The Best Credit Cards for No Credit in 2019

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Building a strong credit history takes time, but these cards can help you get started. 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. These are the best credit cards for consumers with no (or very little) credit:

Editors' Picks

Best Overall

Discover it® Secured

Our Rating Among No Credit Cards
4.6
Discover it® Secured
Full Review
Next Steps
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 (%) 24.99% variable
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes

Why We Chose This Card

Many low-fee rewards cards are out of reach when you don’t have a credit history, but not this secured card. It offers competitive cash back rewards and is designed to teach you about credit and using cards wisely. Keep your balance low and make on-time payments and your card may become unsecured in just eight short months. If you have no credit, it’s the best secured card option, and best for rewards, low/few fees, and learning about credit.

Best for Students

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Our Rating Among No Credit Cards
4.2
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
Full Review
Next Steps
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 (%) 26.96% variable
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
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

Simple rewards, no annual fee, and incentives to demonstrate good credit behavior make this card perfect for college students, or just students of credit. Make your first five monthly payments on time and Capital One may increase your credit limit, and every month you make on-time payments, you can get a higher cash-back rewards-earning rate. You can easily track your credit-building journey (get it?) through Capital One’s Credit Wise education tool, too.

Best Unsecured Card

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

Our Rating Among No Credit Cards
3.9
Capital One® Platinum Credit Card
Full Review
Next Steps
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 (%) 26.96% variable
Annual Fee No Annual Fee

Why We Chose This Card

It’s not a secured card, but you may still qualify, thanks to it’s relaxed credit score requirements. This is definitely a card for credit builders as it rewards on-time payments with a credit limit increase, but comes with a high APR. However, there’s no annual fee, so if you can use the card but pay off your balance each month, it’s a solid entry-level option that can be a stepping stone to an even better card down the road.

Best Card With the Lowest APR

SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card

Our Rating Among No Credit Cards
4.8
SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card
Full Review
Next Steps
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 (%) 17.99% variable
Annual Fee $50
Minimum Deposit to Activate $300
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Pay deposit in installments No

Why We Chose This Card

It’s unusual for a secured card to charge an APR lower than 24%, let alone sub-20%. When you carry a card balance month-to-month, each percentage point counts. Interest costs can add up fast and quickly consume a secured card’s already low available credit, which will hurt the credit you’re trying to build. Now, 17.99% is still a pretty high APR, so be mindful of that potential cost, but it’s better than the alternatives.

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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    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.
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    580 669
    670 739
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How Can I Get a Credit Card if I Have No Credit History?

Getting access to credit can be tricky when you don’t have a credit history. One of the first thing 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. How do you get out of this catch-22?

Fortunately, the cards on the list above are designed specifically for those 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

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

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.