Best Credit Cards for People with No Credit of October 2022

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Moving from zero to “excellent” on the credit score scale can feel like an uphill battle. 

To build credit, you often have to access and use credit through financial products like loans and credit cards. But that’s much easier when you already have a solid credit history. And unless someone is willing to make you an authorized user on their credit card account or co-sign your loan, doing it on your own can be even more challenging.

But there are credit cards specifically designed to help you begin building your credit with little or no credit history. These starter credit cards report your payment to the credit bureaus, which can increase your score over time, and may even offer tools to help you build lasting credit habits or rewards on your everyday spending.

Here are NextAdvisor’s picks for the best starter credit cards for people with no credit:

Before You Start

Opening a credit card is a big responsibility. Before you apply, make sure you’re prepared to pay your statement balance in full and on time each month to avoid taking on high-interest debt, and practice good credit habits that can help you build and maintain a great credit score throughout your lifetime.

Best Credit Cards for No Credit History

Good for Building Credit Capital One Platinum Credit Card
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Capital One Platinum Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.6/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Capital One’s secure site.
Good for Building Credit Capital One Platinum Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.6/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    28.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    580-740 (Fair to Good)

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • Fraud coverage
  • Automatic credit line review in as little as 6 months
  • Price protection
Cons
  • No rewards
  • High APR
  • No introductory offer
The Bottom Line
The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is a no annual fee card that makes a worthwhile option for raising or building credit, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to secured credit cards. Establish healthy credit habits and avoid this card’s high interest rate by charging only purchases you can afford and paying them off in full and on time each month.

Additional Card Details

  • Automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • Platinum Mastercard benefits, which include price protection, travel accident insurance, roadside assistance, extended warranty*
  • 28.49% variable APR
Good for Rewards Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
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Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.0/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Capital One’s secure site.
Good for Rewards Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.0/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $39
  • Regular APR:
    28.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    580-740 (Fair to Good)
Rewards rate:

Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Earn flat-rate rewards without having to worry about bonus categories
  • Available to consumers with fair credit or better
  • Flexible rewards redemptions
  • No foreign transaction fees
Cons
  • High variable APR
  • $39 annual fee
  • Few meaningful cardholder benefits
The Bottom Line
The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is a solid cash back option for cardholders with average credit or no credit history, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to secured credit cards. For a $39 annual fee, you can earn a flat 1.5% back for each dollar you spend while you build a positive payment history and boost your credit score.

Additional Card Details

  • $39 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Automatic account review for a higher line of credit in as little as six months
  • Access to CreditWise program, to track and monitor credit
Good Secured Credit Card for Building Credit Citi® Secured Mastercard®
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Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Editor’s Score: (3.0/5)
Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site.
Good Secured Credit Card for Building Credit Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Editor’s Score: (3.0/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    25.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    (No Credit History)

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Available to individuals with little or no credit history
  • No annual fee
  • Payment reported to all three credit bureaus
Cons
  • High penalty and cash advance fees
  • High variable APR
  • No rewards
The Bottom Line
The Citi Secured Mastercard* is a good starter card option for consumers with no credit history. You can use this secured credit card — which Citi reports to each of the three credit bureaus — to improve your credit score while making timely payments and practicing other credit-building habits like keeping a low credit utilization rate and paying balances in full each month. To get started, you’ll need to put down a cash deposit of at least $200 after approval. The amount you chose to deposit will serve as your new card’s credit limit.

Additional Card Details

  • Establish credit and payment record with limited or no credit history
  • Choose your own due date
  • Access your FICO credit score online
  • Account alerts and access to Citi Identity Theft Solutions
  • Security deposit between $200 and $2,500 required
  • Standard variable APR of 24.74%
Good Secured Credit Card with Rewards Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card
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Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.4/5)
Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site.
Good Secured Credit Card with Rewards Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.4/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    None
  • Regular APR:
    25.49% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    (No Credit History)
Rewards rate:

3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings. 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Good for No Credit History Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card
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Petal® 2
Editor’s Score: (4.0/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Petal’s secure site.
Good for No Credit History Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (4.0/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    15.24% – 29.24% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    (No Credit History)
Rewards rate:

Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments. 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Cash back rewards increase with responsible credit use
  • No annual fee or security deposit
  • Prequalify online without a hard inquiry on your credit report
Cons
  • No welcome bonus
  • No introductory APR
  • Potentially high ongoing variable APR
The Bottom Line
The Petal 2 Visa Credit Card issued by WebBank, is designed to help credit newcomers establish credit and build a good credit score with no annual fee. You’ll earn cash back rewards on your spending, and the card uses an alternative approval process which can help you qualify even with no credit history.

