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RATING
2021

Best Credit Cards for Limited or No Credit

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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.

How We Picked These Cards Is a Credit Card for No Credit Right for You?

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 Jasper Cash Back Mastercard® and Chase Freedom® Student credit card have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.

How We Picked These Cards

  • 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 credit 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?

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 good 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.

Best Pick For...

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  • Min. credit levelBad
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR23.99% Variable
  • 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, home improvement/furnishings
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • After you spend $2,500 in the 3% and 2% categories, you’ll earn 1% cash back until the quarter ends
  • Security deposit between $300-$4,900 is required to open your account upon approval
  • Bank of America will periodically review your account and return your security deposit if you qualify
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
Why We Picked It

Did you think you had to pick between a secured card or a rewards card? The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Card provides an answer, offering both in one handy package.

Spending Rewards
  • 3% cash back in one category of your choice:
    • Gas
    • Online shopping
    • Dining
    • Travel
    • Drug stores
    • Home improvement/furnishings
  • 2% cash back at:
    • Grocery stores
    • Wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 3% and 2% rewards only up to $2,500 spent per quarter, then 1% cash back

Unlike most cards, you’ll get to choose your own 3% category from a nice selection, including the rare and valuable online shopping.

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Secured card requires a deposit of $300 to $4,900 to be approved; the amount you deposit will help determine your credit limit.

Key Features
  • Free FICO credit score: View your FICO Score 8, based on your TransUnion credit report, whenever you’d like.
  • Security deposit: $300–$4,900
Runner Up1

Secured Sable ONE Credit Card

Spending Rewards
  • 2% cash back:
    • Amazon
    • Netflix
    • Hulu
    • Uber/Uber Eats
    • Spotify
    • Whole Foods
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Shopping and travel protections: Cellular Telephone Protection; Price Protection; Satisfaction Guarantee; Extended Warranty; Purchase Assurance; Car Rental Insurance; Travel Assistance Service; Airport Concierge
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Security deposit: Up to $10,000
View card details
Introductory Bonus

Discover it® Secured

Our rating:
  • Min. credit levelBad
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APRSee Terms
Why We Picked It

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

Spending Rewards
  • 2% cash back (on up to $1,000 spent per quarter, then 1%) at:
    • Gas stations
    • Restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • Cashback Match: Double all cash back earned in the first year; awarded at the end of the first year

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 eight months. If these automatic reviews show evidence of responsible card use, on this and other accounts, Discover 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, cardholders need to just apply for a different Discover card as usual.

Key Features
  • FICO Credit Scorecard: Keep tabs on your FICO Score 8, 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
  • New account and inquiry alerts: Get alerts if any new accounts or credit inquiries show up on your Experian credit report.
  • Purchase APR: See Terms
  • Balance Transfer APR: See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
Low Security Deposit

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Our rating:
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  • Min. credit levelBad
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR26.99% Variable
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you’re approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Platinum Secured card responsibly could help
  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Monitor your credit with CreditWise from Capital One. It’s free for everyone and checking your credit does not hurt your credit score
Security Deposit

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card (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 Capital One decides you’re worth the risk.

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

Key Features
  • Access a higher credit line: You may be automatically considered for a higher credit line after six months.
  • Capital One CreditWise: The Capital One CreditWise service lets you monitor your VantageScore 3.0 credit score, based on your TransUnion credit report. This is a great feature to have because it gives you a way to track your progress as you improve your credit, which is one basic goal of a secured card.
  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection: Get help if your identity is compromised, at no cost.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
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  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR26.99% Variable
  • 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
  • Earn $5 per month for 12 months on Select Streaming Subscriptions when you pay on time. *Exclusions Apply
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
Why We Picked It

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 decent income and solid employment history.

