Best for accessing higher credit line

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate

N/A

Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
26.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Best secured card for flat-rate rewards

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5% Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, everywhere
Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
26.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Best secured card with rewards

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 2% Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • 1% Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Intro offer
Cashback Match™ 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
23.24% Variable
Recommended credit
No Credit History 
Apply now
On Petal's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 1.5% Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
  • 1% 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.
Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
13.24%-27.24% (Variable)
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Best for rotating cash back bonus categories

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • 1% Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Intro offer
Cashback Match™ 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
13.24% - 22.24% Variable
Recommended credit
No Credit History 
Apply now
On Self's secure site
Rewards rate

N/A

Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$25
Regular APR
24.24% (Variable)
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Best for local cash back offers

Apply now
On Petal's secure site
Rewards rate

N/A

Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
20.24%-29.74% (Variable)
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Best for no required credit check

Apply now
On Capital Bank's secure site
Rewards rate

N/A

Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$35
Regular APR
17.64% (variable)
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Best overall student card

Apply now
On Deserve's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 1% Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard
Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
19.49% Variable
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Best for no monthly maintenance fee

Apply now
On Citi's secure site
Rewards rate

N/A

Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
23.24% (Variable)
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Compare Bankrate’s top credit cards for no credit history

Card name Best for Bankrate review score
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card Accessing higher credit line 4.2 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards credit card Secured card for flat-rate rewards 3.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Secured Credit Card Secured card with rewards 5 / 5
(Read full card review)
Petal 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa Credit Card Card with credit-building app 4.5 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Student Cash Back Rotating cash back bonus categories 4.1 / 5
(Read full card review)
Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card Building credit with savings 3.1 / 5
(Read full card review)
Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card Local cash back offers 4.4/ 5
(Read full card review)
OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card No required credit check 3.1 / 5
(Read full card review)
Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students Overall student card 2.7 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Secured Mastercard No monthly maintenance fee 3.0 / 5
(Read full card review)

A closer look at top credit cards for no credit history

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card: Best for accessing a higher credit line

  • What we love about the Capital One Platinum Secured: This card is one of the only secured options that may reward you with a credit limit that’s higher than your initial deposit. You also have the option to pay the security deposit in installments over a 35-day period.
  • Who this card is good for: Single-focus credit builders who aren’t set on earning rewards.
  • Alternatives: The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is another low-cost and no fuss option for anyone who is set on building credit first before needing the added incentive of earning rewards.

Read our Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card Review.
Jump back to offer details.

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best secured card for flat-rate rewards

  • What we love about the Capital One Quicksilver Secured: You can earn back your security deposit in the form of a statement credit once you demonstrate a history of responsible credit use.
  • Who this card is good for: Responsible credit starters who know how to balance building credit and earning rewards.
  • Alternatives: The Discover it Secured Credit Card is the next best option when it comes to secured cards that offer valuable rewards rates. If you’re looking for ways to build credit outside of getting a credit card, you can tap into tools like UltraFICO and Experian Boost to build credit by other means outside of credit cards.

Read our Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards credit card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Discover it Secured Credit Card: Best secured card with rewards

  • What we love about the Discover it Secured: Discover will automatically match all of the cash back that you earned at the end of your first year—a great bargain for a starter credit card.
  • Who this card is good for: Foodies, roadtrippers and credit builders alike who want to earn rewards but may not have the credit requirements for a more lucrative rewards card in key categories.
  • Alternatives: If you don’t mind keeping up with rotating categories and enrollment dates, the Discover it® Student Cash Back has the same welcome offer program and higher rewards rates in specified bonus categories.

Read our Discover it® Secured Credit Card Review.
Jump back to offer details.

Petal 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa Credit Card: Best card with a credit-building app

  • What we love about the Petal 2: The card’s cash back program rewards responsibility by increasing the rate from 1 percent on eligible purchases to up to 1.5 percent on eligible purchases after you make 12 on-time monthly payments.
  • Who this card is good for: Tech savvy consumers with no credit history, particularly people who make mobile apps a big part of their daily lives.
  • Alternatives: The Capital One Platinum Secured card keeps up with the Petal 2’s affordability, given that it has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. The tradeoff is that the Capital One Secured doesn’t have a rewards program. If you’re still after rewards the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards card offers low maintenance flat-rate rewards.

Read our Petal 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa Credit Card Review.
Jump back to offer details.