Additional Card Details

  • Earn a baseline 1% cash back on all eligible purchases, and up to 1.5% back after 12 on-time payments
  • Reports payment history to all three credit bureaus
  • Credit limit between $300-$10,000 based on credit worthiness
  • No annual fee
Good for Students Discover it® Student Cash Back
Discover it® Student Cash Back
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
Good for Students Discover it® Student Cash Back
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    Cashback Match™
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    15.99% – 24.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    (No Credit History)
Rewards rate:

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Other Credit Cards We Like for People with No Credit History

These cards aren’t among our top picks for people with no credit history, but are still great options for building credit.

Good for Secured Card with Cash Back Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.7/5)
Good for Secured Card with Cash Back Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.7/5)
  • Intro offer:
    Cashback Match™
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    25.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    (No Credit History)
Rewards rate:

Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Build credit, even with limited credit history
  • Automatic monthly account reviews after 7 months to determine if you qualify for a refunded deposit
  • Earn rewards on your spending
Cons
  • Requires security deposit (minimum $200)
  • High APR
The Bottom Line
With a valuable cash back rewards program, the Discover it Secured credit card stands apart from many other credit-building secured cards. Along with the standard features of a secured credit card — a refundable cash security deposit and payment reporting to the three credit bureaus to help you build credit — the Discover it Secured credit card gives users a way to build their credit and earn cash back rates typically only available with rewards cards that require higher credit scores.

Additional Card Details

  • Cashback Match first-year bonus: Discover will automatically match all the rewards you earn at the end of your first year
  • Refundable security deposit between $200 and $2,500 required, which will act as your credit limit
  • Automatic review your account after seven months to determine if you’re eligible to get your deposit back and upgraded to an unsecured card
Good for Alternative Approval Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card
Learn More externa link icon
Petal® 1
Editor’s Score: (3.3/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Petal’s secure site.
Good for Alternative Approval Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    22.24% – 31.74% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    (No Credit History)

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • No annual fee
  • Earn rewards with select merchants
  • Petal looks at more than credit score for approval decision
  • Prequalification option
Cons
  • No ongoing rewards categories
  • High APR
  • Credit limit could be as low as $500
The Bottom Line
The Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card issued by WebBank is best for people looking to build credit for the first time or who may have had trouble getting approved for other unsecured credit cards in the past. Petal’s alternative approval option — based on a “Cash Score” using your banking info — can help you qualify even with little credit history. Just steer clear of this card’s high APR by paying your balances in full every month.

Additional Card Details

  • Get prequalified without a hard inquiry on your credit report
  • Qualify for a credit line increase after six months of on-time payments and maintaining a predetermined credit score range
  • Earn 2% to 10% cash back (when applicable) with select merchants through Petal Offers
  • Get approved based on more than your credit score — Petal considers banking information you provide within your application
  • 22.24% – 31.74% variable APR
Good for Rebuilding Credit Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
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Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.5/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Capital One’s secure site.
Good for Rebuilding Credit Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.5/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    28.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    (No Credit History)

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Build credit with no annual fee
  • Available for people with bad credit or no credit
  • Low security deposit requirement
  • Automatic credit line reviews in as little as six months
Cons
  • No rewards on your spending
  • High variable APR
  • Credit limit can be as low as $200
  • Maximum credit limit of $1,000 with equal security deposit
The Bottom Line
The Capital One Platinum Secured Card can help you increase your credit score for no annual fee, whether you have bad credit or no credit at all. A fully refundable security deposit is required, but this card offers a lower required deposit than some other secured cards. And Capital One reports your balances and payments to each of the three credit bureaus, which will help you build a positive payment history.