Spending Rewards
  • 1% cash back for every purchase
    • 1.25% cash back if you pay on time
Key Features
  • Access a higher credit line: You may be automatically considered for a higher credit line after six months.
  • $60 streaming credit: $5 per month for 12 months on select streaming services, when you pay on time
  • Capital One CreditWise: The CreditWise service provides free access to one of your VantageScore 3.0 credit scores, based on your TransUnion credit report. You can monitor your score over time and get alerts about any changes.
  • Capital One Second Look account monitoring: Keep an eye on your account with Second Look, and get access to account alerts to be notified of any activity on your account.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
Unsecured, Low Fee

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Our rating:
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  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR26.99% Variable
  • Pay no annual fee
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you’re all set
  • 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 build your credit through responsible use of a card like this
Why We Picked It

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 relatively 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.

Key Features
  • Higher credit line: You may be automatically considered for a higher credit line after six months.
  • Capital One CreditWise: The CreditWise service provides free access to one of your VantageScore 3.0 credit scores, based on your TransUnion credit report. You can monitor your score over time and get alerts about any changes. Anyone can enroll in the CreditWise service, cardholder or not.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
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  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR12.99 - 26.99% Variable
  • No fees whatsoever. No late fee, foreign transaction fee, annual fee, or any-other-kind-of-fee, fee.
  • Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments
  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away
  • 2% – 10% cash back at select merchants
  • $500-$10,000 credit limits
  • Variable APRs 12.99%-26.99%
  • Build credit alongside tens of thousands of Petal Card members
  • Cash flow technology may help applicants without credit history get approved
  • Petal’s mobile app makes it easy to manage your money, track your spending, and automate payments
  • See if you’re pre-approved within minutes without impacting your credit score
  • Petal reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • No deposits required
  • Card issued by WebBank, Member FDIC
Why We Picked It

The Petal® 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa® Card (Review) is specifically designed to help you break into the world of credit. How?

Even if you have no established credit history at all, with no credit scores, you still have a chance at approval because Petal will take a look at your “full financial picture.” This means you’ll have to link your bank account to Petal, so it can see how you handle your money. If you do have some established credit, Petal will check it with a hard inquiry, and in this case you may not have to link your bank account.

You won’t find any fees here, apart from potential interest fees. No annual fee, foreign transaction fee, late payment fee, etc. And you can avoid interest fees, too, by always paying your statement balance in full.

There’s even a solid cash back rewards program, where you can earn more by making on-time payments. Overall, it’s an excellent and inexpensive option for improving your credit scores.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases initially
  • 1.25% cash back on eligible purchases after 6 on-time payments
  • 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after 12 on-time payments
Key Features
  • Petal Offers: Get 2% – 10% cash back from select merchants, with no activation necessary.
  • Visa Local Offers: Earn Uber Cash when making purchases at select merchants by adding your Petal card to the Uber app.
  • Free credit score: Check one of your credit scores from your Experian credit report, whenever you’d like.
  • Purchase APR: 12.99 - 26.99% Variable
  • Credit limit: $500–$10,000
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
Runner Up1

Petal® 1 No Annual Fee Visa® Card

  • Petal’s cash flow technology: Looks at bank account records to help you qualify
  • Petal Offers: Get 2% – 10% cash back from select merchants, with no activation necessary.
  • Visa Local Offers: Earn Uber Cash when making purchases at select merchants by adding your Petal card to the Uber app.
  • Free credit score: Check one of your credit scores from your Experian credit report, whenever you’d like.
  • Purchase APR: 12.99 - 26.99% Variable
  • Credit limit: $500–$10,000
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Issued by WebBank, Member FDIC
View card details
No Credit Check

Secured Sable ONE Credit Card

Our rating:
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  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APRPrime + 6.99% Variable
  • 2% cash back with Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Uber/Uber Eats, Spotify, Whole Foods
  • $25 reward when you raise one of your credit scores above 700 within the first 12 months (must start below 650)
  • Benefits include Price Protection, Mastercard Car Rental Insurance, Extended Warranty Protection, Purchase Assurance
  • Sable reports your credit history to the three major credit bureaus
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
Why We Picked It

Having a tough time qualifying for credit cards? You may have to think about the Secured Sable ONE Credit Card, although no credit check cards like this are usually seen as a last resort, after secured cards.