Discover it Student Cash Back: Best for rotating cash back bonus categories

  • What we love about the Discover it Student Cash Back: You can cast a wide net on your earning opportunities by keeping up with rotating bonus categories.
  • Who this card is good for: The newbie credit builder who doesn’t mind delving into some strategizing to maximize rewards earnings.
  • Alternatives: The Discover it® Student chrome offers rewards on a couple of popular spending categories like dining and gas, but skips out on the hassle of tracking and enrolling in bonus categories each quarter.

Read our Discover it Student Cash Back review.
Jump back to offer details.

Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card: Best for building credit with savings

  • What we love about the Self-Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card: The combination of a savings account and a secured credit card, especially because neither requires a hard inquiry on your credit report.
  • Who this card is good for: Enthusiastic credit builders who want to build savings while building credit or who want a headstart on establishing a credit mix.
  • Alternatives: A more straightforward card option with rewards is the Discover it Secured Credit Card. A standard $200 security deposit will get you immediate access to a credit line and rewards on spending in a few popular categories.

Read our Self — Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card: Best for local cash back offers

  • What we love about the Petal 1: Petal 1 will calculate your credit limit and interest rate by using your banking history, which means that your credit history (or lack thereof) isn’t as important.
  • Who this card is good for: Aspiring credit-builders who want to earn some cash rewards and avoid an annual fee.
  • Alternatives: The Petal Rewards program offers occasional cash back points from certain merchants, but if you’re after more consistent rewards, the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card still has no annual fee and offers one of the best reward rates for secured credit cards.

Read our Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card Review.
Jump back to offer details.

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card: Best for no required credit check

  • What we love about the OpenSky Secured: You can feasibly be approved for this card while skipping a credit check altogether.
  • Who this card is good for: Credit builders looking for ownership over their credit line. Whatever you put down for your security deposit will become your credit limit and that limit can range from $200 to up to $3,000.
  • Alternatives: This card has an added annual fee on top of the required security deposit, but the lack of a credit check can be fairly enticing. The Capital One Platinum Secured card has no annual fee and the minimum security deposit you put down can be as low as $49, so it could be a more cost effective alternative.

Read our OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card Review.
Jump back to offer details.

Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students: Best overall student card

  • What we love about the Deserve EDU Mastercard: The accessibility of the card for international students, along with U.S.-born students. You are not required to submit a social security number (SSN) with your card application, a rare perk of this credit card.
  • Who this card is good for: U.S. and international students who want to earn cash back.
  • Alternatives: The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is another low-maintenance rewards card for students that still is up for grabs for international students. This card application will accept either an SSN or an individual taxpayer identification number.

Read our Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students Review.
Jump back to offer details.

Citi Secured Mastercard: Best for no monthly maintenance fee

  • What we love about the Citi Secured: The access to exclusive deals and other perks through Citi Entertainment.
  • Who this card is good for: Credit newcomers looking for a minimal-fee route to good credit.
  • Alternatives: If you want to pair low costs and credit-building with some opportunity to earn rewards, the Petal 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa credit card is a low-cost unsecured option with a competitive rewards rate.

Read our Citi Secured Mastercard review.
Jump back to offer details.


Why building credit history is important

Your credit history, often called your credit report, is a record of your performance as a borrower and user of credit. A positive credit history with little to no delinquencies or late payments indicates that you’re a reliable and financially responsible debtor.

Improving your credit score can help when:

  • Getting a better interest rate when applying for a loan or credit card
  • Upgrading a credit card
  • Refinancing a mortgage for a lower rate
  • Getting the better insurance rates
  • Requesting higher credit limits

Most credit card issuers report your spending habits and payment history to one of three major credit reporting agencies. These agencies compile this information with reports from other lenders, such as your mortgage company, or small loan lender to create your overall credit report and credit score.

Used correctly, a credit card is one of the ways you can start building a solid credit foundation.

Who should get a credit card for no credit history?

Still unsure on the right card type for you? Check out our Credit Card Spender Type Tool where you can get personalized credit card recommendations based on your credit score, spending habits and daily needs.

How to establish credit with a credit card

Your credit report is created when you open your first credit account, whether it’s a credit card, auto loan or some other type of credit. Building a strong credit history takes both time and good financial habits. Keep these guidelines in mind as you establish your credit history:

