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 minimal credit history. The reality is, the vast majority of credit cards are geared to people with good or excellent credit, which puts people 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 valuable 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 option

  • Get pre-qualified 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 movements to the three credit bureaus, so you can use it in the short-term to build credit and boost your score over time.

Just 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.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card: Best secured card for earning rewards

  • 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 cash back on all other purchases
  • Discover will match all the rewards you earn after the first year
  • No annual fee
  • 10.99 percent intro balance transfer APR for 6 months
  • 22.99 percent variable APR
  • Refundable security deposit of at least $200 and up to $2,500 required; credit limit matches security deposit

Why it’s an easy card to get in 2021

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is a secured credit card, so it is a great option for anyone that is willing to put down a cash deposit as collateral. The minimum security deposit for this card is $200, and you should note that your security deposit amount will equal your new credit limit.

This secured credit card is unique because there’s no annual fee and you get the chance to earn rewards on your spending. You also get free access to your FICO score on your monthly statements, and Discover reports your payments to the three credit bureaus (thus helping you improve your credit over time with responsible use). When you close your account in good standing with a zero balance, you’ll get your security deposit back.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card: Best for fair credit

  • No annual fee
  • Get pre-qualified 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 you do get the chance to build your credit score without an annual fee. Since this is one of the easiest credit cards to get, you’ll likely start off with a low credit limit. However, 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 pre-qualified 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 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 minimal credit history or a low score. This student credit card also has some major advantages, including the fact you can 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 wind up with 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 that your credit score is really low, or you might find your credit score is much higher than you thought. The only way to find out is to check, so you should take the steps to check your credit score for free.

Decide if you want to earn rewards

Where credit cards that let you earn rewards give you the chance to earn something on your spending, they can also entice you to overspend, which can leave you worse off than when you started. If you believe rewards could cause you to make poor decisions with a credit card, you might want to opt for a credit card that doesn’t tempt you with points or miles.

See if you can get pre-qualified online

If you’re worried you won’t be able to qualify for any credit card—including the easiest credit cards to qualify for—you can also check for options that let you get pre-qualified online. By getting pre-qualified, you can gauge your ability to be approved for a credit card without a hard inquiry on your credit report.

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 just building credit for the first time.

What is a secured credit card?

A secured credit card is a type of credit card that requires a cash deposit as collateral, but you get the chance to build credit when you might not be able to otherwise. Secured cards also give your cash deposit back when you close your account with a zero balance and in good standing.

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, you can start by signing up for one of the easiest cards to get. From there, you can use your card responsibly and slowly boost your credit score over time. Eventually, you may be able to upgrade or switch to a credit 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."