No credit check means Sable won’t look at your credit reports when you apply, giving you an opportunity even if you’re dealing with terrible credit. And that means no hard credit inquiry, which is a good thing for your credit.

This is a secured card, and it requires a deposit of up to $10,000 to get started. Your credit line will be equal to the amount you deposit.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 2% cash back:
    • Amazon
    • Netflix
    • Hulu
    • Uber/Uber Eats
    • Spotify
    • Whole Foods
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Key Features
  • Shopping and travel protections: Cellular Telephone Protection; Price Protection; Satisfaction Guarantee; Extended Warranty; Purchase Assurance; Car Rental Insurance; Travel Assistance Service; Airport Concierge
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Security deposit: Up to $10,000
Runner Up1

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

  • Purchase APR: 17.39% Variable
  • Annual fee: $35
View card details
No Bank Account Required

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Our rating:
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  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR22.49% (Variable)
  • The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a no annual fee credit card that helps you build your credit when used responsibly.
  • Unlike a debit card, it helps build your credit history with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus. Once available, you will also have free access to your FICO score online.
  • Use your card anywhere Mastercard® is accepted — worldwide.
  • A security deposit is required. Once approved, your credit limit will be equal to your security deposit (minimum of $200).
  • Get help staying on track with Auto Pay and account alerts.
  • With Flexible Payment Due Dates, you can choose any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month.
  • Manage your account 24/7 online, by phone, or in our mobile app.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 22.49%. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
Why We Picked It

If you don’t have a bank account to make your security deposit, you won’t be able to apply for most secured cards.

But the Citi® Secured Mastercard® (Review) allows you to pay the deposit by other methods; you’ll need to visit a Citibank location in person to do this. If you do have a bank account, you can simply use the online application as you normally would.

A security deposit of $200 to $2,500 is required. Your credit limit will be equal to the deposit.

After using the card for some time, Citi may review your card account and credit to see if you qualify for an upgrade. We heard from a reader who was offered an upgrade to the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card (Review) in less than a year.

Key Features
  • Shopping and travel protections: You may get some benefits from Citi and/or Mastercard.
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 22.49% (Variable)
  • Annual fee: $0

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APRSee Terms
Why We Picked It

If you’re a student with limited or no credit, your first look should be to the Discover it® Student Cash Back (Review). With excellent cash back rates and terms, it’s a great rewards card in general, not just a great student card.

The rewards program is just like the non-student version, the Discover it® Cash Back (Review). The benefits are the same, except the student version gives you a little bonus for having good grades.

It’s easy to stay fee-free: With no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee, this card could be completely free to use if you avoid interest charges by always paying your balance in full.

Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate every three months (on the first $1,500 spent per quarter, then 1%; activation required)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • Cashback Match: Double all cash back rewards earned in the first year
5% Cash Back Calendar

The 5% cash back calendar for 2021 is:

Quarter 5% Cash Back Categories
January – March Grocery Stores, Walgreens, CVS
April – June Gas Stations, Wholesale Clubs, Select Streaming Services
July – September Restaurants, PayPal
October – December Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com
Key Features
  • Good Grade Reward: Discover will give you a $20 statement credit reward for every year that you get a 3.0 GPA or higher, for up to five years.
  • Free credit score: Track your FICO Score 8 over time, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Social Security number alerts: Get notified if your SSN is found on any thousands of risky websites.
  • New account alerts: Get notified of any new accounts or inquiries on your Experian credit report.
  • Purchase APR: See Terms
  • Balance Transfer APR: See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
Runners Up6

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Spending Rewards
  • 8% cash back at Vivid Seats (until 1/31/23)
  • 3% cash back for:
    • Dining
    • Grocery stores
    • Streaming services
    • Entertainment
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Perks: Capital One Shopping; Concierge service; Free credit scores with CreditWise; Premier Culinary Experiences; Must-See Music Events; Big-Time Sports Events
  • Shopping and travel protections: Extended Warranty; Travel Accident Insurance; Travel Assistance Services
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
View card details

