Credit Cards » Compare Credit Cards » Best Credit Cards for No Credit History (February 2024)
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Best Credit Cards for No Credit History (May 2024)

Getting a credit card without a credit history is definitely possible. Here's how to make it - and what are the best cards for your needs
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024
The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024

The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.

We earn a commission from our partner links on this page. It doesn't affect the integrity of our unbiased, independent editorial staff. Transparency is a core value for us, read our advertiser disclosure and how we make money.

People with no credit are usually composed of students, immigrants and new workers who have never had a credit card or a loan. They might have a clean slate but credit-wise, having none is worse than having a bad record on file. Regular payments over a period of time can restore a bad credit record

However, a blank credit record leaves the financial institutions with no easy basis to evaluate your credit-worthiness.  They need to look at your past payment history and your capacity to repay your bills on time.

The good news: there are credit cards for people with no credit. Here are The Smart Investor recommended cards for those who don't have credit history already:

Card
Rewards
Bonus
Annual Fee

chime card

None
None
$0
Review

citi secured mastercard review

None
None
$0
Review

Upgrade_CashRewards card

1.5% 1.5% cash back on payments
$200
$0
Review

discover-it-student-cash-back_5mNPw7i

1-5% 5% cash back on activated rotating category purchases (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases
Match Bonus Match Bonus for the first 12 months
$0
Review

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

1% 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV services
None
$75 – $99
Review

How to Make s Smart Choice?

The credit card will likely be your first facility in building your credit.  Remember the following tips before you make your selection:

  • Read the fine prints. Yes, they’re really small but go through the trouble.  After all, you don’t want to find out later that you can only use the card at certain stores.  Or that the interest rate doubles after a promotional period are over.  Be mindful of the contract provisions.
  • Keep an eye on your credit score. When you begin using your card and paying the balance, your credit score changes.  Keep track of it to make sure that you are building a good history.
  • Pay the balance every month. Create a monthly budget and make sure that you have money to pay for what you will charge to your card.  This way, when the bill arrives, you can pay the entire balance.  It will dramatically hurt your credit score if you miss a payment or if you carry your balance to the next cycle.
  • Do some research and compare card offers and terms. Not all cards are the same so look for the one that works best according to your lifestyle.  Check the rates, fees, conditions, penalties, rewards and cut-off dates.
  • Have a plan to manage your credit card. People who do not have a plan on how to use their credit cards often end up using them irresponsibly.  If you are planning to zero out your balance every month, look for a card that gives the most rewards.  Some student cards offer a cash-back incentive.

Before you actually apply for a credit card, arm yourself with information.  For example, if you’re likely to carry over some balance to the next period, get a low-interest card.  Several student cards offer a zero-percent APR for the first 6-8 months.  This is a good way to help you pay off large purchases over the introductory period without paying for interest. Others have installment plans.

Check for all the benefits such as low-interest rate, no annual fee, loyalty points, cash rebates and reasonable credit limits.  Learn how the billing cycles work so you can time your purchases. Many financial institutions offer free online tools to help you track and manage your expenses.

Chime® Credit Builder

Reward details

None

Current Offer

None

Credit Rating

Good – Excellent

Annual Fee

$0

0% Intro

N/A

APR

N/A

The Chime Credit Builder card is a perfect fit for youngers, students and those who are looking to build their credit.

You can fund your Credit Builder card with funds from your account. You can then use your card at any retailer or store that accepts Visa. Chime will notify Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian about your card activity. There is also the option to enable the Safe Credit Building feature. This automatically pays your card's balance on time.

The main limitation of the card is that your card limit is determined by the balance in your account. So, if you have $300 in your account and spend $150 on your Chime Credit Builder Card, your limit will be $150 for the next month until you add more funds to your account.

  • Rewards Plan: None
  • APR: N/A
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 0%
  • Sign Up bonus:None
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate:N/A
  • No Minimum Deposit
  • No Fees
  • No Credit Check
  • Auto Payment Option Available
  • You Need a Chime Spending Account
  • Need Funds to Set Your Credit Limit
  • Card Limit Can Vary
  • No Credit Utilization Score
  • No Option to Upgrade to Another Card

What are the Card Income Requirements?

