2021

Best Credit Cards for People With No Credit

Trending in Credit
Verified by Fiscal Tiger experts
Author: Patty Lamberti

If you don’t have a credit score or history, don’t worry. Some credit cards treat credit newbies decently.  “The best way to use credit cards to build up your credit score is to set up one or two recurring charges and pay those in full every month,” Steinberg says.

Here are some of our favorite cards if you’re just starting (or starting anew):

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Fiscal Tiger's Score
4.9/5

Best for: People who don’t want a card with an annual fee and expect to pay off their balance in full every month.

APR
24.99%
Purchase intro APR
None
Rewards
None

Credit Card Basics

  • Annual fee: $0.
  • Late fee: $29 to 40.
  • 630-699.

Cons:

  • Those who have credit scores below 630 will likely not be approved.
  • The interest rate is fairly high.
  • No rewards.
Fiscal Tiger's Score
4.8/5

Best for: People with no or limited credit histories and are in need of funds – fast!

APR
36%
Purchase intro APR
None
Rewards
None

Credit Card Basics

  • Annual fee: $75 to $125 for the first year, around $45 after.
  • Late fee: $39.
  • Credit score: 300-639.

Cons:

  • One of the highest APRs in the industry.
  • One-time, monthly and yearly fees.
  • Fees are deducted from your initial credit line.
Fiscal Tiger's Score
4.6/5

Best for: People who want some rewards — right away!

APR
12.99% to 26.99% (variable)
Purchase intro APR
None
Rewards
Start at 1% immediately

Credit Card basics

  • Annual fee: $0.
  • Late fee: $40.
  • Credit score: Not the only factor in acceptance.

Cons:

  • No cash advances.
  • Monthly due date is set by the creditor and not changeable.
Fiscal Tiger's Score
4.2/5

Best for: People who use credit cards in other countries and want to avoid foreign transaction fees.

APR
26.99%
Purchase intro APR
N/A
Rewards
None

Credit Card Basics

  • Annual fee: $0.
  • Late fee: $39.
  • Credit score: Poor to Fair (300-670).

Cons:

  • As with other secured credit cards, you’ll need to pay a refundable security deposit to get access to a line of credit. But your deposit doesn’t have to be the same amount as your limit. For example, you may need to pay a deposit of just $49 for a credit line of $200.
  • There will be a credit and an employment check. Credit checks lower scores, and you may not qualify for this card if you don’t have steady work.
  • The APR is high.
  • You must have a bank account — whether that’s checking or savings.
  • No rewards.
Fiscal Tiger's Score
4.4/5

Best for: People who want cash back, instead of typical rewards like points or miles.

APR
24.99%
Rewards
1.5% cash back on everything
Annual fee
$0

Credit Card Basics

  • Late fee: $40.
  • Sign-on bonus: $200 cash back if you spend $500 within three months.
  • Credit score: 700 or higher.

Cons:

  • Not a great card if you plan on carrying a balance most months – The APR is fairly high.
  • High credit score required.
Fiscal Tiger's Score
4.3/5

Best for: People whose income fluctuates and may need cash in a hurry but could pay off balances quickly too (like real estate flippers).

APR
6.99% to 29.99%
Purchase intro APR
None
Rewards
1.5% unlimited cash back on card purchases every time you make a payment

Credit Card Basics

  • Annual fee: $0.
  • Late fee: $0.
  • Credit score: 700 or above.

Cons:

  • Like a personal loan, the minimum monthly required payments may be higher than a traditional credit card.
Fiscal Tiger's Score
4.2/5

Best for: People who don’t even want to bother with a credit check and have some cash to put down towards a refundable deposit.

APR
17.39% (variable)
Purchase intro APR
None
Rewards
None

Credit Card Basics

  • Annual fee: $35.
  • Late fee: Up to $38.
  • Credit score: Poor (300-689).

