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Whether you have always paid with cash or have made past credit mistakes, like missing payments, you might be tempted to eschew credit cards forever.
But credit cards are actually excellent tools for establishing or rebuilding credit.
And though you probably won’t qualify for one with all the bells and whistles (yet!), we’ve compiled a list of the easiest credit cards to get.
|Easiest For||Card Name|
|Limited or No Credit History|
|Average or Fair Credit|
Long story short: the easiest credit card to get depends on your creditworthiness.
When you apply for a credit card, the card issuer will run a credit check as part of the application process.
It’ll obtain your credit history from one or more of the major credit bureaus, and will also review factors that aren’t on your credit reports (like your income).
If you have a strong credit history and income, you’ll probably qualify for several good options. But if you don’t, you’ll have to be a bit more selective about the cards you apply for.
To see which cards might be appropriate, you can check for pre-qualified card offers on the issuers’ websites. These offers are like invitations to apply — and your chances of getting approved are better than with other cards.
If you’re just starting out and haven’t yet established a credit history, choosing the right card for building credit may seem like a challenge. But there are still quite a few cards available to you.
The easiest cards to get are typically secured credit cards, which require refundable security deposits to fund their credit limits. There are unsecured cards designed for no credit history, which you should check out first, but generally speaking you’ll have an easier time qualifying for secured cards, as they typically have low credit score requirements.
Certain card issuers will even conduct periodic automatic reviews that qualify cardholders for card upgrades if they’ve shown consistent responsible use with a secured credit account.
Some issuers, like Deserve, provide unsecured cards specifically for people with limited or no credit. Deserve will check more than the usual factors to determine your creditworthiness, like your education and career path.
When applying for cards like these you’ll have a better chance of approval if you’re well-paid and have good job prospects. This can show the issuer that you’ll be more likely to pay back your debts on time, even if you don’t yet have a credit history. The Deserve Pro Mastercard (Review), for example, is available to people with no credit but requires a decent salary.
Consider the following cards if you have limited or no credit. We’ve included the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® (Review) because it doesn’t require you to actually be a student, despite the name. And be sure to check out the easiest credit cards to get for bad credit below, as those cards could also be good options for your credit level.
Unfortunately, credit cards for people with bad credit (roughly a FICO Score 8 below 579) generally have low credit limits and high interest rates.
So, if you have poor credit, the easiest credit card to get is likely a secured credit card, which requires a refundable security deposit equal to the amount of the credit limit. Say you want a credit limit of $500 — you’ll need to give the issuer a $500 deposit.
If you want a higher line of credit, you may need to pay an additional deposit. It’s also worth noting that some secured cards charge annual fees.
Despite those downsides, secured credit cards are a great way to build your credit, because payments and other card activity go on your credit reports. (That’s in stark opposition to debit cards, which don’t build credit at all.)
If you have average or fair credit, you can move from secured cards (which require a deposit) to unsecured credit cards (which entrust you with a credit limit from the issuer, and often provide more compelling credit card offers all around).
Want to transfer a balance to a new credit card? It should come as no surprise that your likelihood of approval still comes down to creditworthiness.
If you’re approved for a balance transfer credit card, your credit limit will be based on your income and credit history. That being said, even if your new credit limit isn’t big enough to cover the whole balance you’d like to transfer, you could still save money by transferring a portion to the new card. On the other hand, you could also transfer balances from multiple high-interest cards to one card with a balance transfer offer as long as your credit limit is big enough to allow that.
In addition to all the other things college students need to worry about — student loans, laundry, finals — smart financial habits are a must.
Even if you have little or no credit established, you might qualify for these special cards for students. Just make sure you take your new responsibility seriously, as mistakes you make now could haunt you for years. Or, if you make wise financial choices now, you can reap the benefits for years to come with valuable credit cards and low interest rates.
Unless you’ve already established credit separately for your business, most credit card companies will require you to have great personal credit before they’ll issue your business a credit card.
For people with fair credit, there aren’t many business cards, but the Capital One® Spark® Classic (Review) is one good option. You may also be able to get a secured business credit card, which requires a deposit.
The CreditStacks Mastercard (Review) is a bit different, designed specifically for professionals who are relocating to the U.S. (although anyone is welcome to apply). It doesn’t require an SSN to apply, but you’ll need to provide one later.
When you have excellent credit, the world is your oyster. Not only will you have your pick of cards, you’ll usually receive a higher credit line and better terms.
Since there are so many options, we haven’t listed specific cards here — but you can choose from all types of cards, including:
Before applying for a credit card, you should be familiar with your credit scores and reports to see where you fall. (Here’s how to get a free credit score.)
Since credit scores indicate your creditworthiness, this information will help you see yourself from the credit card issuer’s perspective.
If your scores are not where you want them, work on building your credit. As we said, one of the best ways to do so is with smart use of credit cards: by paying your bills on time and in full every month.
Your credit card balances are reported to the credit bureaus each month and included on your credit reports, along with a report of whether you paid on time. A constant stream of timely monthly payments will show that you’re a responsible borrower, and can follow the terms of a loan. This helps you establish a positive credit history (and increases your scores).
To get your credit scores even higher, avoid maxing out your card. When you have more available credit, you have lower credit utilization — and higher scores.
Like everything in personal finance, the easiest credit cards to get depend on you and your situation (and, in this case, your credit reports). Find the card that works for you, pay your bill on time and in full, and enjoy watching your credit scores improve.
Whether you’re working with poor, average, excellent, or even no credit scores, choosing a card that caters to your credit situation can help maximize your approval odds.
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