Updated on Mar 6, 2020

Best Credit Cards for No Credit

Have no credit history? No problem – there’s a starter credit card out there for you.

It can be daunting to apply for a credit card when you have no credit, but it can also help you build a credit history and start earning rewards. The best credit cards for no credit give first-time cardholders an opportunity to establish financial livelihood. See the best credit cards for no credit below.

Summary

The Best Credit Cards for No Credit in 2020

Our Two Cents

Credit cards for no credit offer high approval odds to anyone who’s just starting out in the world of consumer credit. When you have no credit, it can be tough to purchase big-ticket items or get the green light to rent an apartment or finance a car.

But in just a few months, you can build a credit score, establish responsible spending habits and be on your way to broader financial options. The Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, for example, can give you access to a higher credit line after you make your first five monthly payments on time. And Americans are using their credit cards now more than ever to make purchases and establish credit.

As of 2017, roughly 30% of borrowers with credit scores between 620 and 659 have limits below $2,000, and 84% of borrowers with scores of 780 or higher have limits greater than $10,000, according to a TransUnion Q1 2017 Industry Insight Report.

If your goal is to build your credit score and grow your credit line over time, it might be worth considering a starter credit card aimed at those with no credit.

Best for building credit

Discover it® Secured

Rewards Summary 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Redeem for... Cash back

Current Offer We automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Discover Show Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • 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.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% Variable
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 10.99%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 6 months
  • Ongoing APR: 24.49% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

With a refundable deposit, rewards and Discover’s cash back match at the end of the first year, this card should be at the top of your list if you need a secured card to help you rebuild credit. Even after rebuilding your credit, you’ll want to hang on to this card.

How to use it
The Discover it® Secured card allows you to earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 worth of purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter, and 1% cash back on everything else. Discover even automatically matches the rewards you earn at the end of your first year.
Consider this

  • High variable purchase APR of 24.49% Variable
  • Low $2,500 maximum credit limit
  • 2% cash back rewards are capped at $1,000 each quarter on purchases at restaurants and gas stations

Why you'll love it

A secured card that offers rewards is a rarity, but the Discover it® Secured card breaks that stereotype. This card puts more money back in your pocket by offering a refundable deposit, no annual fee, forgiveness on your first late payment and essential cash back rewards in common spending categories.

Start your application now Back to top

Pro Tip


Pro tip: Be sure to pay off the balance in full each month with the Discover it® Secured card since the interest rate is higher than usual.
Apply Now on Capital One's secure website.

Best for no annual fee

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Rewards Summary N/A
Redeem for... N/A

Current Offer N/A
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Capital One Show Highlights
  • 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
  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.99% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 26.99% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

For people who can’t get approved for cards requiring higher credit scores, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® provides an entry to building up credit, as long as payments are made on time. Plus, you won’t have to worry about paying an annual fee.

How to use it
A refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200 is required to get approved for this card. Your credit history will be regularly reported to the three major credit bureaus, and full, on-time payments can help increase your line of credit and improve your credit score.
Consider this

  • Required to make a refundable minimum security deposit of $49, $99 or $200
  • High variable purchase APR of 26.99% (Variable)
  • No rewards structure

Why you'll love it

For those with the goal of building credit, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a straightforward option. If you qualify, it has one of the lowest minimum refundable security deposit requirements. Although it has a high APR and no rewards program, you’ll get access to a higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on time.

Start your application now Back to top

Pro Tip


Pro tip: With the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, you can choose their own monthly due date to make payments, as well as a preferred payment method — at a local branch, by check or online.

Best for cash back rewards

Discover it® Student chrome

Rewards Summary 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.
Redeem for... Cash back

Current Offer Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Discover Show Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • 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.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.49% - 23.49% applies.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 6 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 10.99%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 6 months
  • Ongoing APR: 14.49% - 23.49% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

The may be a good fit if you’re looking for more control over the rewards you earn and want to avoid paying an annual fee.