Additional Card Details

  • Qualify for a line of credit with a security deposit as low as $49, $99 or $200
  • Get pre-qualified online without any impact to your credit score
  • Automatic review for a higher credit line after six months
  • Choose your own due date
  • Free credit score with Capital One CreditWise
  • Emergency card replacement
  • No foreign transaction fees
Good for No Credit Check OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
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OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (2.7/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Capital Bank’s secure site.
Good for No Credit Check OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (2.7/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $35
  • Regular APR:
    19.64% (variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    (No Credit History)

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Build credit with on-time payments
  • Get approved with no credit check
  • Security deposit is fully refundable
Cons
  • $35 annual fee
  • At least $200 minimum security deposit required
  • No intro offer or rewards
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking to rebuild your credit or have no credit history at all, you can get started without a credit check with the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card. Regular reporting to the credit bureaus can help you establish a positive payment history as long as you pay in full and on time, but you will be required to pay a $35 annual fee and a minimum security deposit of $200 to get started.

Additional Card Details

  • $35 annual fee
  • No credit check required
  • Refundable security deposit (minimum $200, up to $3,000) required
  • Reports to all three credit bureaus
  • Track payments via mobile app

Best Credit Cards for People With No Credit History Summary

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Good for: Building Credit

Get automatically considered for a credit line increase after six months of timely payments, plus access to CreditWise credit monitoring tools. This card charges no annual fee. 

Capital One QuicksilverOne Rewards Credit Card

Good for: Rewards

Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, in addition to automatic credit line reviews after six months of on-time payments and access to Capital One’s credit monitoring tools. You’ll pay a $39 annual fee for the QuicksilverOne Rewards card.

Citi Secured Mastercard

Good for: Secured Credit Card for Building Credit

Upon approval, you can submit a security deposit between $200 and $2,500, which will act as your credit limit, and choose your own monthly due date. Use this card to make purchases and pay them off each month to begin building your credit history and improve your credit score. There’s no annual fee for Citi Secured Mastercard.

Bank of America Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card

Good for: Secured Credit Card for Rewards

Earn 3% back in a category of your choice and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on combined $2,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%), plus 1% on all other purchases. To open your account, you’ll need to submit a security deposit between $300 and $4,900. Bank of America periodically reviews your account to determine whether you qualify to have your refund returned. This card has no annual fee. 

Petal 2 Visa Credit Card

Good for: No Credit History

Earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases and up to 1.5% cash back after 12 on-time monthly payments. In addition to your credit report, factors like income and bill payment history (using your bank account information) may be used to determine your approval.

Discover it Student Cash Back

Good for: Students

Earn 5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories upon activation (on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%) and 1% cash back on everything else. At the end of your first year, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned, and Discover it Student Cash Back charges no annual fee.

CardAPRRewardsAnnual Fee
Capital One Platinum Credit Card28.49% VariableN/A$0
Capital One QuicksilverOne Rewards Credit Card28.49% Variable1.5% cash back on every purchase$39
Citi Secured Mastercard24.74% VariableN/A$0
Bank of America Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card*23.99% Variable• 3% cash back in choice category (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings)
• 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1%)
• 1% cash back on all other purchases
$0
Petal 2 Visa Credit Card15.24%-29.24% Variable1% cash back on all eligible purchases, and up to 1.5% cash back after establishing a positive payment history$0
Discover it®  Student Cash Back15.99%-24.99% Variable• 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter in rotating categories upon activation, then 1%.
• 1% cash back on all other purchases
$0

Other Credit Cards We Like for People with No Credit History Summary

Discover it® Secured Credit Card 

Good for: Secured Card with Cash Back 

Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases. Discover will also match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. 

This is a secured cash back credit card that requires a deposit of $200 – $2,500 that will serve as your credit limit. It doesn’t require any credit history for approval, but a hard credit check is still required.

Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card 

Good for: Alternative Approval 

The card doesn’t have any ongoing rewards, but you can enroll in the Petal Perks program to earn between between 2% and 10% from purchases with local participating merchants. The Petal 1 card is a credit building tool best to use it to make small purchases while practicing good credit habits to build and maintain good credit over time. 

Petal uses an alternative approval method — it’ll assign a “Cash Score” to determine your eligibility using banking information you provide when you apply in addition to any credit history you have. 

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Good for: Rebuilding Credit

The Capital One Platinum Secured Card doesn’t offer ongoing rewards or benefits, but can be a great tool on your path to building higher credit. You can use this card to build or repair credit with a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, depending on the terms you’re approved for.

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card 

Good for: No Credit Check 

The OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card doesn’t offer rewards, but the card doesn’t require a credit check — which can be helpful if you have less-than-perfect credit. The card requires a $35 annual fee and a refundable cash security deposit of at least $200 that will also act as your credit line. 

CardAPRRewardsAnnual Fee
Discover it® Secured Credit Card25.99% Variable2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases$0
Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card 22.24%-31.74% Variable N/A$0
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card 28.49% VariableN/A$0
OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card 19.64% Variable N/A$35

How a Credit Card Can Help You Save Money 

Inflation is impacting everything from the price of gas to grocery store hauls. But with the right credit card, you can earn rewards on your regular spending to offset rising costs, while also building credit. Some starter credit cards offer up to 3% cash back on groceries, gas, and other purchases. 

When you’re first building credit or rebuilding a poor credit score, it’s important to focus on establishing good credit habits over maximizing every rewards dollar. Start your credit journey by making small purchases and paying your balance in full each month. Choose a card with rewards in categories you already spend most, so you can make the most of the things you would buy anyway, and use the cash back or points toward future savings.

How to Get a Credit Card Without Credit

While some credit cards (especially those with long-lasting intro offers or premium perks and rewards) do require excellent credit for approval, there are plenty of starter credit card options designed to help you build and maintain good credit. Here are some ways you can get a credit card with no credit:

Secured Credit Cards

Secured credit cards require an upfront deposit upon approval, which typically acts as your credit limit. The deposit makes these cards more accessible for people with little credit history or bad credit, because the deposit secures the credit the bank lends you, like a form of collateral. These cards usually don’t offer great rewards, but can be a helpful stepping stone to more valuable card options. Depending on your issuer, you may even be able to upgrade to an unsecured card in the future without having to close your account.

Student Credit Cards

Student cards are a great credit-building option for students looking to get ahead before graduation. Not only can you establish a positive payment history by using your card responsibly in school, but these cards often offer rewards and benefits geared toward students and everyday spending. When you graduate, you may choose to continue using your student card or request an upgrade to a standard credit card from your issuer.

Authorized User

You can build credit as an authorized user on a trusted friend or family member’s credit card account if you can’t get approved for your own. For example, parents may designate their children as authorized users on a card reserved for emergencies or another agreed-upon use, like fueling up at the gas station. 

As an authorized user, you may have your own card, but responsibility for payment (and resulting effects on your credit) ultimately falls on the account owner. Before agreeing to be an authorized user, ensure the account owner is a responsible cardholder with a history of timely payments, or future negative payment history could reflect badly on your credit score.

How Can a Credit Card Help You Build Credit?

Because your credit score is determined based on information in your credit report, building credit depends on reporting information to the credit bureaus that will appear on your report. Here’s how credit cards work:

Credit card issuers report your payments to each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) regularly. Over time — and with responsible credit use — you’ll establish a positive payment history on your credit report, which accounts for 35% of your overall credit score determination, according to FICO.

Credit cards also play into other credit scoring factors, including credit utilization (30%), age of accounts (15%) and credit mix (10%). 

Experts recommend maintaining a credit utilization ratio (the amount of credit you use in comparison to your overall available credit) under 30%. Keep your regular spending under 30% of your card’s overall credit limit to increase your score over time. 

Opening a credit card and keeping it in good standing will also contribute to your age of accounts. The best credit scores benefit from long account ages, so the sooner you open an account, the longer history you can establish over time.

