Best Credit Cards for No Credit of July 2020

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The best credit cards for no credit help people without a credit history (those who have never had a credit card or loan) build their profile with as little cost as possible. When you have no credit, it can be tricky to find an appealing credit card that you qualify for, so we’ve simplified the process for you. Our favorites have fewer fees or lower interest costs than competitors and may even offer rewards.

Best Credit Cards for No Credit

Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠

Best Overall

,

Best for Students

Our Rating Among Cards for New Credit Users
4.8
Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.15% - 21.15% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 6 Months
Rewards Earning Rate 3% cash rewards earned for up to $2,500 spent on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months. 1% cash rewards for each $1 spent on virtually all other purchases with your card.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    This card gives those new to credit a taste of many appealing credit card features: an introductory 0% APR offer on purchases and balance transfers, no annual fee, and rewards. It’s not common for cards like this to give rewards on everyday purchases, so it’s our pick for best student card, too. Avoiding card debt is crucial when building credit and earning rewards, but if you need to carry a balance short-term, this card charges reasonable interest rates. Note that you must have an existing account with Wells Fargo to apply.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • No annual fee
    • Offers rewards on everyday purchases, unlike many other student cards
    • 0% APR promotional offers that are rare for a student card

    Cons

    • Must have a Wells Fargo account to apply
    • Rewards earning rate drops after six months
    • Foreign transaction fee means using this card overseas costs extra
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Build credit history while you’re in college.
    • 3% cash rewards earned for up to $2,500 spent on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months. Enjoy 1% cash rewards for other purchases.
    • Access your FICO Credit Score.
    • Existing Wells Fargo relationship needed to apply online.

Discover it® Secured

Best Secured Card

,

Best for Earning Rewards

Our Rating Among Cards for New Credit Users
4.3
Discover it® Secured
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Pay deposit in installments No
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    A secured card (one that requires a deposit) is often your best option when you have no credit, and this is our favorite. It’s one of the few secured cards with rewards: 2% cash back on gas and restaurant purchases up to $1,000 per quarter, and unlimited 1% cash back on everything else. Discover will match all your cash back from your first year, too. The minimum security deposit of $200 is lower than some competitors, and if you make regular on-time payments, Discover may upgrade your card to an unsecured version and return your deposit.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Ability to earn cash-back rewards while building credit
    • Responsible use can lead to automatic unsecured card upgrade
    • No foreign transaction fee
    • Cash-back match as a first year bonus

    Cons

    • Low cap on highest rewards earning rate
    • Mediocre maximum credit limit compared to other secured cards
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • No annual fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
    • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
    • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if Discover can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
    • Get 100% U.S.-based customer service and get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO Credit Score.

Apple Card

Best for Avoiding Fees

,

Best Unsecured

Our Rating Among Cards for New Credit Users
4.8
Apple Card
Current Offer

Get a new Apple Card and enjoy $50 the first time you use it to pay for an Apple Service for a limited time.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Fair - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 10.99% - 21.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3% cash back at Apple and select Apple pay partners, 2% on other Apple pay purchases, and 1% on everything else.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    This co-branded card doesn’t charge an annual fee, late payment fee, or any other of the tricky fees you might encounter with cards aimed at people new to credit. Although it's recommended that you have a credit score of at least 600 when you apply, you may still be considered for the card if you have no credit history, which is why it's also our pick for best unsecured card. Whenever you use Apple Pay, you’ll get 2% cash back, and the card offers tools that can teach you how your usage impacts your credit history.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Good rewards on Apple and partner-retailer purchases
    • Ability to earn more when using this card with Apple Pay
    • Interactive account tools offer visual ways to learn about credit
    • Lowest offered APR is good for a rewards card
    • No annual fee

    Cons

    • Mediocre rewards rate on non-Apple and non-Apple-Pay purchases
    • Non-iPhone users will miss out on highest rewards earning rate
    • Few extra benefits (e.g. bonus or free credit score)
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Apply and start using in minutes. Just open the Wallet app and tapthe plus icon.
    • Get 2% Daily Cash back every time you pay with your iPhone or Apple Watch.
    • See each purchase go through right away. No waiting. No wondering.
    • No fees. Period.