How to use it
Cardholders earn 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations, up to $1,000 in transactions each quarter. All other purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back.
Consider this

  • Limited to 2% cash back at only gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • No extra perks (travel accident insurance or rental vehicle waivers)
  • High interest rate on purchases after 0% intro period for 6 months (then ongoing 14.49% - 23.49% Variable)

Why you'll love it

After the end of the first year of using the , cardholders get all cash back matched —with no limit to how much you earn — plus no annual fee to keep track of.

Start your application now Back to top

Pro Tip


Pro tip: Students can earn a $20 statement credit every year for up to five years after using the card when they have a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Apply Now on Capital One's secure website.

Best for college students

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Rewards Summary 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
Redeem for... Cash back

Current Offer N/A
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Capital One Show Highlights
  • 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
  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Rewards Details: 1 % Cash Back on all purchases. 0.25 % Cash Back bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.99% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 26.99% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® card can be an effective tool for college students who want to build up a strong credit score. It’s also great for students who plan to study abroad since there’s no foreign transaction fee.

How to use it
The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® card has a unique cash back rewards structure – get 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases – with the option to earn more. If you pay off your card on time, you can earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases made in that month.
Consider this

  • No intro purchase APR period ($0)
  • Lower rewards rate compared to other cards
  • Up to a $39 penalty fee for late payments

Why you'll love it

This card provides consistent cash back rewards to students who spend in common categories like online shopping, rideshares, restaurants and grocery stores. Students who plan to use their credit card for most of their purchases will automatically get 1% cash back.

Start your application now Back to top

Pro Tip


Pro tip: The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® card offers unlimited access to your credit score and tools to help you monitor your credit with CreditWise from Capital One®.
Apply Now on Green Dot Bank's secure website.

Best for instant approval

Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card

Rewards Summary N/A
Redeem for... N/A

Current Offer N/A
Annual Fee $49
Highlights Provided by Green Dot Bank Show Highlights
  • Credit lines available from $200 to $5,000! Super Low Fixed 9.99% interest rate on purchases - with no penalty rate!
  • No minimum credit score requirements! We invite all credit types to apply! No processing or application fees!
  • Helps strengthen your credit with responsible card use. Reports to three national bureaus
  • Fast, easy application process. Choose your credit line and open your Personal Savings DepositnAccount to secure your line.
  • Issuer: Green Dot Bank
  • Annual Fee: $49
  • Cash Advance APR: 18.99% Fixed
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.
  • Ongoing APR: 9.99% Fixed

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card is a great option for people who don’t have credit, but want instant access to a large line of credit. This card has a high credit limit, but your line of credit depends on how much you put down as a security deposit. You can put down as little as $200 or as much as $5,000 to take advantage of this card’s lower-than-average interest rate.

How to use it
You’ll want to deposit a minimum of $200 to open your secured line of credit with the Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card, which will be your credit limit. It’s important to make your payments on time because the card issuer reports your payment history to the credit bureaus, so you can build your credit.
Consider this

  • $49 annual fee
  • Foreign transaction fee is 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.
  • Late payment fee of up to $29

Why you'll love it

The Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card has a high credit limit, allowing you to use it to fund bigger purchases and build credit over time. If you have a good amount of cash on hand, you can put down up to $5,000 as a security deposit, which becomes your total credit limit.

Start your application now Back to top

Pro Tip


Pro tip: And with the low 9.99% Fixed purchase APR for the Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card, you won’t have to pay a ton in interest on your purchases.

Compare the best rewards credit cards

Card Annual Fee Minimum Deposit Required Free Monthly Credit Score
Best for building credit: Discover it® Secured $0 $200 Available
Best for no annual fee: Capital One® Secured Mastercard® $0 $49, $99 or $200 (based on creditworthiness) Available
Best for earning rewards: Discover it® Student chrome $0 None Available
Best for college students: Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® $0 None Available
Best for instant approval: Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card $49 $200 Unavailable

How do you get a credit card if you have no credit?