Credit cards play into credit mix as a form of revolving credit. Installment loans like auto or student loans are also reported to the bureaus and appear on your report, but introducing a credit card into your credit mix can help prove to future lenders your ability to manage different types of debt.

These factors, in addition to overall responsible credit use (avoid carrying a debt balance, make payments on time and in full each month, etc.) will improve your credit score.  

Why Establishing a Credit History Matters

Establishing a credit history is an important aspect of your finances that can have implications throughout your lifetime.

Lenders use your credit score, which is a reflection of your credit history, to determine your creditworthiness when you apply for financing for everything from a rewards credit card to a new car and even your dream home. Your credit score not only influences whether you’re approved or denied, but also the terms and interest.

Credit doesn’t just apply to loan eligibility, though. Insurance providers, prospective employers, and future landlords may also check your credit history to help determine your overall responsibility and trustworthiness.

What to Look for in a Starter Credit Card

You should use a starter credit card as a tool to help you establish a credit history and build your credit score. Here are a few details to consider before applying for your first credit card:

  • Annual Fee: An annual fee doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker, but you should make sure you can recoup the cost of a credit card’s annual fee with your regular spending, whether through rewards or other benefits. For starter cards especially, there are plenty of great options available that charge no annual fee.
  • Interest Rate: Responsible credit usage means you should pay your balance off in full and on time each month, so you don’t take on any high-interest charges. But it’s still important to know the rate your card charges on unpaid balances, and how much that could end up costing you over time.
  • Credit Limit: Your credit limit is the maximum amount you can charge to your credit card. If you open a secured credit card, your limit will likely be the amount you put down as a deposit, while unsecured cards will assign a credit limit upon approval. This limit not only affects the amount you may spend using your card, but can also impact your credit score. If you’re assigned a small credit limit, it may be more difficult to maintain a good credit utilization ratio and increase your score.
  • Fees: Beyond the annual fee, there are other fees you might take on with a new credit card, including late payment fees, foreign transaction fees, penalty APR, balance transfer fees, returned payment fees, and more. Be aware of what these fees charge as well as how you can avoid them.
  • Rewards: While building good credit should be your primary goal with a starter credit card, you can also use it to add value to your regular spending through rewards. Look for a card with a simple rewards structure (like cash back) that will reward your most frequent spending. For many people, this includes everyday spending categories like groceries, gas, and dining.
  • Upgrades: A secured credit card, student card, or basic credit-building card can be incredibly useful for establishing credit, but once you have a great credit score, you may want to upgrade to a card that better suits your spending habits. Some issuers offer the option to upgrade to another card after a certain amount of time or period of good standing, which can be an easy way to upgrade without another hard credit check or new account opening. 

Making the Most of Your Starter Credit Card

Make the most of your starter credit card by using it to establish a foundation of good credit habits.

Only charge purchases to your card you know you can pay off when your statement balance is due — in other words, use your card like a debit card. And when it is time to pay, submit your full statement balance on time to avoid taking on debt and late fees. Over time, as your card issuer reports these habits to the credit bureaus, your positive payment history will grow and increase your score over time.

You should also keep an eye on your credit utilization while you’re building your credit score. Keep your monthly balance below 30% (and even more ideally, around 10%) of your overall credit limit to increase your credit score.

As you use your starter card to build your score, you can also make the most of any rewards and benefits it has to offer. 

Look into how rewards categories align with your regular spending to maximize your purchases — and then make sure to pay those charges off before you accrue interest, since carrying a balance will quickly wipe out any rewards you earn.

Take advantage of other added benefits your issuer may offer too, like credit monitoring tools, travel protections, account alerts, and more.

Tips for Applying for Your First Credit Card

Before applying for your first credit card, think about your current financial goals and spending habits. You can build credit by using your first credit card to make small purchases that are already in your budget — such as groceries, gas, or streaming subscriptions. Look for a card that fits your credit profile and offers benefits for your spending.

