Best Credit Cards for No Credit of December 2019

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The best credit cards for no credit help people who have never had a credit card or loan build their credit without costing a lot. When you have no credit, finding a credit card that you qualify but isn’t totally awful can be tricky, so we’ve simplified that process for you. Our favorites below feature fewer fees or lower interest costs than others, and may even offer rewards.

Best Credit Cards for No Credit

  • Wells Fargo Cash Back College
    Best Overall, Best for Students
  • Apple Card
    Best for Avoiding Fees, Best Unsecured Card
  • Green Dot primor Visa Gold Secured Credit Card
    Best With a Low APR
  • Discover it Secured
    Best Secured Card, Best for Earning Rewards, Best for Learning About Credit

Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠

Best Overall

,

Best for Students

Our Rating Among No Credit Cards
5.0
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 (%) 12.65% - 22.65% 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 offers 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 offer 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.

Apple Card

Best for Avoiding Fees

,

Best Unsecured Card

Our Rating Among No Credit Cards
4.8
Apple 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
Fair - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 12.74% - 23.74% 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 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.

Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card

Best With a Low APR

Our Rating Among No Credit Cards
4.5
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

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.

Discover it® Secured

Best Secured Card

,

Best for Earning Rewards

,

Best for Learning About Credit

Our Rating Among No Credit Cards
4.9
Discover it® Secured
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 (%) 24.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes

Why We Chose This Card

A secured credit card is often your best option when you have no credit, and the Discover it Secured card is our favorite. The Discover it Secured has a minimum security deposit of $200, which 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.

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. The cards on the list above are 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.

Credit Card Options When You 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 to 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. 

How to 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 to 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.