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for Students

  • 3% cash back in one category of your choice:
    • Gas
    • Online shopping
    • Dining
    • Travel
    • Drugstores
    • Home improvement/furnishings stores
  • 2% cash back at:
    • Grocery stores
    • Wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Spending limit: 3% and 2% rewards only up to $2,500 per quarter, then 1%
  • $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • Perks: Preferred Rewards program; free credit score
  • Purchase APR: 0% for 15 billing cycles, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable
  • Balance transfer APR: 0% for 15 billing cycles, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
View card details

Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Spending Rewards
  • 8% cash back at Vivid Seats (until 1/31/23)
  • 3% cash back for:
    • Dining
    • Grocery stores
    • Streaming services
    • Entertainment
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Perks: Capital One Shopping; Concierge service; Free credit scores with CreditWise; Premier Culinary Experiences; Must-See Music Events; Big-Time Sports Events
  • Shopping and travel protections: Extended Warranty; Travel Accident Insurance; Travel Assistance Services
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
View card details

Discover it® Student chrome

  • 2% cash back (up to $1,000 spent per quarter) at:
    • Gas stations
    • Restaurants
  • 1% cash back for every other purchase
  • Cashback Match: Double all cash back rewards earned in the first year
  • Perks: Free credit score; new account and inquiry alerts
  • Purchase APR: See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms
  • Balance transfer APR: See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
View card details

Chase Freedom® Student credit card

  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • $50 bonus after your first purchase within 3 months of account opening
  • Perks: Credit limit increase; Good Standing Rewards; three-month DoorDash subscription
  • Purchase APR: 14.99% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0
View card details

Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

  • 3% cash back for the first 6 months, up to $2,500 spent, on:
    • Gas stations
    • Grocery stores
    • Drugstores
  • 1% cash back for every other purchase
  • Bonus cash back at participating merchants in the Earn More Mall
  • Purchase APR: 14.99% Variable
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
View card details
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  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR0% for 12 months, then 14.99%–22.99% Variable
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don’t expire
  • 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days – that can be a $250 statement credit towards travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – no blackout dates and restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Now with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 17.24%–25.24% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • Access your FICO® Score, updated monthly, for free from TransUnion
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25%-75%. Click “Apply Now” to learn more about Preferred Rewards
Why We Picked It

If you’re a student who needs a card to get you around the country, or a handy payment method when you’re traveling overseas, the Bank of America Travel Rewards® Credit Card for Students could fit the bill.

For no annual fee you’ll get solid rewards, with an above-average 1.5X points for non-category purchases. And if you can plan your travel through the Bank of America Travel Center you’ll earn double that, which translates to a 3% cash back equivalent.

You’ll pay no foreign transaction fees either, a handy feature for anyone on a trip outside the country. See all of our favorite cards for studying abroad here.

Spending Rewards
  • 3X points per dollar on purchases from the Bank of America Travel Center
  • 1.5X points per dollar for all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 25,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
Key Features
  • Free FICO credit score: Check your FICO Score 8, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Purchase APR: 0% for 12 months, then 14.99%–22.99% Variable
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.99%–22.99% Variable
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
International Students

Deserve Edu Mastercard

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  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR18.74% Variable
  • Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student on Deserve after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles with your EDU card (Lifetime Value of $59).
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you’ll automatically start earning cash back on all purchases.
  • Feel secure with cell phone protection up to $600.
  • No deposit required. No annual fees.
  • No international transaction fees on purchases abroad so you can travel with confidence.
  • No Social Security Number required for international students to apply.
  • Refer A Friend Program: Refer anyone to Deserve using your personal referral code. Upon approval, card activation and use, you’ll receive $30 and so will your referral. Referral bonuses are unlimited!
  • Manage and track your spending, set automatic payments and securely freeze your card all through one easy to use app.
  • See if you prequalify with no impact to your credit score in minutes.
  • Deserve Mastercards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC.
  • Enjoy Mastercard Platinum Benefits intended to make your life easier like Mastercard ID Theft Prevention(TM) and Master Rental(R).
Why We Picked It

The Deserve Edu Mastercard (Review) is rather unique. There are two features that make it more accessible for international students than the average card:

  • You don’t need an SSN to apply.
  • Deserve will check more than the usual factors to determine your creditworthiness, like education, financial health, future employability, and earning potential. (But Deserve will need to connect to your bank account.)

