Easiest credit cards to get in 2021

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Getting approved for a credit card isn’t always easy, and that’s especially true if you have a low credit score or a limited credit history. Many of the best credit cards are targeted to people with good or excellent credit, which puts those who are just starting out at a significant disadvantage.

Still, some credit cards are significantly easier to get approved for—even if you have made some major credit mistakes in the past. The easiest credit cards to get can even be open to anyone, provided they’re willing to put down a cash deposit as collateral. And remember, your starter credit card doesn’t have to be forever.

Bankrate’s picks for the easiest credit cards to get in 2021

The easiest credit card to get approved for may not be ideal as a long-term card, but you will get the chance to build your credit history. Bankrate’s top picks can help you build credit so you can upgrade to a better credit card later on.

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®: Best unsecured card

  • Get prequalified online without a hard inquiry on your credit report
  • Annual fee between $0 to $99 based on your creditworthiness
  • 24.90 percent fixed APR
  • No security deposit required
  • Reports to the three credit bureaus

Why it’s an easy card to get in 2021

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is geared to people with imperfect credit, so you may be able to qualify with a low credit score or no credit history at all. This card also reports your credit activity to the three credit bureaus, so you can use it in the short term to build credit and boost your score over time.

Keep in mind that you may have to pay an annual fee depending on your creditworthiness. Also, note that the credit limit on this card is set at $300, so you will only be able to use your card for small purchases.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • Earn customizable cash back in various bonus categories
  • 23.99 percent variable APR
  • Periodic account reviews to see if you’re eligible to have your security deposit returned

Why it’s an easy card to get in 2021

Bank of America offers prequalification through its site when you log in to your account. You can determine which cards are your best matches before you apply, and it doesn’t affect your credit.

The Customized Cash Rewards is rare among secured cards in that it offers cash back. It offers rewards just like its unsecured counterpart, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card. With the secured version of this card, you can earn 3 percent cash back on category purchases of choice, including gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstore or home improvement; 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 of combined 3 and 2 percent category purchases each quarter, then 1 percent); and 1 percent on all other purchases.

If all goes well and you make your payments on time, you can eventually request an upgrade to the unsecured version of the card.

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases
  • 23.99 percent variable APR
  • Periodic account reviews to see if you’re eligible to have your security deposit returned

Why it’s an easy card to get in 2021

Just like the Bank of America Customized Cash card, you can be prequalified for this card through the issuer’s site. This card also has the same cash back rate as the unsecured Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card. You earn 1.5 percent unlimited cash back on all purchases.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card: Best for fair credit

  • No annual fee
  • Get prequalified online and without a hard inquiry on your credit report
  • 26.99 percent variable APR
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit limit in as little as six months

Why it’s an easy card to get in 2021

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card doesn’t offer any rewards, but it allows you to build your credit score without an annual fee. You’ll likely start off with a low credit limit, but Capital One promises to look at your account and consider raising your credit limit in as little as six months.

This card also lets you see if you’re prequalified online, so you can assess your ability to get this credit card before you fill out a full application.

Discover it® Student chrome: Best for students

  • Earn 2 percent cash back on gas stations and restaurants for up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter (then 1 percent back); 1 percent back on all other purchases
  • Discover will match all the rewards you earn after your first year
  • No annual fee
  • $20 statement credit every year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the first five years of card ownership
  • 0 percent intro APR for six months on purchases, then 12.99 percent to 21.99 percent variable APR
  • 10.99 percent intro APR for six months from date of the first balance transfer, then 12.99 percent to 21.99 percent variable APR

Why it’s an easy card to get in 2021

The Discover it Student chrome is marketed to students, so you may be able to qualify if you have a limited credit history or a low score. You’ll earn rewards on your spending, and Discover will match all the rewards you earn after the first year.

You’ll also qualify for a low introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for a bit of time, which can help you save on interest. Since there’s no annual fee, this card can help you build credit and save money at the same time.

How to choose the right card for you in 2021

As you compare credit cards that are easy to qualify for, there are quite a few details to keep in mind. These tips can help you pick a starter credit card that meets your needs.

Check your credit score

Before you apply for a credit card for bad credit, you should check your credit score to see where you stand. You may find it’s higher or lower than you think. Check your credit score for free as soon as possible.

Decide if you want to earn rewards

Rewards credit cards can help you save money and fund big purchases, but they can also entice you to overspend, leaving you worse off than when you started. If you think the thrill of earning rewards could get you in a financial bind, consider a credit card that doesn’t tempt you with points or miles.

Use online prequalification tools

If you’re concerned you won’t be able to qualify for any credit card, getting prequalified can offer a glint of hope. With prequalification, you can gauge your ability to be approved for a credit card without a hard inquiry on your credit report. Bankrate’s CardMatch tool can match you with offers based on a soft pull of your credit.

Frequently asked questions about easy-to-get credit cards

Before you apply for a starter credit card, you should arm yourself with information. These frequently asked questions and answers can help.

What is the easiest credit card to get approved for?

The easiest credit card to get approved for will almost always be a secured credit card. This type of credit card requires collateral, but secured cards let almost anyone build credit regardless of their credit history.

How can you get a credit card without a credit history?

If you don’t have any credit history, you’ll need to apply for a credit card for bad credit, or perhaps even a secured credit card. These cards are geared to people who have made mistakes in the past, as well as those who are building credit for the first time.

What is a secured credit card?

A secured credit card is a type of card that requires a cash deposit as collateral but also gives you a chance to build credit. Secured cards also give your cash deposit back when you close your account in good standing (and with a zero balance).

How can you upgrade to a more premium credit card?

When your credit score improves, you can call your card issuer and ask to upgrade your credit card. You can also cancel your original credit card and apply for a new one with better benefits or rewards.

The bottom line

If you want to build credit but can’t seem to get approved for the credit card you really want, try one of the cards mentioned above. From there, you can boost your credit by paying your credit card bill on time and keeping your card balance low. Eventually, you may be able to upgrade or switch to a card that offers more of the benefits you want.

The best way to know when you’re ready to upgrade is to keep an eye on your credit score. Once your FICO score hits 670, you’ll officially have “good credit” and can begin applying for more competitive credit cards. You can also wait until your FICO score is “very good,” or any score over 740. At that point, you will have a better shot at getting approved for the best cash back credit cards and rewards credit cards on the market today.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson began her career working in the funeral industry, which may make you wonder why she works in personal finance now. Yet, the funeral industry taught the author everything she needs to know about the value of one's money and time. Johnson left the mortuary business a decade ago in order to explore her passion for personal finance and travel the world, and since then, she and her husband have built a debt-free lifestyle that has them on the path to retire very wealthy in their 40s. Holly's love of budgeting also led to the creation of her debt payoff book, “Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love."
Edited by
Senior Editor, Credit Card Product News