Chime does not have any income requirements for the Credit Builder credit card. You will need to open a Chime Spending account, but this does not require a credit check. This means that you will not need to prove your income to access the Chime banking services.

Does the Card Ask for Proof of Income?

This is not necessary for Chime, but to determine your credit limit, Upgrade may require that you provide proof of income.

Can I Get Pre Approved?

The only pre approval you need for the Chime card is to open up a Chime Spending account, but this does not require a credit check. It is not possible to open a Chime card account without having a Spending account.

What is the Initial Card Credit Limit?

Your initial Chime credit limit will be determined by how much you transfer to your Credit Builder account. You can transfer as little or as much as you like and then use the card as you would a prepaid debit card.

What are the top reasons not to get it?

The top reason not to get the Chime card is that you don’t want to open a Spending account. The Chime card is an integrated product, which requires transfers from a Chime Spending account. So, if you are happy with your current checking account and simply want a credit card, this is not the right choice for you.

Does the card report payments to all credit bureaus?

Chime does report payment activity to all the credit bureaus, which helps to build or rebuild your credit.

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

citi secured mastercard review

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Reward Details

None

Current Offer

None

Credit Rating

Poor – Fair

Annual Fee

$0

0% Intro

None

APR

21.24% – 29.24% (Variable)

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is different from other secured credit cards. It is designed for individuals that have no credit or individuals with limited credit. Individuals with bad credit are not eligible to have this card. It's a great plus for you if you qualify because they don’t charge an annual fee, and they report all card activities to all the three main credit bureaus.

The Citi Secured Mastercard offers no rewards. Some of the benefits you can get from using this card include; free FICO score access, account alerts and flexible payment due date. However, there is a high annual percentage, which is one of the disadvantages of using this card.

  • APR: 21.24% – 29.24% (Variable)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 3%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Rewards Plan: None
  • Sign Up bonus: None
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: None
  • Build Your Credit
  • No Annual Fee
  • Protection
  • No Rewards/Intro 0% APR Periods / Sign Up Bonus
  • High APR
  • Deposit Needed

Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards

Upgrade_CashRewards card

Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards

Reward Details

1.5% cash back on payments 1.5%

Current Offer

$200

Credit Rating

Fair

Annual Fee

$0

0% Intro

N/A

APR

14.99% – 29.99%

The Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards is a good pick if you are looking for a no-annual-fee credit card with a flat-rate cashback reward while having a fair-average score. Those who0 don't have credit history may get accepted as well.

It offers 1.5% cash back on payments, but you should be aware that the cash backs on all your purchases with this card are only given when you make payments, not before. This is the only reward you get; so if you want intro rates or welcome bonuses, consider other alternatives.

Unlike conventional credit cards which charge you daily interest for carrying a balance, this card practically gives you a personal line of credit ($500 – $25,000 or more). This will be split into equal installments which you pay every month. You may use your credit line on purchases online, at retail stores, or even transfer the funds from your card to your personal bank account at no extra cost.

  • APR: 14.99% – 29.99%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Up to 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: Up to 3%
  • Rewards Plan: 1.5% cash back on payments
  • Sign Up bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after you open & fund a Rewards Checking Plus account & make 3 debit card transactions within 60 days. If you previously opened a checking account through Upgrade or do not do so as part of this process, you are not eligible. Payout made within 60 days of meeting the conditions.
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: N/A
  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back
  • No Fees
  • Reports to Three Major Credit Bureaus
  • No Deposit Required
  • No Grace Period
  • Inflexible Payments
  • No Signup Bonus
  • Limited Availability

What are the Upgrade Card Income Requirements?

Upgrade does run a credit check for its credit cards, so your income to debt ratio will be a deciding factor. However, you can obtain pre approval for the cards, so you can confirm that you have sufficient income to qualify for the minimum credit limit.

Does the Card Ask for Proof of Income?

Upgrade will use your application information to determine pre approval, but to confirm your application, you may need to provide copies of paystubs or other proof of income.

What are the top reasons not to get the Upgrade card?