So if you haven’t started building up your credit in the U.S. yet, or you have a thin credit profile, you’ll still have a decent shot at approval with the Deserve Edu.

To qualify, international students will need their student visa, passport ID, school document (e.g. I-20 or DS 2019), and proof of a U.S. bank account balance.

Spending Rewards
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • One year of Amazon Prime Student for spending $500 in the first 3 billing cycles

See some other useful credit cards for international students here.

Key Features
  • 12-month Priority Pass Select membership: For spending $1,000 in 120 or 155 days (offer available to select applicants and cardholders only)
  • Lemonade Insurance rebate: A $10 statement credit after making three consecutive payments for Lemonade Renters and Home Insurance
  • Feather furniture rental rebate: A $100 statement credit for your first month’s payment to Feather, when using code “DESERVE100”
  • Shopping and travel protections: Cell Phone Insurance up to $600, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Price Protection, and more
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
Professional Immigrants to the U.S.

Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®

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  • Min. credit levelFair
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR15.49%–24.99% Variable (based on creditworthiness)
  • Up to 6% cash back by referring friends!
  • Start with 1% and get an extra 1% for a full year for every friend you bring on board.
  • Cash back not limited to certain categories, earn on almost all everyday purchases.
  • No annual fee, no security deposit, no foreign transaction fees.
  • Simple, intuitive app to manage your account.
  • Unique auto payment options that help you build and maintain your credit score.
  • Receive cash back automatically every month as a statement credit after three on time payments.
  • Earn cash back as long as your account is in good standing.
  • Your cash back maximum varies based on your credit limit.
  • Issued by WebBank, Member FDIC.
Why We Picked It

Relocating to the U.S. comes with a set of challenges, one of which is the problem of how to start building up your credit. How do you get approved for credit cards and other financial products if you don’t yet have an established credit history?

The Jasper Cash Back Mastercard® (Review) was designed to fill that gap for professional immigrants, lowering the traditional barriers to entry. You don’t need a credit history to get approved, and you don’t need an SSN to apply, although you will need to get one and provide it to Jasper within 60 days of card activation (if you’ve been living in the U.S. for at least a year, you’ll need to undergo a credit check and provide an SSN to apply).

You can also apply for this card before you even land in the U.S. — you can submit an application up to 60 days in advance, or check to see if you’re prequalified if your move date is further away.

While the Jasper card was originally created to help immigrants, anyone in the U.S. with limited or no credit can use it to help improve his or her credit scores.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • Up to 6% cash back on every eligible purchase (See terms: ):
    • 1% cash back normally (new referrals start at 2% for 12 months)
    • 1% extra cash back for 12 months per approved referral
Key Features
  • Shopping and travel protections: Extended Warranty, Price Protection, Satisfaction Guarantee, Purchase Assurance, Cellular Wireless Telephone Protection, MasterRental Collision Damage Waiver, and more
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0

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

Self Credit Builder Loan Customers

Self Secured Visa® Credit Card

Our rating:
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  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$25
  • Purchase APR23.99% Variable
  • Secured card
  • No hard inquiry
  • No chance of rejection
  • No application
  • No extra deposit needed
  • Credit limit based on Self Credit Builder Account savings
  • $25 annual fee
  • Issued by Lead Bank
Why We Picked It

Self is a company that provides credit builder loans, a special type of loan where the sole purpose is to help you improve your credit scores. It’s like a reverse loan — first you make all your loan payments, showing a responsible payment record, then you get the funds.