The credit card issuers we’ve reviewed above offer a number of options for people with little or no credit history. Starting with a beginner’s card is the way to go if you want to establish yourself as a reliable borrower. Several ways to open up your credit card options and improve your credit history”
  • You’ll need employment. You must have enough income to pay your credit card balance. Credit card applications will generally ask for your annual income.
  • Prequalify for a credit card. Some credit card issuers have online prequalification, allowing you to find a credit card that matches your credit profile. These pre-qualifications are soft credit checks, which won’t hurt your credit score or show up on your credit report.
  • Have a student credit card. Student credit cards are for college students who may not have enough income or credit history. To qualify, provide proof of your enrollment in a qualified college or university. Some student credit cards have high-interest rates and fees.
  • Access a secured credit card. Secured credit cards are perfect for people who can’t get approved for a traditional credit card. Pick one that reports to major credit bureaus with minimal fees. What distinguishes a secured credit card from an unsecured card is that a security deposit is required to establish a credit line.
  • Partner with a co-signer. If you can’t get a credit card on your own, you can ask someone with a job and good credit to apply with you. Responsible use can increase your credit score.
  • Become an authorized user. Becoming an authorized user means that someone who already has a credit card account can request to add you to their account, and order an additional physical credit card for your use. Once again, treat your finances responsibly for yourself and the authorized user.

How do you build a credit history with your first credit card?

There are several ways to build a credit history with your first credit card:
  • Use your credit card carefully. One important rule for building a strong credit history is to spend no more than 30% of your available credit line. Be mindful of your spending.
  • Pay on time. Missed or late payments are a major red flag to future lenders, not to mention they may lead to interest charges and late fees.
  • Pay your balance in full. Paying your balance in full allows you to avoid piling on debt. But paying more than the minimum payment due can also save you money in interest charges over the long term.
  • Know your credit score. When you borrow money, the lender looks at your credit history and credit score. The score measures how reliable you are about borrowing and paying back your money. The higher your score, the better chance you have of approval for a card, and the lower your interest rate. If your score is low or you have no established credit, you can start with a secured credit card to build your credit history.
  • Check your credit report once a year. Three major credit bureaus keep track of your credit history: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can access a free report from each of them once a year to help you monitor your credit. To get your free credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 877.322.8228. Check your report to ensure there are no mistakes, which hurt your credit score.
  • Monitor your account. It’s essential to keep track of your credit card purchases. You can do this easily online or via your card’s app. You can also get automatic alerts from some issuers.
  • Protect yourself from fraud. If you spot suspicious activity in your account, review your bank’s privacy and security policies. You’ll find out how to receive protection in case your credit card number is stolen. Learn about protecting yourself from fraud and what to do if this happens. Never give out your credit card number over the phone unless you initiate the call, memorize your passwords/PIN numbers, keep those numbers in a secure location and check your account often to look for unusual activity.

What is a good credit score?

A credit score of 700 or above is generally good. A score of 800 or higher is excellent. Most credit scores range from 600 to 750. High scores show that you’re making appropriate credit decisions and give creditors confidence that you will pay your debts on time.

How do you quickly raise your credit score?

The higher your credit score, the lower the interest you’ll have to pay on loans, and the more you’ll be eligible for premium credit cards that offer sign up bonuses and other perks. Here’s how to do it:
  • Set up automatic payments so that you’ll pay the minimum on time every month.
  • Pay down debt. The lower your percentage of debt utilization is, the higher your credit score.
  • Figure out which debt has the highest interest rate and work to pay that off first.
  • Don’t close out cards you aren’t using. That will increase your debt utilization ratio and potentially lower your score.
  • Don’t apply for new credit. Every hard inquiry lowers your FICO score.

Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view a list of partners, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser's page for terms & conditions.