  1. Check your credit report before getting started. Taking a look at your credit report will give you an idea of where you stand. Even if you haven’t begun your journey yet, errors can appear on your credit report, so it’s best to check ahead of time to be sure you’re not wrongfully disadvantaged. Upon request, each of the three major credit bureaus provide a free copy of your credit report once a year.
  2. Apply for a credit card. Opening a credit card account is a major step on the road to building credit history, so take time to find the right credit card. Evaluate the key features, credit score requirements, any fees and make sure the card reports to the credit bureaus, as they are the agencies that create your credit report. Pay particular attention to the annual percentage rate (APR), which determines how much interest you pay for carrying a balance.
  3. Practice good spending habits. Overspending with your card could affect your credit utilization, which is a ratio of how much credit you use versus how much you have available. In general, it’s best to keep this under 30 percent.
  4. Pay your credit card bill on time and in full. Making it clear that you can consistently pay on time and in full will do wonders for your credit score. If you don’t pay your balance in full each month, you may be subject to added interest, which applies to any unpaid charges carried over from one billing cycle to the next. Your interest rate may also increase significantly if you miss even one payment.
  5. Keep the credit card account open. Length of credit history accounts for 15 percent of your credit score and is an average age of all your credit accounts. Even if you cancel a credit card with your account in good standing, the effect on someone with a limited credit history is pronounced. When you close a credit card, it also affects your credit utilization ratio.
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Bankrate Insight
Although it’s generally a good idea to keep credit card accounts open while building credit, you may ultimately want to close an account if you have too many cards to manage responsibly or you are tempted to overspend. Consider closing the card (or cards) you’ve had for the least amount of time as older accounts do your credit score more good.

Tips on applying for your first credit card

Your first-ever credit card application doesn’t have to be intimidating. Consider a few guidelines that can help you prepare:

Requirements to get a credit card

  • You must be at least 18 years old. You cannot be approved for your own credit card as a minor. Even at 18 to 20 years old, you have to provide proof of independent income or to have a parent co-sign on your application, as required by the Card Act of 2009.
  • You must have an income source or access to an income source. Credit card applications will ask for your income. If you don’t have an independent source of income, you may list that of your parent or partner, as long as you have “reasonable expectation of access” to that money, like having a shared bank account. This is an amendment to the Card Act of 2009.
  • You’ll usually need a Social Security Number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. In most traditional cases, you must provide your SSN on a credit card application. However, some issuers like Capital One and American Express may accept an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number in place of a SSN. An ITIN is a nine-digit number issued by the IRS to a tax-paying individual who lives in the U.S. and does not have a Social Security Number. Keep in mind that you may still be denied with an ITIN due to a lack of credit history within the U.S.
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Bankrate Insight
If you don’t meet all of the requirements to get a credit card, one option is to become an authorized user on a parent or guardian’s credit card. There is no age requirement to become an authorized user, and you’ll also be able to build credit.

Look for pre-qualified offers

Credit card issuers and other types of lenders can perform two kinds of credit checks when someone submits an application: a hard inquiry and a soft inquiry. A hard inquiry will temporarily lower your credit score while a soft inquiry has no effect. Pre-qualified offers don’t require a hard inquiry, so keep an eye out for pre-qualification features like CardMatch™. You can get a better idea of which cards you might qualify for without taking a short-term hit on your credit score.

Be ready to submit some information

It’s routine for the card application process to require some basic information, even if you have no credit history. The issuer will need to verify your identity, which is why you’ll be asked for details such as your full name, date of birth, Social Security Number and address.

Limit the number of applications you make

Applying for multiple cards in a short period of time could signal to lenders that you want more credit than you can responsibly handle. Also, remember that credit applications involving a hard inquiry will lower your credit score temporarily. The ding to your credit score for one inquiry is less than five points in most cases. Still, multiple inquiries could make a difference, so be selective about which cards you apply for.

How we chose the top credit cards for no credit history

Bankrate evaluates credit cards on a 5-star system that factors in attributes such as annual fees, APR, rewards value and welcome bonuses. To make our list of best credit cards for no credit history, our writers and editors pay particular attention to:

Annual fees:

Most of our recommendations have no or fairly low annual fees to add to the card’s affordability. People just starting out with a credit card may want to skip the hassle of planning to offset an annual fee.

Credit requirements:

Credit cards for no credit history do not usually have strenuous credit requirements, making it easier to be approved for them.

Rewards:

Many credit cards for no credit history don’t offer rewards and focus on credit building, but some that do offer modest rewards are highlighted on this page.

Target audience:

Credit cards for no credit history are often geared toward students and other credit newbies, so a lot of the options listed are student cards and secured credit cards.


Have more questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.

Frequently asked questions about credit cards for no credit history

about the author
Former Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, personal loans, mortgages and other personal finance products since 2017. Before joining Bankrate, he was an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina.
about the editor
Mariah Ackary is a personal finance writer who specializes in small businesses and credit. Mariah is a lifelong writer, but joined the Bankrate team in 2019, excited by the opportunity to help people make good financial decisions. Send your questions to mackary@bankrate.com

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.