Cons:

  • You must have some cash in hand for that refundable deposit.
  • Some fees including a 3% foreign transaction fee, a cash advance fee of $6 or 5% of the cash withdrawn.
  • No perks. Some other refundable deposit cards offer at least some cash back.
Fiscal Tiger's Score
4.0/5

Best for: Students with no credit history.

APR
18.74% (variable)
Purchase intro APR
None
Rewards
1% cash back

Credit Card Basics

  • Annual fee: $0.
  • Late fee: Up to $25.

Cons:

  • No special introductory rate.
  • You’ll be charged 18.74% interest on any balances due after the end of the first billing cycle.
  • Make sure you have enough money in your bank account when you pay your balance. Deserve charges $37 for a returned payment.
  • Need some cash during a study-abroad trip? This card won’t help you. They don’t allow cash advances.
Fiscal Tiger's Score
4.1/5

Best for: People who have declared bankruptcy or have other boo-boos on their credit report.

APR
11.99% to 18.99%
Purchase intro APR
None
Rewards
None

Credit Card Basics

  • Annual fee: $49.
  • Late fee: $38.
  • Credit score: Any (300 and up).

Cons:

  • You’ll be charged an annual fee of $49.
  • This card isn’t available to people whose primary residence is in Arkansas, Iowa, New York, or Wisconsin.
  • You need to link the card to a checking account, which isn’t always available to people with bad credit.
  • No rewards.
Fiscal Tiger's Score
4.0/5

Best for: People with poor credit who want a credit card but don’t want to pay a security deposit.

APR
34.99%
Rewards
None
Annual fee
$48 to $75

Credit Card Basics

  • Late fee: $40.
  • Credit score: Any (300 and up).

Cons:

  • $89 one-time fee is due upon opening of the account.
  • $75 fee the first year, $48 thereafter.
  • In the second year, monthly service fees of $6.25 begin.
  • High APR.
  • No cash advance for the first year.
  • Bank account required.

If you’ve never had a credit card, you may be thinking, “This is great. When I do want a credit card or loan, companies will give me a great rate because I’ve proved I’ve never bought anything I can’t pay for in cash.”

Unfortunately, that’s not true.

“In order to have a top credit score, you need to prove you are a good credit risk — that means you have to actually use credit, and use it responsibly,” says Michele Steinberg, a Financial Consultant with LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor and fee-based financial planning organization.

To be clear — we’re not advising you to apply for all of these cards.

“Running up a bunch of credit card debt won’t improve your score,” Steinberg says.  “But creditors, the people who will loan you money, want to see that you can take on debt and pay it off. If you have zero debt, you do not look trustworthy.”

 

Don’t Have Any Credit History? You’re Not Alone.

A study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that one in 10 Americans don’t have a credit score because they’ve never carried any debt. All together, 11% of Americans are “credit invisible,” a term that means a person doesn’t have a credit history or score with any of the three major credit bureaus used in the United States

Another 19 million Americans have a credit history, but don’t officially have a credit score because those lines of credit or loans are from too long ago — or were started too recently — for creditors to judge the person’s repayment skills. 

Having a good credit score is important. Credit scores tell companies what debt a person owes to other companies, if they have anything in collections and how well they repay loans.

Having no credit score can make it hard, if not impossible, to:

  • Find credit cards with perks like points or cash back
  • Get low-interest-rate credit cards.
  • Obtain loans with good interest rates for cars, houses, schools, and more.
  • Rent an apartment without putting down a larger-than-normal security deposit or pre-paying months in advance.
  • Get certain jobs, especially those that require overseeing money.

 

There are many reasons why people don’t have a credit history, and therefore, a decent credit score, including:

  • Falsely believing that not having any debt will demonstrate financial prudence to future lenders.
  • Moving from a country that doesn’t rely on credit scores tabulated by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
  • Simply being too young to have a long credit history — your repayment record is a big factor in determining your credit score.

 

Without a good credit score, which Experian says is above 669, you’re often forced to take high-interest credit cards and loans that sometimes charge annual and/or monthly fees.