Woman paying with a credit card at a restaurant.

How To Get A Credit Card With No Credit

Sarah Sharkey8-minute read
May 07, 2021

If you don’t have a credit history, credit card issuers will view you as a risk because they have no way of knowing how responsible you are with your credit. As a result, they’ll be less likely to approve you for a credit card. The good news is that there are certain things you can do to increase your chances of getting approved for a credit card with no credit. Keep reading to learn more. 

Can You Get A Credit Card With No Credit?

Yes. It is absolutely possible to secure a credit card without credit. However, your options might be more limited. You might not be able to secure a credit card that offers a long list of user benefits but you will have access to the line of credit.

Generally, premium credit cards that offer lucrative rewards programs are not available to consumers with bad credit. Although you will likely not have access to premium credit cards with bad credit, you might be able to open a less exclusive credit card. With that card, you’ll be able to build your credit over time.

Once you open this line of credit, it is important to maintain it responsibly. That includes making monthly payments on-time and keeping the balance as close to zero as possible. After you’ve shown lenders that you are capable of responsible credit usage, you’ll be able to open credit cards that offer more exciting features.

What To Look For When Getting A Credit Card

Without a credit history, you will not be able to secure an offer from every credit card. Even if you don’t have access to all of the credit cards on the market, you will need to find the best credit card for your situation. Every credit card out there comes with its own set of pros and cons. When you’re shopping around for a credit card with no credit, be sure to consider the following.

Annual Percentage Rate

Credit card APR refers to how much you’ll pay every year to borrow money on a credit card. While the ideal credit card APR is 0%, that’s not always realistic. Especially with no credit history, you should expect a higher than average APR.

If you can’t land a 0% APR credit card, try to find one with an APR in the single digits. However, the best way to avoid a ballooning balance due to high interest rates is to pay your balance in full every month. Although it is not always possible to pay off your balance in full every month, it can provide many benefits. When you make monthly payments on-time for the full balance each month, you are improving your credit score while avoiding the consequences of a high APR.

Rewards

Credit cards offer a wide variety of rewards. Some of the most common rewards include sign-up bonuses, cash back every time you use the credit card or pay off its balance, hotel or travel incentives and retail store rewards. Consider all of the reward options available and select a card that has the ideal rewards for your unique lifestyle. 

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t secure a credit card with all of your desired rewards yet. Typically, the most rewarding credit cards are available to borrowers with a good credit history. After you take the opportunity to build your credit score with another card, you may be able to sign up for the credit card with the rewards program that you’ve been eyeing. The key is to be patient and maintain responsible credit card usage while you wait.

Annual Fee

Unfortunately, not all credit cards are free to use. Some charge an annual fee that may range anywhere from $25 to more than $500. Since credit cards with high annual fees typically come with better rewards, they may be worth the investment. Do the math based on your average spending and figure out if it makes sense for you to invest in a card with a higher annual fee. 

Other Fees

In addition to an annual fee, most credit cards have many other types of fees. A few might include late payment fees, balance transfer fees, foreign transaction fees and more.

Find out what fees a credit card will impose on you before you choose to apply. Compare these fees to your lifestyle to determine whether the card is a good fit. For example, if you travel internationally often, then you will want to avoid cards with foreign transaction fees.

Credit Limit

The credit limit refers to the maximum amount of money you can spend on a credit card. If you hit this limit, then you will “max out” your card.

In most cases you can only secure a high credit limit if you have a strong credit history. This means that if you don’t have a credit history at all you can’t expect to get approved for a credit card with a $5,000 limit. You might only get approved for a few hundred dollars until you have a stronger credit history. As you build your credit history, you may have access to a higher credit line. It will take some time to build your credit history, but it will open doors to more rewarding credit cards and higher credit limits.

After all, the credit card issuers aren’t sure they can trust people with no credit because they haven’t proven that they can be responsible. Seeking out lower credit limits can be a good place to start your search for a credit card if you have no credit history.

How To Get A Credit Card With No Credit

If you’re determined to secure a credit card with bad credit, then it is completely possible. However, finding the right card might be more difficult if you have bad credit. Since lenders are less willing to trust you, it may take more effort, but it is possible. Here’s what you’ll need to do.

Check Your Credit Score

If you aren’t sure where your credit score stands, then you should take a minute to check it out. With a better understanding of your credit score, you’ll be able to find cards that match your credit level.

