The world of credit can seem scary.
Did you notice I used the word seem? That’s because, between you and me, it really isn’t as intimidating as your contemporaries would have you believe.
Take it from someone (me!) who has a 750+ credit score, and has never actively done things to improve it. Except for being responsible, that’s it.
“But Joshua, how do I get a credit card with no credit history?“
I’m glad you asked. You are taking the time to invest in yourself, and for that I applaud you!
It may seem difficult to get a credit card with no credit history. I’ve been there, done that, and have the shirt to prove it.
On one hand, you need a credit card to build your credit history, on the other hand, credit card issuers won’t give you a credit card without some credit history. ?
How do you get around this?
I’m going to share with you 8 totally legit ways to get a credit card with no credit history. And yes, all of them actually do work.
1. Get a job
If you don’t have a job, you are likely not earning any income—at least this is what credit card issuers assume.
Credit card issuers need to know that you are making money so that you can pay off your credit balances; otherwise, they see you as a risk.
Would you lend money to that strange uncle of yours who never has a job and sits at home all day watching public access TV? Likely not. It’s no different from credit card companies. If you don’t have a job, they see you as a weird aunt or uncle ?.
What counts as a “job”?
I do want to clarify that a “job” doesn’t necessarily have to mean a 9-5.
If you are hustling and making money in other ways, this counts, long as you can prove the income.
Here are a few examples of things that would be considered income:
- Part-time or full-time job (obviously)
- Investment income (stock dividends, rental property income, etc.)
- Social security payments
- Pension payments
- Gifts or trust fund payments
- Child support
It’s also important to note that if you are over 21, you can list the income of your parents, spouse, relatives, or anyone else in your household as your income long as you have reasonable access to their money.
If you are under 21, the income you put on your credit card application must be your own.
Having a job or a source of income will definitely increase your odds of being able to get a credit card with no credit history.
But if you don’t have a job or a source of income, there are other options.
2. Get a secured credit card
Back when I was in high school, my first ever credit card was one of these babies—a secured credit card.
Secured credit cards are my favorite way to get a credit card with no credit history.
These cards are basically a credit card with training wheels. They look like this:
The “training wheels” in this metaphor is the initial deposit you have to make when you open the secured credit card.
That’s right—with a secured credit card, you have to make an initial deposit to get a credit limit. This means if you want a $200 credit limit, you have to deposit $200.
The bank holds onto this deposit and extends a credit line matching the deposit amount.
“Joshua, you’re telling me I have to PAY the bank money to get a credit card?”
I wouldn’t look at it that. And to be clear, the bank doesn’t keep your deposit forever (more on that soon).
Besides, if the only way you can get a credit card with no credit history is to get a secured credit card, then you have to be willing to temporarily part ways with your money.
A significant advantage of a secured credit card is that your credit history will always be protected if you make a late payment.
Remember when you made that initial cash deposit to get your line of credit?
If you miss a credit card payment, the bank will use your deposit to pay the balance, thus protecting you from any missed payment dings (which can severely hurt your credit score).
Graduating from secured to unsecured credit card
When I was first getting started in the world of credit, I deposited $300 into my secured credit card for a $300 line of credit.
After several months of consistent use and on-time payments, the bank “graduated” me.
Graduating means your secured credit card converts into an unsecured credit card. You keep your line of credit, but your initial deposit is returned back to you. It’s the bank’s way of saying, “We trust you a little more.”
And by the way, in case you’re wondering, there wasn’t a special ceremony or anything for graduating, just an email.
Get a secured credit card that reports to the credit bureaus
I should mention this now before you waste your time—not all secured credit cards report to the major credit reporting bureaus.
Imagine you’ve been responsibly using your secured credit card for a full year. You’ve been buying small things here and there, and paying your balance in full and on time each month.
Undoubtedly your credit score should have increased substantially by now!
You sign up for a free account at Credit Karma so that you can check your credit score. You log in and discover that your credit score hasn’t moved an inch! WHAT!? ??
Let me save you the trouble of that unpleasant scenario by giving you the following advice.
Make sure your card issuer actually reports to the credit card reporting companies. You wouldn’t want to be using the card for months only to find out that your bank or creditor isn’t reporting your usage.
Most secured credit cards do report to the major credit reporting bureaus, but confirm this before you sign up for a card.
Most credit card issuers will specify if they report to the major credit reporting bureaus. If you can’t find this information, give the credit card issuer a call.
3. Get an unsecured credit card
What’s different about an unsecured credit card versus a secured credit card—other than the un?
For starters, unsecured credit cards are much closer to traditional credit cards (AKA, the credit card you wish you could be approved for but can’t because you have zero credit history).