The top reason for not getting an Upgrade card is that you don’t want the card company to run your credit. If you already know you have a bad score or no credit history, a hard credit pull could have detrimental effects.

Can I add an authorized user?

Upgrade doesn't allow second users on their credit cards, so it is not possible to add an authorized user on these accounts.

How is Upgrade customer service availability?

If you want to speak to the Upgrade customer service team, there is a toll free number open Monday to Friday, 6 am to 6 pm and 6 am to 5 pm on weekends (Pacific Time). Alternatively, you can email the support team, but you’ll need to wait for a response

 

 

 

 

 

Discover It Student Cash Back

Reward Details

1-5% 5% cash back on activated rotating category purchases (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases

Current Offer

Match Bonus Match Bonus for the first 12 months

Credit Rating

Fair

Annual Fee

$0

0% Intro

6 months on purchases

APR

18.24% – 27.24% Variable

The Discover it® Student Cash Back card designed for students alone and it's a great option if you don't have a credit history yet. It is one of the best products for those in higher institutions in the US. It is ideal for clients starting their credit journey and wish to earn cashback rewards. The rewards plan includes 5% cash back on activated rotating category purchases (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases.

There is a match bonus on all cash backs after your first year, as well as o% intro APR for 6 months on purchases. The card is widely accepted across the US, and it offers a series of benefits, including good grade rewards for students with a gpa of 3.0 and higher. 

  • APR: 18.24% – 27.24% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: %5
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Rewards Plan: 5% cash back on activated rotating category purchases (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases
  • Sign Up bonus: Match Bonus for the first 12 months
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: 6 months on purchases
  • Introductory Rates
  • Cash Back Rewards
  • No Annual Fee
  • Limited Use outside the US
  • No International Students
  • Activate Bonus Categories Every Quarter
  • Is there a limit to cash back rewards? Bonus categories capped at $1,500 in total relevant purchases per quarter.
  • Can I get car rental insurance with Discover it Student Cash Back? how? No
  • What is the initial credit limit? It is often $500
  • How do I redeem cash back? The rewards can be redeemed at any time for the likes of electronic deposits, statements credits, charitable donations or to pay at certain retailers like Aamzon.com.
  • What purchases don't earn cash back? All purchases earn cashback
  • How hard is it to get Discover it Student Cash Back Card? Not hard, no credit/fair score needed.
  • How to maximize rewards? Activate and maximize the bonus categories each quarter..
  • Does Discover ask for proof of income? No 
  • Can I get pre-approved ? Yes

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®

Reward Details

1% 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV services

Current Offer

None

Credit Rating

Poor – Limited

Annual Fee

$75 – $99

0% Intro

None

APR

29.74% Variable

The Credit One Bank Platinum Visa with Cash Back Rewards credit card is a good fir if you don't have a credit history, while still being offered some type of rewards options for the card holder. It's available to those with a bad, poor or fair credit rating. The card’s limit is variable depending on your income and credit history. However, you can obtain an initial credit line of $300 to $3,000.

Credit One also automatically reviews accounts for opportunities to increase the credit line. You can also choose your payment due date to fit your financial habits. In addition to these benefits, you can also earn 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV services.

  • APR: 29.74% Variable
  • Annual fee: $75 – $99
  • Balance Transfer Fee: None
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $1 or 3%
  • Rewards Plan: 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV services
  • Sign Up bonus: None
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: None
  • Build Your Credit
  • No Annual Fee
  • Cash Back Rewards
  • High Credit Limit
  • Annual Fee
  • High APR
  • Penalty Fees

Credit Cards For No Credit History

How To Get A Credit Card With No Credit History?

We’ve said that credit is required for nearly anything.  Prospective landlords will require it and your bank will want to check it before it finances your first car.

There are several ways to get a credit card without a credit history.  You can then use these cards to build a credible credit standing that will be to your later advantage.  When you are ready to take out a mortgage or apply for a business loan, your history will up your score.

1. Get A Co-Signatory To Vouch For You

If banks won’t give you a credit card, you can make use of someone else’s credit to get one.  A good guarantor would be someone with a good job and equally good credit.

Find one who is a client in good standing of the bank where you are applying for a card.  The bank is likely to grant if that person has sufficient deposit and/or credit business with that same bank.