It’s a good idea to check your credit report a few times a year to stay on top of your financial well-being. You can expect your credit report to include details about your credit activity, payment history and accounts that have been opened and closed. By keeping a close eye on your credit, you can get an idea of the types of credit cards you may get approved for and make sure you haven’t forgotten about any outstanding balances on cards you currently have. 

Rocket HQSM offers an easy and free way to check your credit score.

Do Your Research

Choosing the right credit card is important no matter what your credit score is. In addition to comparing the features such as APR and rewards, check to see what credit scores the credit card issuer is willing to work with. If a credit card is designed for borrowers with good credit, then you can cross it off your list.

In the future, you may be able to secure a more exclusive credit card. But for now, you need to focus on building your credit history by managing your credit responsibly.

Apply To One Card At A Time

Once you’ve decided on a couple of credit cards that might work for you, rank them in order. Apply to your top pick first. Hopefully, you’ll be approved!

However, you should wait until you hear back from one credit card issuer before applying for a second. Otherwise your credit score could suffer based on a higher number of credit inquires. Slow down and apply to one at a time to avoid this.

How To Apply For A Credit Card With No Credit

In general, there are three types of credit cards you can get approved for when you have no or little credit history. Let’s take a closer look at each of them. 

Student Credit Cards

Student credit cards are specifically designed for college students and can be a great way for them to establish credit history. If you’d like a student credit card, you’ll likely need to meet the following criteria to get approved: 

  • You’re age 18 or over.
  • You’re currently a student.
  • You’re a U.S. citizen or a legal resident with a valid Social Security number.
  • You have documentable part-time or full-time income.

Store Credit Cards        

While store credit cards are easier to get approved for than traditional credit cards, they can usually only be used at particular retailers. You’ve likely been pitched at the checkout counter for at least a dozen store cards. Pick a store that offers a worthwhile rewards program for your needs.

Since store credit cards do report activity to credit agencies, they can be useful if you’re no longer a student and need a way to establish a credit history.

Secured Credit Cards

To apply for a secured credit card, you need to make a cash deposit that’s usually equal to your credit limit. Although it can be difficult to save enough money to open a secured credit card, it is one way to open a credit card if you don’t have good credit.

You may want to get a secured credit card if you aren’t a student and don’t have the need for a store credit card.

Other Ways To Get A Credit Card With No Credit

If you are having trouble getting approved for any credit cards with your bad credit, then you may need to change tactics. You are more likely to get approved for a credit card to build your credit history by having a cosigner on your credit card. Another option is to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. Finding a cosigner or becoming an authorized user can significantly improve your chances of securing a credit card with bad credit.

Here’s some information on both of these options. 

Cosigner On Your Credit Card

Generally, a cosigner will need to have an excellent credit history. When someone cosigns your credit card, they guarantee that they’ll pay your balance in full if you’re unable to pay it.

Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to find a cosigner. If you are unable to make your payments, then they will be on the hook for your debt. If they cannot afford to pay off your debts, then their credit score will tank. As a result, most people are wary about becoming a cosigner. However, some close family members or friends might be willing to take on that risk for you.

The benefit of being approved for a credit card with a cosigner is that as long as you pay the balance, you’ll be able to build your credit like you would if you didn’t have a cosigner.

Being An Authorized User

When you become an authorized user, you receive the ability to make purchases on someone else’s credit card account. You will not be the primary cardholder, but you should make every effort to be responsible with this line of credit.

Although most credit card companies allow authorized users, going this route will improve your credit history at a slower rate than if you were the sole owner of your own credit card.

The Bottom Line

While getting approved for a credit card with no credit does come with its challenges, it certainly is possible. Once you do get approved, be sure to use your card responsibly by paying off your balance in full and on time every month. Let your credit card help you establish a positive credit history and set yourself up for a healthy financial future.

If you are having trouble getting approved for a credit card with no credit, then it might be time to work on your credit score. A higher credit score can open doors to premium credit cards and higher credit limits. Head to the RocketHQ Learning Center to find out more about your credit score and work towards improving your credit for the future.

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Sarah Sharkey

Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer that enjoys helping readers learn more about their finances. She has an MS in Business Management from the University of Florida. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Instagram @adventurousadulting.