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2020

Best Credit Cards for Limited or No Credit

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Credit Card Insider is an independent, advertising supported website. Credit Card Insider receives compensation from some credit card issuers as advertisers. Advertiser relationships do not affect card ratings or our Editor’s Best Card Picks. Credit Card Insider has not reviewed all available credit card offers in the marketplace. Content is not provided or commissioned by any credit card issuers. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information, though all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on any ‘Apply Now’ button, the most up-to-date terms and conditions, rates, and fee information will be presented by the issuer. Credit Card Insider has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Credit Card Insider and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. A list of these issuers can be found on our Editorial Guidelines.

If you don't have any credit yet, it might seem hard to take that first step towards building a credit history. How can you be approved for a credit card if you don't have any credit reports to check? There are actually quite a few options for you, covering both secured cards and unsecured cards.

Best Credit Cards for Limited or No Cred...
Brendan Harkness

By Brendan Harkness

Our Selection Criteria

  • No or low fees: You may need to pay an annual fee if you’re just starting to build your credit profile, but not in every case. Avoid predatory cards with exorbitant setup or monthly fees.
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus: To build a credit history your card activity needs to be reported to the major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. All the cards mentioned on this page will report activity in this way.
  • Easy to use: Establishing a credit history doesn’t need to cause headaches. The best credit cards for no credit won’t cause problems when charging to the card, making payments, or checking account information.
  • Reliable customer service: Many issuers that offer cards for people with no credit tend to have poor customer support. Save yourself a lot of trouble by sticking with the major card issuers as much as possible.
  • Rewards: Credit cards for no credit don’t usually offer rewards, but there are a few that do. Rewards aren’t important for establishing a credit history, but if you can qualify for a rewards card, it’s a nice bonus.
  • Other perks: Most cards for no credit only come with some basic shopping and travel protections. But in some cases you’ll find some more valuable benefits being offered.
Is a Credit Card for No Credit Right for You?
Best Credit Cards for Limited or No Cred...
Brendan Harkness

By Brendan Harkness

Is a Credit Card for No Credit Right for You?

If your goal is to establish a positive credit history, credit cards can help you get there. Even starting from nothing, there are some credit card offers that can help get your foot in the door.

Although you won’t qualify for the most valuable and interesting cards, you aren’t stuck with the absolute worst cards either. Having no credit can actually be better than having poor credit when it comes to applying for your first credit card.

You don’t have a history of negative activity weighing you down, which could automatically disqualify you from some card offers. (If you do have a negative credit history, check out some credit cards designed for bad credit.)

It’s important to always use credit cards responsibly, and this is even more crucial when you’re trying to build credit. This is actually pretty simple; the main challenge is making consistent, on-time payments (preferably of your full statement balance) month after month.

If you can handle these three conditions, you can use a credit card (or cards) to help establish an excellent credit history.

Take some time to read more in our Definitive Guide to Building Credit with Credit Cards. You’ll learn all about how credit cards affect your credit, how to use them to increase your scores, and how to qualify for the best cards on the market.

There’s more to a strong credit history than just credit cards. Check out the other elements that factor into your credit and how to maximize each category for the best credit scores.

Our Selection Criteria
BEST PICK FOR

Secured With Rewards, No Annual Fee

Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

Our rating
Min. credit level Bad
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee $0
Regular APR 24.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Discover it® Secured (Review) is our pick for the best secured card. Rather than punishing you for having no credit, this card actually has a decent cash rewards program.

You’ll need to make a minimum security deposit of $200, with a maximum of $2,500.

Discover will review your credit card account every 8 months. If these automatic reviews reveal evidence of responsible card use, on this and other accounts, they may return your security deposit and allow you to keep using the card.

There isn’t an option to upgrade the Discover it Secured to an unsecured card. Instead, you need to just apply for a different Discover card as usual.

  • 2% cash back on the first $1,000 spent per quarter at:
    • restaurants
    • gas stations
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Cashback Match: New cardmembers get double the cash back earned in the first year
  • 6-month 10.99% balance transfer intro APR (very rare for a secured card), followed by a regular rate of 24.49% Variable.
  • FICO Credit Scorecard: Keep tabs on your FICO 8 Credit Score, based on your TransUnion report, and get tips to improve your credit scores.
  • Social Security number alerts: Notifications if your SSN is found on any thousands of risky websites.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It’s a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can’t help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click “APPLY NOW” to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
BEST PICK FOR

Secured, Low Security Deposit

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Our rating
Min. credit level Bad
Details
Annual Fee $0
Regular APR 26.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® (Review) is a good pick if you want to pay the lowest security deposit possible.

Depending on your creditworthiness — such as income and rent payments — you’ll be given a minimum required security deposit. This will be one of the following:

  • $49
  • $99
  • $200

No matter which amount you’re required to deposit, you’ll end up getting a $200 credit limit. So you may end up paying just $49 for a $200 limit, if they decide you’re worth the risk. Or you may have to pay $200 to get a $200 limit, which is the normal offer for most secured cards.

The maximum security deposit for the Capital One Secured card is $1,000.

  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you’ll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It’s a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide

The information related to Capital One® Secured Mastercard® has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

BEST PICK FOR

Unsecured, No Annual Fee

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Our rating
Min. credit level Limited Credit History
Details
Annual Fee $0
Regular APR 26.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

You don’t need to be a student to apply for the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® (Review), despite the name.

This rewards credit card is designed for average or limited credit. But you may have a chance of being approved with no credit history, especially if you have a high income and solid employment history.

  • 1% cash back for every purchase
    • pay on time and that goes up to 1.25% cash back
  • Increase your credit limit: Access a higher credit line after making the first five monthly payments on time.
  • CreditWise Credit Monitoring: Keep tabs on your TransUnion credit report, and see your VantageScore 3.0 based on that report.
  • Minimum credit limit: $300
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $0
  • 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
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get Eno®, your Capital One® assistant, to manage your account via text, receive alerts, and shop safer online
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone

The information related to Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

BEST PICK FOR

Unsecured, Low Fee

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit level Limited Credit History
Details
Annual Fee $0
Regular APR 26.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card (Review) was designed for people with fair or average credit histories, though it may also be accessible for people with limited or no credit.

There aren’t many features (though you will get easy access to a higher credit line) but you can use this card to help build up your credit scores and eventually qualify for a sweet rewards credit card.

  • Higher credit line: Access a higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on time.
  • CreditWise: Monitor your VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report, online or through the mobile app.
  • Shopping and Travel protections: Including Travel Accident Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waivers, and more
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 26.99% Variable
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Pay no annual fee
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee – and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use

The information related to Capital One® Platinum Credit Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.

The information related to Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®, and Capital One® Platinum Credit Card have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.

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