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Want to get a credit card, but don’t know if your credit scores will pass the test?
Then you’re probably curious about credit cards that don’t check credit when applying. While these cards do exist, they’re usually not your best option.
Here’s what you need to know.
If you’re looking for a credit card without a credit check, your credit scores probably aren’t the greatest.
And that’s O.K. — the worst thing you can do for poor credit is hide.
To start rebuilding your scores, you need to use credit responsibly. One easy way to do so is with credit cards.
That’s because most credit card issuers report your behavior to the major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. And demonstrating responsible use of credit will help your scores recover.
The tricky thing is, when you apply for a credit card, most lenders will check your credit reports and credit scores. Not only will this result in a hard inquiry on your reports (which can further ding your scores a little bit) — but if you have bad credit, the lender is likely to deny you.
That’s why you might find no credit check credit cards appealing: You’ll get a new line of credit without a hard inquiry, and without risking rejection.
To get a no credit check credit card, you’re usually only required to:
Note that, while many cards tout “instant approval,” some issuers will still deny you if you’ve had recent delinquencies or tax liens, if they can’t verify your income or identity, or if your income is below their thresholds.
Before you rejoice at the existence of no credit check credit cards, however, we’d like to point out they’re not all rainbows and butterflies.
That leads to issues like:
The bottom line? We view no credit check credit cards as a last resort.
When you’re looking for credit cards with no credit checks or instant approval, you’ll see different options. Unsecured credit cards are your “typical” credit card. They come with a line of credit that’s based on your income and credit history; each time you swipe, you’re borrowing money from the credit card issuer. Secured cards require an upfront, refundable deposit (usually between $50 and $2,500), which then serves as your credit line.
If you’re still interested in a no credit check credit card, proceed at your own risk.
Look for one with low fees, and make sure it reports to the three major credit bureaus, as that’s what will help you build credit.
Here are a couple cards that don’t check your credit when you apply, but don’t expect them to be very useful for anything other than establishing or building credit.
This might be the best secured credit card with no credit check. It offers relatively low fees, and it reports to all three major credit bureaus each month.
If you’re looking for an unsecured card without a credit check, this Visa card is one of the few options. Beware — it has very high fees, and can’t be used at automated gas pumps, which is why we think it’s one of the worst credit cards out there.
With their poor customer experiences and high fees, no credit check credit cards aren’t usually the best choice for rebuilding your credit.
Here are four alternatives:
Secured credit cards have less stringent requirements than unsecured cards. They require a security deposit, which helps the issuer justify the risk that someone with no credit history or bad credit will not pay the bill.
While the following cards do require credit checks, they are targeted at users with poor credit and don’t reject applicants based on credit history. This makes them relatively easy to qualify for, even among other secured cards. They also have lower fees than some no credit check cards.
The cards above are some of the easiest secured cards to qualify for, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for one of them. If you have bad or limited credit, check out some of our relevant best credit card picks, many of which don’t have annual fees:
Many retail store credit cards have low approval requirements, making them attractive for people with poor or limited credit.
The “shopping cart trick,” according to Doctor Of Credit, might also allow you to get certain store credit cards without triggering a hard inquiry into your credit reports. While we haven’t tried this hack, and it may only provide pre-approvals rather than actual approvals, it might be worth exploring.
Just note you shouldn’t expect a lot from store credit cards. They often have low credit limits, outdated payment systems, and poor customer support. In general they’re only good for frequent shoppers of the co-branded store, where they usually offer discounts or other loyalty rewards. Some also provide special financing options that let you pay for expensive purchases over time with no interest. But they can be useful for building credit as well, as long as you use them responsibly.
If you have friends or family members with good credit, ask if they’d be willing to add you as an authorized user to their credit cards. They don’t even have to give you a copy of the card; just being added to the account means the card’s activity will get reported to the credit bureaus under your name.
Before trying this strategy, make sure the person is a responsible card user. If he or she stops paying the bills, you won’t be responsible for the balance — but the poor behavior will show up on your credit reports, which can damage your credit scores.
With a credit builder loan, you “borrow” a certain amount of money from a lender — but don’t actually get the money until your loan is paid off.
Say you take out a $1,000 credit builder loan. Each month, you could pay the lender $100 — a payment which will be reported to the credit bureaus. After ten months, you’d get your full $1,000 and a record of timely payments (and, hopefully, improved credit scores).
Learn more in our review of Self (formerly known as Self Lender), a provider of credit builder loans.
Whether you get a no credit check credit card, a secured card, or a credit builder loan, there are a few simple rules you should follow to improve your credit scores:
By following these rules, with all else being equal you’ll eventually qualify for any of the best credit cards available — and lenders will be begging you to apply for their cards!
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