Easiest credit cards to get in 2020

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Getting a credit card isn’t always easy. A lot of credit cards are designed for people with good or excellent credit — which means that if you’re new to credit, or if you have less-than-stellar credit, you might have trouble getting approved.

That said, there are several credit cards designed specifically for people with no credit, people with poor credit and people who are just beginning their credit journey. Whether you’re hoping to open your first credit card or rebuild your credit after a bankruptcy, there are many quality credit options available to you.

Here are Bankrate’s top picks for easy credit cards to get in 2020:

Best for no credit history

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • 26.99% variable APR
  • Automatic access to a higher credit limit in as little as 6 months

Why it’s the best card for people with no credit history

If you are new to credit or haven’t yet built a credit history, the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is an excellent starter card. The Platinum Credit Card gets you access to a higher credit limit in as little as 6 months. Plus, on-time payments will help you start to build a strong credit history and credit score.

Best for poor credit

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

  • No annual fee
  • 26.99% variable APR
  • $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit required
  • $200 line of credit
  • Automatic access to a higher credit limit in as little as 6 months or increasing your security deposit up to $1,000

Why it’s the best card for people with poor credit

If you’ve made some credit mistakes in the past, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® can help you get your credit back on the right track. This card requires a refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200, depending on your credit score, and you have 35 days to make the deposit in full. You’ll receive a $200 line of credit to begin with, and you will  have automatic access to a higher credit limit in as little as 6 months. You can also boost your line of credit by increasing your security deposit up to $1,000 within 35 days of approval.

Learn more: Best Credit One Bank credit cards

Best for cash back rewards

Discover it® Secured

  • No annual fee
  • 24.49% variable APR
  • 10.99% balance transfer APR for 6 months
  • Refundable security deposit of at least $200 and up to $2,500 required; credit limit matches security deposit
  • Earn 2% cash back on gas stations and restaurants for up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Discover’s Cashback Match will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year as a cardholder

Why it’s the best card for cash back rewards

If you’d like to earn rewards while you build your credit, consider the Discover it® Secured card. This card requires a refundable deposit of at least $200, and offers a credit limit to match your deposit. Once you start making purchases against that credit limit, you’ll earn 2% cash back on gas stations and restaurants for up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter and 1% cash back on all other purchases. You’ll also get access to Discover’s famous Cashback Match program, in which Discover will match all the cash back you earn during your first year as a cardholder — and if you’ve been using your card responsibly during that first year, you’ll probably see an improvement to both your credit score and your credit history.

Best for bankruptcy forgiveness

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

  • Up to $99 annual fee
  • 24.90% fixed APR

Why it’s the best card for bankruptcy forgiveness

If you have a bankruptcy on file, you might find it hard to get accepted for a credit card. The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® accepts people with bankruptcies, which makes it a good option if you’re trying to get your credit back on track. Depending on your credit score, you might have to pay an annual fee of $75 the first year and $99 every subsequent year — but if you’re hoping to rebuild your credit after a bankruptcy, those annual fees might be worth it.

Best for students building credit

Discover it® Student chrome

  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR for 6 months on purchases, then 14.49% – 23.49% variable APR
  • 10.99% balance transfer APR for 6 months
  • Earn 2% cash back on gas stations and restaurants for up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $20 statement credit every year your GPA is 3.0 or higher, for up to the next five years
  • Discover’s Cashback Match will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year as a cardholder

Why it’s the best card for students building credit

The Discover it® Student chrome card comes with a lot of perks for students who want to establish a strong credit history. You’ll earn 2% cash back on gas stations and restaurants for up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter and 1% cash back on all other purchases. You’ll also earn a $20 statement credit every year your GPA is 3.0 or higher, for the first five years as a cardholder — which means you can get rewarded for going to your favorite cafe to study and get rewarded again for your good grades. You’ll also get access to Discover’s Cashback Match, which matches all of the cash you earn during your first year as a cardholder.

How to choose the best card for you

Check your credit history and credit score

If you want to take out a new credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit score first. Banks and credit card companies usually use credit scores as a way to determine card eligibility, and knowing whether your credit score is poor, fair, good or excellent will help you decide which cards to apply for. It’s also a good idea to check your credit report to make sure there aren’t any errors that might be preventing you from getting the best possible credit score. If you do find errors on your credit report, they are easy to dispute and often resolve very quickly.

Ask yourself what kind of credit card you want

Before you apply for any new credit card, it’s important to ask yourself what kind of credit card you want. Are you hoping to rebuild credit after bankruptcy? Earn cash back rewards? Use a secured credit card to boost your credit score? Find a credit card that is designed for students? The more you know about different types of credit cards, the better you’ll be able to decide which card is right for you.

Choose a card that will help you build your credit

While many credit cards come with rewards and perks, from cash back on purchases to statement credits for good grades, the real reason to take out a new line of credit is so you can continue to build and improve your credit history. Depending on your current credit score, that might mean opting for a credit card for people with fair credit instead of trying to apply for one of those high-rewards travel credit cards that are generally only available to people with good or excellent credit. Find a card that’ll help you get to the next level, credit-wise — and then make sure to use that card responsibly.

Frequently asked questions about easy-to-get credit cards

What is the easiest credit card to get approved for?

While there isn’t one single credit card that’s easiest to get approved for, there are many credit cards designed for people who are either new to credit or hoping to rebuild their credit. These cards tend to have less stringent approval requirements than credit cards designed for people who have already established an excellent credit score.

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

If you want a credit card but don’t have a credit history, you have a few options. If you are a student, you might want to look into student credit cards. If you have a checking or savings account with a local bank, visit your bank branch and ask to be considered for a credit card; many banks are happy to give starter credit cards to customers in good standing. If you are willing to put down a small deposit in exchange for a line of credit, you could take out a secured credit card.

What is a secured credit card?

A secured credit card lets you secure a line of credit by putting down a deposit of your own money. In many cases, the amount of credit you receive is equal to your deposit; if you put down $500, you receive $500 in credit. If you fail to pay off your line of credit, the lender will claim your deposit as collateral. However, if you use your line of credit responsibly over a long enough period of time (generally between six months and a year), the lender will return your deposit and raise your credit limit.

How do you build credit?

There are a number of steps you can take to build your credit score. Start by making on-time payments on all of your credit accounts, whether you have credit cards, a mortgage or student loans. Then work on reducing any outstanding balances on your credit cards. Remember: the less debt you carry on your credit cards, the higher your credit score can go.

As your credit continues to grow, consider taking out another credit card or using a balance transfer credit card to pay down existing credit card debt. Both of these methods should decrease your credit utilization ratio (the amount of credit you have vs. the amount of debt you’re carrying), which will increase your credit score.

Lastly, don’t forget about the power of time. The length of time you’ve successfully managed your open credit accounts makes up 15 percent of your credit score, so a longer credit history helps you build a better credit score. If you have derogatory marks on your credit report, such as a previous bankruptcy, those marks should disappear from your credit report in roughly 7 to 10 years.

How do you know when you’ll be eligible for more competitive credit cards?

If you want to know when you’ll be eligible to apply for a top rewards credit card, check your credit score regularly. Your bank or credit card company may provide you with an easy way of tracking your credit score, and Bankrate also offers a free credit score tool.

As your credit score continues to grow, watch for it to pass a few key thresholds. Once your credit score hits 670, you’ll officially have good credit and can begin applying for more competitive credit cards. If your score passes 740, your credit will be considered very good; after 800, you’ll have excellent credit. You can still get many of the best credit cards with a good credit score, but as your credit improves you might be offered higher credit limits or better interest rates — so don’t stop building your credit just because your score is in the high 600s.