When you’re ready to apply for your first card, here are some tips to get started:

  • Think about what type of card you’re getting. Most rewards credit cards require good to excellent credit, and a positive credit history. For your first credit card, look for student credit card or secured credit card to improve your chances of approval. Credit cards with alternative approvals can be another great option if you pay your bills on time and have savings, but lack any credit history.
  • Read your credit card issuer’s terms and conditions before applying. Pay attention any fees such as late fees, balance transfer charges, penalty APRs, or changes to rewards after your first year. If you’re unsure of any terms, it’s best to ask your credit card issuer before agreeing. 
  • Understand your credit card’s interest rate and how it can change over time. Most APRs change with the prime rate. But remember that interest is avoidable if you pay your bill each month and on time. 

Who Should Get a Starter Card

You may choose a starter credit card if you’re building credit for the first time or if you’re rebuilding less-than-perfect credit. Usually, these cards have lower eligibility requirements to better your chances of getting approved. You may not get as many rewards as cash back or premium travel or rewards credit cards, but after you’ve maintained good credit habits and your score increases, you may qualify for a credit card that offers more rewards and benefits. 

For instance, if you’re a student in college looking to start building credit before graduating, you may choose a student credit card like the Chase Freedom® Student Credit Card. With many credit cards for young adults like this one, you’ll earn rewards on your everyday spending and may be able to upgrade to a non-student card after graduation.

On the other hand, both secured credit cards and credit cards with alternative approvals make great starter credit cards too. They account for more than just your credit history (for secured cards, your security deposit collateral and for alternative approval cards, other banking information), so you may get approved more easily than with cards that required good-to-excellent credit. 

Who Should Skip a Starter Card

If you’ve already built a great credit score — whether you’ve had a starter credit card for a while, you were able to build credit being an authorized user on someone else’s card, or some other method — you probably don’t need to limit your options to starter cards.

If your credit score is at least in the “good” range (generally 670 or above) you may be able to qualify for no annual fee cash back credit cards or great travel and rewards cards with an annual fee to better maximize your spending and earn rewards. 

Like with any type of card, it can pay to compare different offers you might qualify for before you apply. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I apply for a credit card with no income?

Most credit card issuers will look at your debt and income to determine your approval. However, you may qualify for a secured credit card with a refundable cash deposit if you don’t have income, and some credit card issuers offer alternative approval processes to evaluate your financial situation. Check with your individual issuer before you apply for more specific information about income requirements.

Can I get a credit card with no credit limit?

Some business and premium credit cards have no preset credit limits. Usually, these cards are not easy for everyone to get. You may be invited to apply for a card like this or ask your preferred credit card issuer if there are any options for no credit limit available. However, most cards — especially those for building credit — will have strict credit limits. You can also ask your credit card issuer for a higher credit limit to improve your credit utilization ratio

How do I build credit quickly with no credit history?

The best way to build credit is to get a beginner credit card and use it for small purchases. As you pay your bill in full and on time each month, your good credit habits will be reported to the three major credit bureaus to build your credit score.

How do I start building a credit score?

There are a few ways you can start building your credit score. You may become an authorized user on a credit card that a family or friend already has. Or you may get a starter credit card to establish good credit practices. The best way to build your credit score is to pay your balance in full and on time each month. You should also pay off other outstanding balances as quickly as possible to avoid debt and interest.

Are student credit cards a smart decision?

You may choose a student credit card as a first step to building credit. Most of these cards don’t charge an annual fee, and may even offer rewards and perks geared toward students to gain value from your spending while establishing good credit habits. Later, you can ask your issuer to upgrade from a student card to a general credit card after you’ve built credit.

What does it mean when a credit card is secured?

A secured credit card requires a security deposit to open the account. This deposit acts as collateral for the lender against the credit they issue to you. The security deposit will act as your line of credit and it may be refunded if your credit issuer reviews your account to upgrade you to an unsecured credit card.

Methodology

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

To determine the best credit cards for people with no credit history, we focus on the cards currently available from major issuers that are accessible for applicants with little or no credit history and offer tools to help establish and maintain good credit. Card details we consider include annual fee, APR, rewards and benefits (including those tied to healthy credit habits), fees, credit reporting, and more.

*All information about the Bank of America Cash Rewards Secured and Discover it Student Cash back been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.