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Credit Cards for People with No Credit

Written by: Joey Robinson | Edited by: Tracy Stewart | Reviewed by: Jason Steele
|

September 29, 2022

Here are the best credit cards for no credit of 2022:

BEST FOR CASH BACK
Discover it® Student Cash Back
Our rating:4.3 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.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) 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

5%
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
1%
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
15.99% - 24.99% variable
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.

Recommended credit

580-740 (Fair to Good) 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
28.49% variable
Capital One Quicksilver Secured 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.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) 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

5%
Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
1.5%
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, everywhere

At A Glance

Annual fee
$0
Balance transfer intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
28.49% variable
BEST FOR EARNING REWARDS + AVOIDING FEES
No annual fee
Petal® 2
Our rating:3.9 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.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) 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

1.5%
Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases 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
15.24% - 29.24% 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.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) 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
25.49% (Variable)
BEST FOR LOW APR
Self - Credit Builder Account with 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.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) 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
$25
Balance transfer intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
26.24% variable
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Comparing the best credit cards for people with no credit

Credit CardBest ForRewards RateSecurity DepositCreditcards.com Review
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit CardCredit line growthNo Rewards$49 – $2003.7 / 5
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
Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit CardCredit building + rewards1.5% cash back on every purchase; 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel$2003.5 / 5
Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit CardEarning rewards + avoiding fees1% cash back on all eligible purchases; 1.25% cash back on eligible purchases after six on-time payments; 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time payments$03.9 / 5
Citi® Secured Mastercard®Building CreditNone$200 – $2,5003.1 / 5
Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit CardLow APRNo RewardsOne-time $9 – $15 account fee (Varies by product)2.5 / 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; 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel$03.9 / 5
Chase Freedom® Student credit cardSign-up bonus1% cash back on all purchases; additional 4% cash back on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2025)$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

Editor’s picks: A closer look at our top-rated credit cards for people with no credit

Best credit line growth for people with no credit: Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

  • Best features: As a Mastercard, this product is widely accepted worldwide, making it extraordinarily convenient when traveling.
  • Biggest drawbacks: There’s no sign-up bonus, no ongoing rewards, and the regular APR is a super high 28.49% (Variable), making it a poor option for carrying a balance.
  • Alternatives: The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a great alternative to the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card if you want a card with a lower APR and the ability to graduate to an unsecured card down the line.
  • Bottom line: With the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, you have the opportunity to raise your credit limit after your first six months of on-time payments and responsible use, which is a solid feature for a credit-builder card.

Read our Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card review.

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

  • Best features: 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.
  • Biggest drawbacks: 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.
  • Alternatives: The Journey Student Rewards card from Capital One charges no foreign transaction fees, making it ideal for study abroad students. Plus, cardholders can increase their cash back rate from 1% to 1.25% after establishing a history of on-time payments.
  • Bottom line: This card’s ongoing interest rate is 15.99% to 24.99% variable, which is competitive for a card that caters to students and those with limited credit history.

Read our Discover it® Student Cash Back review.

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

  • Best features: 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.
  • Biggest drawbacks: 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.
  • Alternatives: The Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card is a terrific option for credit-builders since it’s available even with bad credit, charges no annual fee, does not require a security deposit and offers a chance at a credit limit as high as $5,000, depending on your credit history and financial profile.
  • Bottom line: 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.

Read our Capital One Platinum Credit Card review.

Best for credit building + rewards: Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Best features: The flat cash back rate of 1.5% on all purchases is a nice feature for a secured credit-building card.
  • Biggest drawbacks: You’ll need to pay your balances in full each month to avoid the high variable APR rate of 28.49%.
  • Alternatives: The Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card is an unsecured credit card that won’t require a $200 security deposit.
  • Bottom line: With responsible use, the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card can add value to your wallet while helping you improve your credit score.

