One factor matters above all others in determining what type of credit card you can get approved for: your credit score. For example, to get approved for the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you’ll need a good to excellent credit score, ranging from 670 to 850.
But what happens if you have a credit score in the “very poor” range, from 300 to 579 on the FICO scale? Or if you do not have a credit history, for example if you just moved to the United States?
You still have options, but they aren’t as plentiful as what you would have with a higher score.
If your credit score falls into that category, or if you have no credit history, it could be worth looking into some credit cards whose issuers don’t perform a credit check. Instead, they will only let you borrow up to a limit equivalent to money you’ve deposited with the issuer, or will link to your bank account to withdraw funds directly.
To help you choose, we’ve rounded up some of the top cards on the market that don’t need a credit check when you apply.
What Does a Credit Check Reveal?
When an issuer or lender checks your credit report, it will reveal a few things about you—including your name; current and previous address; your employer, if you provided it to creditors or lenders; revolving accounts such as credit cards and lines of credit; installment loans such as student loans or a mortgage payment; open and closed accounts; account payment history; recent credit and loan applications; any unpaid debts; and any bankruptcies, repossessions or foreclosures.
To build or improve your credit score, it’s important not just to pay your bills on time and regularly, but to look at all the factors that go into it—such as how much of your available credit you’re using.
Your credit score is different from your credit report, but it is affected by factors that go in your credit report, like your payment history. Overall, your score depends on a mix of things—for example, how much of your available credit you are using and how long you’ve had credit.
What If You Have Bad or No Credit?
Building credit and having a solid credit score is a key financial strategy, as it will unlock many financial milestones such as having a credit card, applying for a car loan, or getting a mortgage.
If you do not have good credit, or any credit at all, you will likely have a harder time applying for mid-tier and premium credit cards, which will give you rewards such as cash back or points you can redeem for travel.
To improve or establish your credit score, first you’ll want to pay the bills on any loans on time and if possible in full every month, since payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO credit score. Late payments go on your credit report after 30 days and stay there for seven years.
We also recommend not using all the credit you have. How much of it you use is known as your credit utilization ratio, or the ratio of your outstanding balances to the available limit.
Additionally, since the length of your credit history affects your overall credit score, it’s a good idea to keep older accounts open and active. If you’re a good customer, you can always call your card’s issuer and ask for better terms, as well, such as lower interest rates or higher credit card limits. If you have a card with an annual fee that you want to cancel because it no longer serves your financial goals, or provide enough value to offset the fee, consider downgrading to a no-fee card instead to preserve your account and the history that goes with it.
Best Credit Cards With No Credit Check
If your credit score is sub-par—or you don’t have one at all—and you are looking to get approved for a credit card without a credit check, these cards will be your best bet.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
With the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card, you can set your credit limit, ranging from $200 to $3,000. The issuer will report your payments to all three major credit bureaus—Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion®— which will help you establish credit, and you will have to make a $200 security deposit.
If you want to get the deposit back after you have established better credit and a higher credit score, you’ll need to close your account. The card charges a variable APR rate of 17.64%, and carries a $35 annual fee.
GO2bank Secured Credit Card
The GO2bank credit card does not have an annual fee, and you can set your credit limit by making an initial and refundable security deposit of at least $100, which will also be set as your credit limit.
You can also get a free monthly credit score from VantageScore® powered by Equifax® so that you can regularly check your progress towards improving your credit score. GO2bank will report your credit standing to the three major bureaus every month, as well. The card charges an APR rate of 22.99% on balances not paid in full.
Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card
Once approved for the Applied Bank Secured Visa Gold Preferred card, you can deposit any amount of money between $200 and $1,000 that will act as your credit line. Additionally, you’ll have access to the Applied Advantage® program, where you can get discounts from retailers such as Macy’s, JCPenney and Kohl’s.
The card has a $48 annual fee, and a relatively low fixed APR rate at just 9.99%. It also reports monthly to all three credit bureaus.
Unlike many of the other cards on this list, the Tomo Card is unique in that it does not require a security deposit, carry an annual fee, or have an APR rate. It also earns 1% cash back on all purchases. You can redeem your points via the account dashboard 28 days after the previous month’s statement has been paid in full.
Tomo will look at your bank account to determine your credit limit, which will range from $100 to $10,000. It reports to all three major credit bureaus and your account is set to automatically pay every week so that you cannot carry a balance, on which you would then have to pay interest.