To make this comparison easy to understand, I’ve created a lovely chart below.
|Type of card||Credit history required||Rewards||Interest rates|
|Secured credit cards||No||None||Low|
|Unsecured credit cards||No||None||Very high|
|Traditional credit cards||Yes||A lot||Low – High|
As you can see, unsecured credit cards typically have much higher interest rates, no rewards, and small lines of credit.
However, they are a great option if you aren’t interested in having to make a cash deposit like with a secured credit card.
After all, you are just trying to build up your credit history. Credit card rewards, high lines of credit, low-interest rates—none of this should really matter right now.
What are the best unsecured credit cards?
Unsecured credit cards allow you to take advantage of a credit card with no credit history.
Unfortunately, if I’m being 100% honest with you (which I always am), there aren’t a lot of good unsecured credit cards out there that I would recommend.
The absolute best unsecured credit card is the Capital One Platinum Card.
This card will also give you a higher line of credit after you make 5 monthly on-time payments.
Just don’t get to carried away with your higher line of credit.
The disadvantages of an unsecured credit card
Don’t be fooled. They don’t call unsecured credit cards unsecure for no reason.
Unlike with a secured credit card where you can only spend the amount that you have deposited—an unsecured credit card gives you a line of credit without having to make an initial deposit.
This means you are now responsible for any late payments, fees, and interest charges on unpaid balances.
I don’t mean to scare you, but late payments are very bad for your credit score and stay on your credit history for 7 years, and fees and interest charges add up fast.
However, if you are a responsible person (which you are), then you don’t have to worry about any of that. An unsecured credit card is probably perfect for you.
4. Get a student credit card
If you’re a student ? (and can prove it) and want to get a credit card with no credit history, then you have nothing to lose by applying for a student credit card.
My first credit card was a secured credit card, and from there I was able to build up my credit enough to be approved for a traditional credit card.
So although I personally have never used student credit cards, it was only because I didn’t know they existed at the time.
That doesn’t change my recommendation for them.
In fact, I would highly recommend you apply for a student credit card over a secured and unsecured credit card.
Why get a student credit card
Many students are able to get a credit card with no credit history by applying for a student credit card.
What makes these cards so great is that many of them have similar perks and rewards to traditional credit cards.
Amazingly enough, some student credit cards will even pay you for getting good grades.
? First of all, I would have never gotten this perk, because, I never had good grades (keep that between you and me) ?.
But seriously, the Discover It Chrome for Students card will pay you $20 for each school year that your GPA is a 3.0 or higher.
That same card also has great cashback rewards and other perks.
But besides all the benefits of perks, what other reasons should you get a student credit card if you want to get a credit card with no credit history?
Like with the unsecured credit card, student credit cards do not require an initial deposit which is ideal for most people.
But also like with an unsecured credit card, student credit cards do carry the same risks—you are responsible for any late payments, fees, and interest charges on unpaid balances.
In case I haven’t made this clear at any other point in this article—you have to be responsible when using credit cards.
Please… please… please… do not end up like the millions of American’s who are tens of thousands of dollars in high-interest credit card debt because they are irresponsible.
You probably already know this, because you are smart and responsible (I know this about you because you are reading this article here). But it bears repeating:
- Do not spend on your credit card what you cannot afford to pay off immediately.
- Do not carry balances month after month.
- Do not max out your line of credit.
If you avoid all of these, then you’ll be in good shape.
Which student credit card is best
Unlike with an unsecured credit card, which doesn’t have a lot of great options, student credit cards have a lot of awesome options.
This means if you are wanting to get a credit card with no credit history, you have plenty to choose from (long as you’re a student).
I’ve listed below some of the best student credit cards that you can get.
Discover It® Student Cash Back
Discover It® Student Chrome
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card
Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students
I’m not going to give a detailed analysis of each credit card, because that’s not the purpose of this article, but understand that you can’t go wrong with any of them.
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5. Get a store credit card
I’m going to be very upfront with you. I don’t like store credit cards.
I contemplated for a while whether or not I should add it to this list or not.
After some thinking, I decided that if you want to get a credit card with no credit history, store credit cards are still a viable way to build your credit if you don’t have many options.
Because I want to make sure you are making the best financial decisions, I would highly recommend that you first try applying for a secured or unsecured credit card.
And if you’re a student, then definitely apply for a student credit card before you apply for a store credit card.
Although store credit cards aren’t my personal favorite, if you’re an avid shopper, then you can take advantage of building your credit using a store credit card.
I mean, if you’re going to spend money at a store, then you might as well build your credit at the same time, right?