However, getting a credit card with a co-signer comes with great responsibilities too.  You are involving another person with your credit performance.  Your guarantor would have to look over your shoulder to see that you are being financially responsible.

Remember that if you miss your payments or over-extend your card, your co-signer’s credit is affected.  In fact, some credit card agreements would allow the bank to run after your co-signatory if you default.  Think carefully if you can really manage your credit card debts before you apply with someone else.

2. Apply For A Secured Credit Card

When you don’t qualify for a traditional card at the moment, a secured credit card is a great solution. Getting a secured credit card requires you to put down a deposit that is sometimes higher than the credit limit you will get.

The card itself will work as a traditional credit card and your card activities are reported to the credit bureaus.  This way, you will eventually be able to build your own credit.

You will also have to pay your monthly credit card bills just like in a traditional card.  In case you fail to pay, the bank has the authority to use your deposit to pay for your credit card bill.  They might even charge you a penalty. Keeping your payments updated and on time is important in building good credit.

Secured Cards Are Easy Approval

The bank will almost always approve a secured credit card – and much faster too.

After all, they have all the fallback security in their hands.  Plus, they will also make money off your credit card use.  The bank has nothing to lose.  You have nothing to lose.  If you can’t qualify for an unsecured credit card, a secured card could be your best and only option.  Use it to build your credit.

So what’s the secret?

The secret to all this is making sure to manage your card use very well.  Don’t go over your limit but try not to max out your card.  Always aim pay on time and if you can, pay even earlier than the due date.  If you are able to do so, pay the entire amount due and not just the minimum amount needed.

When you prove to the bank your credit worthiness, you can usually get an upgrade.  You can apply for an unsecured version of your card.  You can also cancel the existing card and get a new card with more perks and benefits.  Either way, you’ll free up your deposit so you can get it back.  Remember not to default at any time and pay your card’s balance in full. 

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3. Check If You Pre-Qualify For A Credit Card

It only takes a few clicks to know if you pre-qualify for a credit card. Some major credit card companies have an online facility that checks if your profile pre-qualifies for a credit card.

These pre-qualification finders usually make soft credit checks or soft inquiries.  Soft inquiries neither damage nor affect your credit scores because they are merely for informational purposes. Since soft pulls are inquiries you didn’t request, credit bureaus do not factor them into your credit score.

However, should you actually apply for a credit card, they will become hard inquiries and show up on your credit score.  Hard pulls potentially lower your credit score because lenders might conclude that you are a greater risk.  This is particularly true when several hard inquiries show up under your name within the same period.

How Long Does It Take To Improve Your Credit

Pre-Qualification vs Pre-Approval: What's The Difference?

When you pre qualify, you just sending your details to the issuer, that will let you know if you're approved.

The issuer or your bank will eventually look at the overall conditions before giving you a credit card.  Factors like your current income come into play and may cause the difference between approval and rejection.

In case you are denied, you will normally get a letter that will tell you the specific reason(s)for the disapproval.  This information can help you plan what to do next.

Here are some financial companies that have a pre-qualification finder:

  • American Express
  • Bank of America
  • Capital One
  • Chase Pre Qualified
  • Citibank
  • Discover
  • US Bank

4. Try A Student Credit Card

If you’re still a student, you are most likely not to have a credit score that banks can refer to.  If you have a very limited credit history or have no debts or loans, the credit bureaus may not have enough credit information on you.  Don’t worry – you may still try to get a student credit card.

A student credit card is a starter credit card.  It works like a regular credit card but most of the features are specially tailored for college students.  These include cash rebates, waived annual fees, reward programs and even monetary gifts for good grades!

To get one, you’ll need proof that you are currently enrolled at a qualified college or university.  If you are under 21, you’ll need proof of income or a co-signatory.  You ought to be able to get one of these student credit cards.

A word of advice – compare offers and choose carefully.  Some student credit cards are easier to get but they are not student-friendly.  Some charge high-interest rates and have a heap of fees.  Nevertheless, one of the easiest ways to build your credit is by getting and then sensibly using a student credit card.