Enter the Self Secured Visa® Credit Card (Review). It’s a unique card, only available to eligible Self customers in good standing.

The great thing about this card is that if you follow all the steps below, there’s no chance of denial (and no hard inquiry either). That makes it an easy grab.

The application process is relatively straightforward:

  1. Have an open Credit Builder Account.
  2. Make at least three on-time monthly payments in a row.
  3. Make at least $100 in payments on your Credit Builder Account.
  4. Make sure you’re all caught up on fees.
  5. Choose your credit limit and request your card. Your credit limit can’t be any more than your Credit Builder Account balance.
  6. Pay the annual fee.
Key Features
  • Purchase APR: 23.99% Variable
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $25

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get a credit card with no (or limited) credit?

There are actually quite a few credit cards available to those with limited credit or no credit history whatsoever.

Secured credit cards are among the best options. You have to provide a refundable security deposit up front, which can be an obstacle, but that’s expected since the lender’s taking a significant risk by lending to someone with minimal credit history. Secured cards usually still involve a credit check, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be approved.

Unsecured cards designed for limited credit exist, but good options are rare, and you still have to meet certain criteria. The Petal® 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa® Card (Review), for example, uses your bank account information to determine whether you qualify. Then there’s the Self Secured Visa® Credit Card (Review) — it doesn’t require a credit check, but you have to be a Self Credit Builder Account customer to qualify. You may be able to qualify for certain student cards, too.

Those are just a few examples. When choosing a card, browse carefully and look for a card that makes sense with your current situation. Some cards designed for no credit are known for obnoxious fees and poor customer service, so you’ll want to know what you’re getting yourself into before you apply.

What’s the best credit card for people with limited or no credit?

The answer depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re OK with paying a refundable security deposit, consider the Discover it® Secured (Review), which grants you 2% back on your first $1,000 spent quarterly at restaurants and gas stations and 1% on everything else. It’s rare for a secured card to be so rewarding, and because it’s a secured card, it should be quite easy to get.

Hoping to find an unsecured card you qualify for? Look into the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One (Review). You’ll rack up flat-rate rewards on every purchase, and anyone can apply, even if you’re not a student.

If easy approval is important to you, check out the Petal® 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa® Card (Review). Your credit can be used during the approval process, but if you haven’t built any, don’t worry — you’ll likely be asked to connect your bank account so the issuer can make a decision based on your financial situation.

Other options include:

What are the best credit cards for students with no credit?

Most student cards involve a credit check, but you can still be approved even if you’re working with limited to no credit. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s possible.

Some of our favorite student credit cards include:

Are there any credit cards for limited/no credit that don’t require a deposit?

Yes, there are. But if you’re not providing a deposit, you’ll typically have to meet some other requirements instead. Our top picks include:

  • Journey Student Rewards from Capital One (Review): As with most student cards, you may be able to get this card even with little to no credit, and you don’t actually have to be a student to apply. This card’s meager reward rate isn’t huge, but for an unsecured card that’s available with no deposit, this is about as good as it gets.
  • Capital One Platinum Credit Card (Review): This relatively featureless unsecured card is designed for individuals with limited credit, but there’s a chance you may be approved even with no credit.
  • Petal® 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa® Card (Review): Petal explores your “full financial picture” to determine whether applicants qualify. If you’ve built some credit, you’ll have to deal with a hard inquiry, but if not, you can still apply. You might be asked to connect your bank account during the application process, so the issuer can get a better idea of your money habits.

Are there any instant approval credit cards for people with no credit?

Most traditional cards will provide a decision moments after you apply. So, by definition, most credit cards designed for applicants with limited or no credit qualify as “instant approval credit cards.”

If it’s guaranteed approval credit cards you’re looking for, you’ll have to be careful. These kinds of cards are out there, but they’re often associated with high fees, confusing terms, poor benefits, and frustrating customer support.

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