Credit Cards for People with No Credit

Written by: Joey Robinson | Edited by: Tracy Stewart | Reviewed by: Margaret Drummond
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September 14, 2021

Our editorial team and our expert review board provide an unbiased analysis of the products we feature. Our comparison service is compensated by our partners, and may influence where or how products are featured on the site. Learn more about our partners and how we make money. Please note: The star-rating system on this page is based on our independent card scoring methodology and is not influenced by advertisers or card issuers.

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, there are credit cards specifically designed for those who are new to credit. You can establish credit relatively quickly when you prove that you can use these cards responsibly. Aside from on time payments, it’s important to be strategic in your mission to build credit. Make small manageable charges each month and avoid interest fees by paying the balance in full. This will help keep your credit utilization ratio to a minimum which will help boost your credit score in the long run. You also want your good financial habits to be reported regularly to the major credit bureaus in order to build credit. The majority of credit-building cards will offer this but not all do.

Why trust us? Our team of credit card experts has analyzed over 300 cards and selected the top offers currently available. We assign these cards a one-to-five star rating along with detailed reviews to help you find a credit card that best fits with your spending habits and financial goals. For applicants with limited credit, we examine rewards rates, fees, customer service, benefits, as well as the ability to get approved. All of our card selections are independently assessed by our editors based on their individual research, opinions, and other factors. Compare these offers from our partners and find a card that’s right for you.

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, there are credit cards specifically designed for those who are new to credit. You can establish credit relatively quickly when you prove that you can use these cards responsibly. Aside from on time payments, it’s important to be strategic in your mission to build credit. Make small manageable charges each month and avoid interest fees by paying the balance in full. This will help keep your credit utilization ratio to a minimum which will help boost your credit score in the long run. You also want your good financial habits to be reported regularly to the major credit bureaus in order to build credit. The majority of credit-building cards will offer this but not all do.

Why trust us? Our team of credit card experts has analyzed over 300 cards and selected the top offers currently available. We assign these cards a one-to-five star rating along with detailed reviews to help you find a credit card that best fits with your spending habits and financial goals. For applicants with limited credit, we examine rewards rates, fees, customer service, benefits, as well as the ability to get approved. All of our card selections are independently assessed by our editors based on their individual research, opinions, and other factors. Compare these offers from our partners and find a card that’s right for you.

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

BEST FOR NO ANNUAL FEE
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.

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
BEST FOR LOW APR
Self - Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa® Credit Card
Our rating:2.5 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.

No Credit History

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
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Our rating:3.1 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

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)
BEST FOR CREDIT LINE GROWTH
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

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
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A guide to credit cards that help build your credit

The road to good credit is long and sometimes winding. Think of your credit card as the GPS that gets you there.

Here, we look at:


Comparing the best credit cards for people with 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 Account + Secured Visa® Credit CardLow APRNo RewardsOne-time $9 – $15 account fee (Varies by product)N / A
Citi® Secured Mastercard®Building CreditNone$200 – $2,5002.7 / 5
Secured Mastercard® from Capital OneCredit line growthNo Rewards$49 – $2003.7 / 5
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
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
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

best credit cards for no credit

Best Credit Cards for No Credit of 2021

Discover it® Student Cash Back: Best cash back card for people with no credit

Why we picked it: 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.

Who should apply? Students eager to rack up rewards will find this to be a great first-card so long as they’re comfortable keeping up with rotating bonus categories.

Read our Discover it® Student Cash Back review

Capital One Platinum Credit Card: Best no-annual-fee card for people with no credit

Why we picked it: This credit-builder card is top-notch – in addition to 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.

Who should apply? If your main objective is to build credit while keeping costs to a minimum, this pared-down no-annual-fee card checks off all the boxes.

Read our Capital One Platinum Credit Card review

Self – Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa® Credit Card: Best low APR card for people with no credit

Why we picked it: This hybrid financial product, which starts off as a credit-builder loan and could transition into a secured credit card (with at least three monthly payments on time, $100 or more in savings in your credit-builder account, and an account in good standing), touts a low APR (variable 15.92%) for the no credit category.

Pros: You can avoid having to put down the upfront security deposit required of most traditional secured credit cards, as you’ll be making three monthly installments payments instead.

Cons: You’ll pay a one-time account fee of $9 to $15, which varies by the product. Plus, you’ll have to wait at least three months to have access to your secured credit card.

Who should apply? Thanks to its relatively low APR, this non-traditional credit-building loan/secured card could be a good fit for someone who may carry a balance.

Additional info on the Self – Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa® Credit Card

Citi® Secured Mastercard®: Best credit-building card for people with no credit

Why we picked it: 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.

Who should apply? For someone rebuilding their credit, this card charges no annual fee and offers the opportunity to graduate to an unsecured card after 18 months of responsible use.

Read our Citi® Secured Mastercard® review

Secured Mastercard® from Capital One: Best credit line growth for people with no credit

Why we picked it: 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.

Who should apply? If you don’t plan on carrying a balance month-to-month, this card makes for a strong starter card with the possibility of a higher credit line down the road.

Read our Secured Mastercard® from Capital One review

Discover it® Student chrome: Best student credit card for people with no credit

Why we picked it: 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.

Who should apply? This card is an excellent choice for college students looking to earn rewards while building good credit.

Read our Discover it® Student chrome review

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best flat-rate rewards card for people with no credit

Why we picked it: 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).

Who should apply? This card is a solid choice for those with less than perfect credit who hope to earn rewards while rebuilding their score.

Read our Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review

Chase Freedom® Student credit card: Best sign-up bonus for people with no credit

Why we picked it: 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.)

Who should apply? With a decent sign up bonus and solid rewards rate, this is a good fit for students who want to build up their credit. For more credit cards tailored to college students or recent graduates with a short or no credit history, see our student credit cards.

Read our Chase Freedom® Student credit card review

Discover it® Secured Credit Card: Best credit card for people with no credit

Why we picked it: While negative items like a pending bankruptcy may decrease your approval odds for this card, having no credit history will not. Cardholders get 2% cash back at gas stations and at restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1%).

Pros: The credit limit ranges from $200 to $2,500 depending on what you’re comfortable putting down. Accounts are reviewed for credit line increases after eight months.

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

Who should apply? With its valuable rewards and high credit line (based on your deposit), plus the opportunity for a credit line increase, this is one of the better secured cards for someone rebuilding their credit.

Read our Discover it® Secured Credit Card review

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.

How we picked the best credit cards for people with no credit

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

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