Read our Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Best for earning rewards + avoiding fees: Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card

  • Best features: Approval for the Petal 2 is based on more than just creditworthiness: The credit card issuer, WebBank, also looks at your bank account, income, and the bills you pay. Plus, you can quickly check to see if you’re preapproved with no impact on your credit score. If approved, you won’t have to worry about having to pay an annual fee, foreign transaction fees, late payment fees, or a penalty APR.
  • Biggest drawbacks: This card may only be good for credit building, especially if you’re stuck at the low end of the credit limit. If you have an emergency expense, $300 may not be enough to cover your needs.
  • Alternatives: The Discover it® Student Cash Back is a good choice for those seeking cash back rewards, plus it offers a 0% intro APR for six months on purchases (15.99% to 24.99% variable APR thereafter).
  • Bottom line: The Petal 2 card is an unsecured credit card, so you won’t have to worry about putting a deposit down. People who are approved for the card immediately begin earning 1% cash back on every purchase. This rate grows based on your payment history: Once you make six on-time payments, you’ll earn 1.25% back on eligible purchases, followed by 1.5% on eligible purchases once you make 12 on-time payments. Plus, purchases made at select merchants can earn anywhere from 2% to 10% in cash back rewards.

Read our Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card review.

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

  • Best features: 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 and earn your deposit back by demonstrating the right habits.
  • Biggest drawbacks: This card offers no rewards. If that’s important to you, there are secured cards that do offer rewards programs.
  • Alternatives: A big win for the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card are its friendly user terms and low entry barrier. With a minimum $49 deposit (depending on your credit) you can have this card in your wallet with a $200-$1,000 initial credit limit (depending on your deposit).
  • Bottom line: A good choice for credit building, this card’s security deposit is refundable if you upgrade to an unsecured card within the first 18 months.

Read our Citi® Secured Mastercard® review.

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

  • Best features: 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.
  • Biggest drawbacks: You’ll pay a one-time account fee of $9 to $15, which varies by the product and a $25 annual fee for the credit card. Plus, you’ll have to wait at least three months to have access to your secured credit card.
  • Alternatives: Though it’s a secured card, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card offers an exceptionally low entry barrier. You can put down as little as $49 as a refundable deposit and still get a $200 credit limit, making this almost a hybrid secured-unsecured credit-building option.
  • Bottom line: 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 15.65%) for the no credit category (but note the credit card carries a 26.24% variable APR).

Read our Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit Card review.

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

  • Best features: 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 Discover matching all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The regular APR is 15.99% to 24.99% Variable, which makes it not the best choice for carrying a balance, although you can get a 0% for six months intro APR on purchases.
  • Alternatives: While the Chase Freedom® Student credit card comes with an underwhelming rewards rate of 1% back on all purchases, those who plan on staying with Chase for the long haul might later enjoy its lucrative Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
  • Bottom line: The Discover it Student chrome has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees as well as no categories to activate each quarter.

Read our Discover it® Student chrome review.

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

  • Best features: 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.
  • Biggest drawbacks: 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 28.49% (Variable).
  • Alternatives: If you are a student just learning the ropes of credit building, the Discover it® Student Cash Back is a great choice. Plus, the issuer will match all of the cash back you earned at the end of your first year.
  • Bottom line: 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.

Read our Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

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

  • Best features: 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 2025). 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 five years of card ownership.
  • Biggest drawbacks: 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.)
  • Alternatives: Like the Freedom Student, Journey Student Rewards from Capital One offers 1% cash back on every purchase. With the Journey, however, cardholders can boost their cash back for any month to 1.25% when they pay their bill on time.
  • Bottom line: 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 our Chase Freedom® Student credit card review.

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

  • Best features: The credit limit ranges from $200 to $2,500 depending on what you’re comfortable putting down. Accounts are reviewed to see if you can transition to an unsecured line of credit starting at seven months, and Discover’s first year Cashback Match is another added bonus.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The APR is high, at 25.99% variable, so carrying a balance is going to cost you more than the average card.
  • Alternatives: The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is a worthy alternative as it offers valuable purchase and travel protections in addition to no hidden fees and no annual fee.
  • Bottom line: 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%).

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.

Pros and cons of credit cards for people with no credit history

Pros of credit cards for people with no credit history

  • Grow your score. Most cards designed for those with limited or no credit history come with perks built to help increase your credit score. Be sure that your card reports payment habits to the three major credit bureaus, a must-have benefit found with the majority of cards here.
  • Control when you spend. With several of the cards here, you can work with your provider to negotiate a payment schedule that works for you. Setting your calendar to work smoothly around when you get paid and when your bills are due can be a flexible solution for some hectic schedules.
  • Establish good habits. Because these cards are a fresh slate for so many cardholders, you have the opportunity to start on a high note. If you’re an exemplary cardholder and commit to a routine of good habits while keeping the demerits away, your score could grow expeditiously.