5. Go By Way Of A Prepaid Card

The fastest way to get a card and build a credit history is via a prepaid card. A prepaid card does not require a credit history and works the same way as a credit card does.  You can use it to pay bills and to purchase online and in traditional stores, even abroad.  Some cards would also allow you to withdraw money from ATMs.  Some companies add incentives for the use of the card such as cash-back offers and discounts.

It also frees you from over-spending since you can only purchase as much as the balance you have loaded to the card.  You can only put enough money on it for your current needs and keep the rest in the bank.

6. Tough It Out With A Store Credit Card

Retail stores are quite lenient to people with no credit history so try your luck with them.  Your best bet would be ‘closed-loop’ cards or cards not affiliated with MasterCard, Visa or other major brands.  You could probably only use the card at that particular store but hey, it’ll jump start your credit history.

Here’s a warning:  they often have low credit limits and high-interest rate (See how to reduce your card interest rate).  Keep your balance minimal and pay off your total balance every month to avoid extra financing charges.

7. Your Mother Was Right:  You Should Get A Job

Obviously, you must have sufficient income to pay off your credit card debts – especially if you are below 21. You cannot use other people’s income on your application if you do not have reasonable access to that money.  In other words, you should have your own source of income.

Having a job guarantees to have a monthly income. This, in turn, improves your chances of getting approved for a credit card even without a credit history.  Higher monthly income means higher chances.

Final Words

It may be your first ever credit card but it will have a big impact on your credit.  I am talking about the many years yet to come.  Though you have no credit now, this is bound to change as soon as you get a credit card.  Be responsible and keep your credit card account in good standing from the beginning.  It can save you the years of hard work it takes to remedy poor credit later on.

How We Picked The Best Cards For No Credit History: Methodology

To identify the best cards for individuals with no credit history, our team thoroughly researched offerings from various issuers, focusing on major banks and financial institutions. We rated these cards based on four key categories tailored for consumers new to credit:

  • Credit Building Features (40%): We evaluate features specifically designed to help individuals establish credit, such as secured credit card options, reporting to major credit bureaus, and credit limit increases based on responsible usage. Cards with robust credit-building features and transparent policies receive higher scores in this category.

  • Approval Requirements & Process (30%): This category assesses the ease of approval for applicants with no credit history, including minimum income requirements, security deposit amounts for secured cards, and flexibility in application criteria. Cards with lenient approval requirements and straightforward application processes earn higher ratings.

  • Fees & Terms (20%): We examine the fee structure and terms associated with the card, including annual fees, interest rates, penalty fees, and foreign transaction fees. Cards with low fees, competitive interest rates, and favorable terms for cardholders with no credit history receive higher scores in this category.

  • Issuer Reputation (10%): We scrutinize each issuer's reputation, considering customer feedback, financial stability, and regulatory standing. Issuers with positive reviews from cardholders and a history of supporting individuals new to credit with responsible lending practices receive higher ratings in this category.

This comprehensive evaluation ensures that the best cards for individuals with no credit history offer accessible credit-building opportunities, reasonable fees and terms, and a positive relationship with the issuer, empowering consumers to establish their credit responsibly.

Picture of Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
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Milestone® Mastercard®

Annual Fee:
$175 the first year; $49 thereafter
APR:
35.90%

upgrade cash rewards

Rewards Plan:
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Welcome Bonus:
$200 Earn a $200 bonus after you open & fund a Rewards Checking Plus account & make 3 debit card transactions within 60 days. If you previously opened a checking account through Upgrade or do not do so as part of this process, you are not eligible. Payout made within 60 days of meeting the conditions.
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Milestone® Mastercard®

Annual Fee:
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Credit Card Reviews Methodology

In order to determine the best possible credit cards, we look at things like fees, interest rates and rewards. We do this with companies that are associated with us as partners as well as other offerings. From there, we make a decision about what the best card is related to different categories and needs. We focus on interest rate cost & fees, especially the cost of carrying a balance, rewards – cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely usability – cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting. We also consider customer reviews.

We look at cards related to good or excellent credit ratings that will then provide a range of different benefits and improvements for someone who has these scores. We also look at low fees when it comes to those who have lower credit scores.