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Best for Learning About Credit

Our Rating Among Cards for New Credit Users
3.8
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Fair - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 26.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases. 0.25% Cash Back bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    This student card can help you get comfortable using a credit card—and even earn rewards—without paying the deposit required for a secured card. And you don’t have to be a student to qualify. Every month you pay your bill on time, Capital One will give you a slightly higher rewards rate (1.25% cash back instead of 1%). Plus, after making your first five monthly payments on time, you’re eligible for a higher line of credit. Capital One’s CreditWise education tool will help you track growth in your credit score over time, too.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Higher rewards rate and credit limit available if you make on-time payments
    • Few fees, which helps keep costs low
    • Rewards that are easy to earn and redeem

    Cons

    • No bonus or 0% introductory APR offer for new cardholders
    • High APR if you carry a balance
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month.
    • $0 annual fee.
    • With Credit Steps your account will be reviewed for a credit limit increase after making your first 6 monthly payments on time.
    • Enjoy unlimited access to your credit score and tools to help you monitor your credit profile with CreditWise.

Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card

Best With a Low APR

Our Rating Among Cards for New Credit Users
4.6
Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 9.99% fixed
Annual Fee $49
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Allows upgrade to unsecured card No
Pay deposit in installments No
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    When you’re new to credit, most cards will charge an arm and a leg if you carry a balance month-to-month, but not this one. The Green Dot primor Visa Gold Secured card has the lowest APR of any secured card we’ve reviewed, plus it’s a fixed rate, which means it won’t fluctuate with the market like most other card rates. We don’t recommend carrying a balance, but if you need to, the low APR on this card will help you put more of your payment toward the principal.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Very low APR for a secured card
    • No credit check required when you apply
    • Pretty high credit limit (as long you supply the matching security deposit)

    Cons

    • High annual fee
    • Miscellaneous fees you’re less likely to find among competitors, including for replacement cards
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Whether you put down $200 or $5,000, your credit limit is equal to the amount of the refundable security deposit.
    • Not a prepaid or debit card — spend within your credit limit, then pay your balance monthly, just like a regular credit card. Use everywhere Visa is accepted in the U.S.
    • Relax, good credit or a bank account is not needed to get a card. And, since there’s no credit check, there’s no effect on your credit when you apply.
    • Be sure to make on-time payments and keep your card balance low. Your payment and usage history gets reported to the three major credit bureaus, which can help you build a positive credit file over time.
Find Your Credit Card Match When it's your goal to build credit, we believe it's important to seek out credit cards with low fees and features that help you improve your credit score, but we know you might have different priorities. See what suits you best.
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How Can I Get a Credit Card If I Have No Credit History?

Finding cards intended for credit newbies is the key. Because usually, one of the first things credit card companies do when you apply for a card is to check your credit score and credit report to see if you have a track record of handling credit responsibly.

If you’ve never had a loan or credit card, you may not have a credit report. And since credit scores are based on the data in credit reports, you won’t have one of those, either. But in order to build your credit, you need to get credit.

Fortunately, there is a way around this catch-22. There are credit cards designed specifically for people with no credit. As long as you are at least 18 years old and have enough income to afford a monthly payment, you have options.

Tip

Try to order your free credit report to make sure you really don’t have a credit history or score. Even if you’ve never had a credit card before, if you have student loans or are an authorized user on someone else's credit card, you may have at least some credit history.

What Are My Credit Card Options If I Have No Credit?