Cons of credit cards for people with no credit history

  • Lack of extras. With cards for those with no credit, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you won’t get all the fancy frills featured with top cards. Although you can find solid cash back rewards here, you might have to wait until you reach good credit to take advantage of worthwhile sign-up bonuses, welcome offers and other juicy incentives.
  • Penalizing mistakes. By accepting applicants with low credit scores, card providers are taking on more risk with lesser-proven cardholders. To combat that risk, they often will charge you an extraordinarily high APR if you carry a balance or tack on hidden fees when you slip up.
  • Limited spending. Many starter cards will give short credit limits when beginning your journey, leaving some cardholders with little flexibility in their monthly spending. If you’re expecting to use your card for larger purchases or to run up an expensive bill, explore your options to see where you can get the most buying power.

How to choose a credit card with no credit history

Who should get a card for no credit history

  • The new cardholder. A little self-explanatory, but if you’re new to the credit card world, a card for those with no credit history can be a great place to get started. With minimal risk for approval hurdles, you can begin setting the trend of good habits to grow your score and can get acclimated to what it’s like to carry a credit card.
  • The student saver. College students and other young adults have lots to take advantage of with cards for no credit history. Some cards here come with cash back rates on student-focused purchases and other useful perks to help young credit-builders get started.
  • The rebuilding cardholder. If you’ve suffered from debt, bankruptcy or anything else that may crush your credit score, one of the choices here may be your saving grace. Although the cards here are designed for no credit history, some will allow for experienced cardholders with poor scores who are trying to climb back.

Who should skip a card for no credit history

  • The debt conqueror. If you’re looking to tackle a debt problem, a credit card could be a great place to start. Although many options here are built to help those with outstanding balances and other sticky situations, you’ll need a balance transfer credit card if you really want to manage your debt problem.
  • The rewards hunter. Some of the choices here have wonderful rewards for a card requiring no credit history, but someone looking for uncapped cash back, enticing travel offers and other valuable rewards should look elsewhere. If the top rewards cards aren’t in your credit range, a card here could be a great tool to grow your score along the way.
  • The on-their-way cardholder. If you’re someone who has experience as a cardholder but not too much success when it comes to growing your score, don’t be discouraged. There are cards for fair credit and other options on the market that can help as you continue to improve your credit history.

How to make the most of your credit card

When you’re starting out and building up your credit, your goal should be to match or exceed the 690 credit score target required to establish good credit. Here are a few tips to help you get there:

  • Develop healthy payment habits. When trying to build your credit, you should aim to pay off your balance on time and in full every month to avoid interest, or at least pay more than the minimum. Plus, you should plan to use less than 30% of your available credit limit at all times.
  • Keep your account open and active. Responsible credit card use over time is a component that the credit bureaus take into consideration. Demonstrating a responsible credit history can go a long way towards boosting your score over time.
  • Be meticulous. You can utilize credit monitoring tools offered by your issuer, bank or third-party sources to keep track of your score and check for any mistakes. If you do encounter any mistakes, you can dispute them and keep your credit score on track.
  • Evaluate your options. When initially searching for a credit card, you’ll want to consider if there is a path to a better credit card with the same issuer. After establishing a good credit history you may be able to upgrade to a better card with a higher credit limit and rewards rate while maintaining your line of credit.

Factors to look for in your first credit card

If you’ve made up your mind to get your first credit card in 2022, 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. Using tools like our CardMatch feature can help sort it out beforehand.
  • 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 the list of people who care about your credit score goes beyond just credit card issuers and lenders. Employers, landlords, even utility companies make decisions based on 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 and 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-building perks. The main goal of a card for people with no credit is to grow credit scores. We made sure the cards here had perks to improve credit score, such as flexible schedules and reporting payment habits.
  • Credit needed. When it comes to cards for no credit history, we made sure that our selections would be available for all to access. The cards here have low barriers to be accepted.
  • Hidden costs. With cards for those with no credit history, you’ll often find unexpected fees and penalizing rates whenever you make a mistake. To help newer cardholders, we sought out options without overly harsh punishments.
  • Miscellaneous benefits and features. While secondary to credit-building features, rewards rates and categories are a long-term feature to consider. Plus, you’ll want to evaluate the card’s credit monitoring tools and ability to improve your credit line.

More information on credit cards for people with no credit

For more information on all things credit cards and getting yourself established, continue reading content from our credit card experts:


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