Many department stores, retail chains, grocery stores, and gas stations offer credit cards.
It’s important to mention that not all store credit cards play fair—in other words, you will not able to get approved for all of them.
Some store credit cards, such as the Walmart credit card, require a credit history and at least a fair credit score.
What are the best store credit cards
Your best bet if you want to get a credit card with no credit history is to use closed-loop store credit cards.
“Joshua, what is a closed-loop store credit card?”
A closed-loop store credit card means that you can only use that credit card in that store. Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you have an Old Navy closed-loop store credit card. Since the card is closed-loop, you would only be able to use it at Old Navy.
You wouldn’t be able to go to Target and use your Old Navy credit card at Target.
In other words—if you are applying for a closed-loop store credit card, it better be at a store that you shop at a lot.
6. Become an authorized user
Becoming an authorized user is perhaps the easiest way in the world to get a credit card with no credit history.
However, there’s a caveat—becoming an authorized user can either be really awesome or horribly tragic for your credit history. I know that may sound a little over the top, but let me explain.
First, let’s talk about how becoming an authorized user works.
If you know someone who has excellent credit, you can become an authorized user on one of their credit cards (with their consent, of course).
In doing this, you will receive a physical credit card that is directly linked to their account.
Benefits of being an authorized user on a credit card
So what’s the upside to becoming an authorized user?
The first upside is that if you are wanting to get a credit card with no credit history, there is no better way to bypass having to build your credit history first before you can get a traditional credit card.
You see—if you wanted to get approved for a traditional credit card with awesome rewards and perks, you would have to build your credit history first.
This means you would have to start off using some less desirable credit cards such as secured, unsecured, student, and store credit cards.
However, by becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card, you are granted the same benefits they have, including the awesome credit card with great rewards and perks.
Another amazing benefit of becoming an authorized user is that you are able to establish your credit history even if you aren’t using the credit card.
I know, it’s pretty awesome.
As long as the primary user of the credit card is actively using it, paying it off on time, and not carrying huge, then you will continue to benefit from it.
It sounds like the perfect situation. Sign me up!
But wait, there’s also a downside…
Why being an authorized user can be bad
Just like you benefit from the primary card user actively using the credit card responsibly, you are also on the line for any unresponsible use.
Wait a second…
That’s right. This means if the primary card user is missing payments and maxing out their line of credit, not only will their credit score take a hit, but so will yours.
And yes, even if it isn’t your fault, you are still held accountable.
Likewise, if the primary card user has good credit, and you start maxing out your credit card while being an authorized user on their credit card, then you can damage their credit score.
As you can see, becoming an authorized user is a great way to get a credit card with no credit history, but it’s a double-edged sword.
There has to be mutual trust between both the primary card user and the authorized user. Both have to be responsible credit card users or else both pay the price of damaged credit history.
7. Get a co-signer
Frankly, this is very similar to becoming an authorized user on a credit card.
Getting someone with good credit to co-sign on your credit card application increases your chances of being approved for a traditional credit card.
Think of a co-signer as collateral.
If you get a credit card and begin maxing out your credit line and not paying off the balances (which YOU wouldn’t do because you’re much smarter than that), then your co-signer becomes liable for that debt.
So once again, there has to be mutual trust between both of you.
Also, for those of you who enjoy your privacy (most of us do), you may want to look the other way.
You are sacrificing your privacy if you decide to bring on a co-signer. The co-signer will have access to your purchases, credit card usage, and other financial information that you may not want them to see.
Imagine your mom snooping on your purchases and sending you a text message saying, “Joseph why did you spend $89 at the bar last night? You better pay that off!”
However, if you have nothing to hide and don’t care if your mom has access to your purchases, credit card usage, and other financial information, then consider getting a co-signer.
8. Get a credit-builder loan
Although there are better ways to get a credit card with no credit history than by using a credit-builder loan, it’s still a viable option.
Many financial institutions, typically credit unions, offer credit-builder loans.
The way a credit-builder loan works is that the bank deposits a loan into a locked savings account. Then, you begin paying off the loan over time, usually between 6 to 24 months.
It’s important that you make each payment on-time, otherwise, you defeat the purpose of the loan. If you are late on payments, it will have a negative effect on your credit history.
And of course, once the loan is paid in full, you get your money back.
“But Joshua, what’s the point of getting a credit-builder loan when I can just get a personal loan instead?”
Great question, it shows you’re thinking!
Credit-builder loans are specifically designed for people who have bad or no credit.
Most personal loans typically require good to excellent credit and proof of income.
So if you are trying to get a credit card with no credit history and you are not able or interested in getting any of the other options above, then getting a credit-builder loan is a good option for you.