  • Secured card: These cards have low (or no) credit score requirements, but do require a deposit to cover the bank if you stop making payments. The amount you deposit typically becomes your credit limit, and it’s refundable when you upgrade to an unsecured card or close the account in good standing. Secured cards often charge extra fees, but they can be used just like “regular” cards. 
  • Store card: These are easy to get because they are often only accepted by the branded store or a small retailer network, and they charge high interest rates. New cardholders typically get a first-purchase discount or special financing offer. Many store cards also let you earn rewards on an ongoing basis, but that can encourage unnecessary spending, so apply with caution. 
  • Student card: These cards, designed for college students, don’t require a deposit and may have lower interest rates than secured cards. Student cards are the most similar to traditional cards, and many even offer rewards or 0% interest promotions. 

What Should You Look For in Your First Card?

Even though your options are limited, be selective about the quality of your first credit card. Our recommendations above are a great place to start, and then pay attention to the following:

  • Credit bureau reporting: Before you apply for a card, make sure that the card company will report your account information to the major credit bureaus—the companies that create your credit reports. That’s crucial to building credit. Most cards do report to the credit bureaus, but always double-check. If it doesn’t say on the issuer’s website, call their customer service to ask. 
  • APR: Ideally, the interest rate—also called annual percentage rate, or APR—of your first card won’t matter because you’ll pay off the balance each month to avoid interest charges. However, you should still seek a card with a lower APR in case you do ever run a balance. 
  • Fees: Look for cards that don’t have tons of fees. Secured cards, in particular, are known to add extra charges such as monthly maintenance fees, an application fee, and other fees, so watch out for those. Try to spot cards without annual fees or cards that waive the late fee the first time you miss a due date. 
  • Credit limit: A larger credit limit will make it easier to use the card often without eating up all your available credit. A high credit limit also helps you to keep your credit utilization rate low. That’s the ratio of your credit card balances to your available credit, and a low rate is important for your credit score.
  • Credit education features: Many cards offer free credit scores, but also look for other resources, like credit report monitoring and financial advice. 
  • Rewards: You aren’t eligible for the most rewarding cards on the market, but you can still find valuable offers. However, if earning rewards may encourage overspending, pass on this feature. 

Once you've decided what you're looking for, decide which card to apply for. Here's another rundown of our top picks for credit cards when you have no credit history:

Best Credit Cards for No Credit
Credit Card Category Annual Fee
Wells Fargo Cash Back College Best Overall $0
Discover it Secured Best Secured Card $0
Apple Card Best for Avoiding Fees $0
Journey Student Rewards from Capital One Best for Learning About Credit $0
Green Dot primor Visa Gold Secured Credit Card Best With a Low APR

 

$49
Wells Fargo Cash Back College Best for Students $0
Discover it Secured Best for Earning Rewards $0
Apple Card Best Unsecured $0

How Do You Apply for a Credit Card?

You can apply for most credit cards online. The applications are straightforward. Besides basic personal information, you’ll need your Social Security number, employment, income, banking, and possibly housing information. For more information, check out our guide to applying for a credit card.

Important

Don’t apply for multiple credit cards at once. That can make you look desperate to lenders. Instead, focus on the best cards you really can qualify for, especially those that offer pre-approval.

How Do You Build Credit?

Once you open your credit card, you’ll have activity that can go into your credit report. Then, pay your bill on time, every single time. Pay off your balance each month in full to keep your credit utilization ratio low. Then be patient. You won’t earn a 700+ credit score just by opening a credit card. Follow these steps and your credit will rise over the months and years to come.

For more information, check out our guide to building credit from scratch

Methodology

We collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances. We do this because it's our mission to give you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews.

Our reviews are always impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive.

About This List

We start by filtering our database of more than 200 cards for products that accept applicants with no credit, bad credit, or fair credit (300-579 or 580-669 on the FICO 8 scale of 300 to 850.)

What We Score

Annual fee, regular APR, and rewards are the most important things people consider when choosing a credit card, so we weigh those features heavily. But for this list of cards, we look closely at features like having access to a free credit score and the potential to upgrade from a secured card to an unsecured card. For full details on how we evaluate credit card attributes, check out our full methodology.