at $33,254.
That’s not to say you are stuck with a $200 credit limit forever. As your score rises, your risk for borrowing will improve and lenders will take notice. In fact, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® may reward you with a credit limit increase after your first 6 months of on-time payments and an additional deposit isn’t required.

Also, if your score is steadily improving, simply ask for a limit increase. We’ve found that 85% of consumers who asked received a higher credit limit.

What information is needed to apply for a credit card?

Here are common questions asked when you apply for a credit card. As you can see, you might be asked about whether you own or rent, your monthly housing payment and source of income. If it’s a starter card, you may be asked if you have a bank account, and if so, what type.

  • Name
  • Phone
  • Address
  • Years at address
  • Whether you own or rent
  • Monthly housing payment
  • Income
  • Income source
  • Liquid assets – cash or other owned items that can instantly be converted to cash
  • Whether you have a bank account
  • Type of bank account
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • U.S. citizenship
  • Dual citizenship

What does insufficient credit history mean?

When a bank tells you that you have an insufficient credit history, it means that there is likely not a credit report on which to base a credit score.
So, you need credit reports, which are the documents where your credit history is collected from financial institutions and creditors. Then, you need a credit score for potential lenders to assess whether you are a good credit risk.
It takes at least 6 months of activity for a credit score to be assigned, so the sooner you get started the better. In addition to getting a credit card that doesn’t require credit, you can also apply for a credit-builder loan at your local bank or credit union.


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