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Best credit cards for no credit history in February 2023

Updated January 31, 2023

Credit card issuers offer credit cards to consumers who have no credit history to help people build credit from scratch. By using a credit card responsibly, making on-time payments and limiting how much available credit you use, you can build a positive credit history and create a positive credit score in due time. These actions can open the door to the financial products you need, with better rates and terms. Here’s how we compared the best offers from our credit card partners to help you find the best credit card for no credit history.

Image of Discover it® Student Cash Back

Best for rotating cash back bonus categories

Discover it® Student Cash Back

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On Discover's secure site
Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
4.3 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

Cashback Match™
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

17.24% - 26.24% Variable APR

Recommended credit

No Credit History
Info
Image of Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Apply now Lock
On Discover's secure site
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
5.0 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

Cashback Match™
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

27.24% Variable APR

Recommended credit

No Credit History
Info
Image of Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
Credit Card Best Editor's Pick

Best for accessing higher credit line

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Apply now Lock
On Capital One's secure site
Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5
4.2 Bankrate review
Info

Intro offer

N/A

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

29.74% (Variable)

Recommended credit

No Credit History
Info
Image of Self - Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit Card
Apply now Lock
On Self's secure site
Rating: 3.1 stars out of 5
3.1 Bankrate review
Info

Intro offer

N/A

Annual fee

$25

Regular APR

26.99% (Variable)

Recommended credit

No Credit History
Info
Image of Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best secured card for flat-rate rewards

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply now Lock
On Capital One's secure site
Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5
3.8 Bankrate review
Info

Intro offer

N/A

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

29.74% (Variable)

Recommended credit

No Credit History
Info
Image of OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Apply now Lock
On Capital Bank's secure site
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
3.0 Bankrate review
Info

Intro offer

N/A

Annual fee

$35

Regular APR

21.64% (variable)

Recommended credit

No Credit History
Info

Compare Bankrate's top credit cards for no credit history

Card name Best for Bankrate review score
Discover it Student Cash Back Rotating cash back bonus categories 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Secured Credit Card Secured card with rewards 5.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card Accessing higher credit line 4.2 / 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)
Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards credit card Flat-rate rewards 3.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card No credit check 3.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Secured Mastercard No monthly maintenance fee 3.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students International students 2.5 / 5
(Read full card review)

A closer look at our top credit cards for no credit history

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

  • What we love about the Discover it Student Cash Back: Discover is one of the few issuers to offer an intro APR offer for students with little-to-no credit history. Plus, rotating bonus categories give you a chance to earn rewards at a high rate in a variety of categories throughout the year (quarterly activation required).
  • Who this card is good for: Students who want to take advantage of an introductory APR on new purchases to chip away at expenses over time (0 percent APR for six months upon account opening, then 17.24 percent to 26.24 percent variable.
  • 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.

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.
  • Alternatives: If you don’t mind keeping up with rotating categories and enrollment dates (and you’re a student), 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.

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: People focusing solely on building credit 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.

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.

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

  • What we love about the Capital One Quicksilver Secured: This card is one of only a handful of secured cards that earns rewards and offers cardholders the chance to graduate to an unsecured credit card with responsible use.
  • Who this card is good for: Credit-builders interested in upgrading to a Capital One rewards card after they’ve improved their credit score. The card is also a better fit for users who can pay their balance in full each month due to the card’s high variable APR.
  • Alternatives: The Merrick Bank Secured Credit Card won’t earn rewards, but it offers the same low APR to all qualifying cardholders, regardless of credit history. If you aren’t able to pay your balances in full each month, having a low APR is much more important than earning rewards. Or, 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.

Read our Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards 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 be approved for this card while skipping a credit check altogether. You don’t even need a bank account to apply. Plus, the card’s 21.64 percent variable APR rate is one of the lowest available on a card available with no credit history.
  • Who this card is good for: Credit-builders with negative information on their credit report could have an easier time qualifying for this card than other credit-builder cards. And if you can’t pay your balance in full every month, a low-interest credit card like the OpenSky card could help you save money.
  • 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.

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.
 

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 and 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.

What is credit history and why is it important?

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

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, approximately 26 million Americans are credit invisible, meaning they have no credit history with any of the three major credit bureaus. Without a documented credit history, lenders have no record of your ability to pay back debt.

If someone has no credit history, they will likely have trouble getting approved for loans and credit cards. Without access to traditional loans, people with no credit are more likely to seek out alternative options and may fall prey to predatory lending practices, such as payday loans, which can come with sky-high interest rates that keep people stuck in a cycle of debt.

Used responsibly, a credit card can help you build credit when you have no credit history.

What you need to get a credit card when you have no credit history

Accessing a credit card without a credit history is not impossible, though there are certain requirements you’ll have to meet. Make sure you check a few boxes below and you can be on your way to establishing a credit history in no time.

These are the requirements to apply and be eligible for 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 annual 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 factor comes from a final rule that affects the interpretation of the Card of 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 may accept an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) 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 for a credit card if you have no credit, despite also having an ITIN.

There may be a few other criteria you have to meet depending on the type of credit card for no credit history you apply for. Student credit cards often require you to show proof of enrollment while secured credit cards require applicants to put down a deposit as collateral in exchange for access to a credit line.

Pros and cons of credit cards for no credit

Pros

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    Easier approval: Credit cards for no credit are designed with more relaxed application requirements than their good credit counterparts.

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    Built-in credit tools: Many credit card issuers, such as Discover, offer free credit score snapshots that can help cardholders monitor and track their credit scores.

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    Launchpad for credit building: Since credit cards for no credit history can be easier to get approved for and many of them report credit activity to the three credit bureaus, a card for no credit history could be one of the best starting points for building credit from scratch.

Cons

  • Lower credit limits: You typically won’t find credit limits over $3,000 with credit cards for people with no credit history, which can make it difficult to keep your credit utilization ratio in check.

  • Higher APRs: Secured credit cards and credit cards for bad or no credit tend to have higher APRs than other cards, so carrying a balance is more costly.

  • Little to no introductory offers: You’ll be hard-pressed to find 0 percent APR offers on balance transfers or purchases with cards for no credit history, which are abundant on cards for good or excellent credit.

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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.

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

You initiate the creation of your credit report 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 startedReading 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 your credit usage 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. The 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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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 no longer use it and it carries too many fees or requires a security deposit that you want back. Consider closing the card (or cards) you’ve had for the shortest amount of time over older accounts.

Credit-building alternatives to credit cards

Credit cards can be excellent credit-building tools when used correctly. They offer flexibility and protections that debit cards just can’t match (some even reward you for using them). But if you don’t want a credit card or are having a hard time qualifying for one, it is entirely possible to build your credit without using a credit card.

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:

Look for pre-approval 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. Both of these inquiries impact your score differently. 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. Before you apply for a card, make sure you have this information readily available.

Limit the number of applications

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 small, but 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:
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    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.
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    Credit requirements

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

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    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.
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    Primary demographic:
    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