2023’s Best Credit Cards for Limited or No Credit

Best Pick For: Earning Rewards

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Card

Do you think you have to pick between a secured card or a rewards card? The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Card says – No, you don’t. It offers both cards in one handy package.

Unlike most cards, you’ll get to choose your own 3% category from a nice selection, including the online shopping.

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Secured card requires a security deposit to be approved. The amount you deposit will help determine your credit limit.

Runner up

  1. Secured Sable ONE Credit Card

Best Pick For: Introductory Bonus

Discover it® Secured

The Discover it® Secured is our pick for the best secured credit card. Rather than punishing you for having no credit, this card actually has a decent cash rewards program, with a great intro bonus.

You’ll need to make a minimum security deposit of $200, with a maximum of $2,500.

Discover will review your credit card account every eight months. If these automatic reviews show responsible card use on this and other accounts, Discover may return your security deposit and allow you to keep using the card.

There’s no option to upgrade the Discover it Secured to an unsecured card. Instead, cardholders need to apply for a different Discover card.

Best Pick For: Low Security Deposit

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is a good pick if you want to pay the lowest security deposit possible.

The minimum required security deposit you pay will depend on your creditworthiness — like income and rent payments. The deposit will be one of three amounts:

  • $49
  • $99
  • $200

No matter which amount you’re required to deposit, your credit limit will be $200. So you may end up paying just $49 for a $200 limit, if Capital One decides you’re worth the risk.

The maximum security deposit for the Capital One Secured card is $1,000.

Best Pick For: No Annual Fee

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

You don’t need to be a student to apply for the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One, despite the name.

This rewards credit card is designed for average or limited credit. But you may have a chance of being approved with no credit history, especially if you have a decent income and solid employment history.

Best Pick For: Unsecured, Low Fee

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card was designed for people with fair or average credit histories, though it may also be accessible for people with limited or no credit.

You will get relatively easy access to a higher credit line, but other features are limited. You can use this card to help build up your credit scores and eventually qualify for a sweet rewards credit card.

Best Pick For: Easy Acceptance

Petal® 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa® Card

The Petal® 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa® Card is specifically designed to help you break into the world of credit. How?

Even if you have no established credit history at all, with no credit scores, you still have a chance at approval. Why?

Because Petal will take a look at your “full financial picture.” This means you’ll have to link your bank account to Petal, so it can see how you handle your money. 

If you do have some established credit, Petal will check it with a hard inquiry, and in this case you may not have to link your bank account.

You won’t find any fees here, apart from potential interest fees. No annual fee, foreign transaction fee, late payment fee, etc. And you can avoid interest fees, too, by always paying your statement balance in full.

This card even has a solid cash back rewards program, where you can earn more by making on-time payments. Overall, it’s an excellent and inexpensive option for improving your credit scores.

Best Pick For: No Credit Check

Secured Sable ONE Credit Card

Having a tough time qualifying for credit cards? You may have to think about the Secured Sable ONE Credit Card, which requires no credit check. 

Bear in mind, though, that no-credit-check cards like this one are usually seen as a last resort.

No credit check means Sable won’t look at your credit reports when you apply, giving you an opportunity to qualify, even if you’re dealing with terrible credit. And that means no hard credit inquiry, which is a good thing for your credit.

This is a secured card, and it requires a deposit of up to $10,000 to get started. Your credit line will be equal to the amount you deposit.

Runner up

  • OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Best Pick For: Students

Discover it® Student Cash Back

If you’re a student with limited or no credit, your first look should be to the Discover it® Student Cash Back. With excellent cash back rates and terms, it’s a great rewards card in general, not just a great student card.

The rewards program is just like the non-student version, the Discover it® Cash Back. The benefits are the same, except the student version gives you a little bonus for having good grades.

It’s easy to stay fee-free. With no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee, this card could be completely free to use if you avoid interest charges by always paying your balance in full.

Runners up

  • Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for Students
  • Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Discover it® Student Chrome
  • Chase Freedom® Student credit card
  • Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

Best Pick For: Student Travelers

Bank of America Travel Rewards® Credit Card for Students

If you’re a student who needs a card for quick trips home, or for a handy payment method when you’re traveling overseas, the Bank of America Travel Rewards® Credit Card for Students could fit the bill.

For no annual fee you’ll get solid rewards, with an above-average 1.5X points for non-category purchases. And if you can plan your travel through the Bank of America Travel Center you’ll earn double that, which translates to a 3% cash back equivalent.

You’ll pay no foreign transaction fees either, a handy feature for anyone on a trip outside the country.

Best Pick For: International Students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students is unique. It has two features that make it more accessible for international students than the average card:

  • You don’t need a Social Security number (SSN) to apply.
  • Deserve will check more than the usual factors to determine your creditworthiness, like education, financial health, future employability, and earning potential. (But Deserve will need to connect to your bank account.)

So if you haven’t started building up your credit in the U.S. yet, or you have a thin credit profile, you’ll still have a decent shot at approval with the Deserve® Edu.

To qualify, international students will need their student visa, passport ID, school document (e.g. I-20 or DS 2019), and proof of a U.S. bank account balance.

Best Pick For: Professional Immigrants to the U.S.

Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®

Relocating to the U.S. comes with a set of challenges, one of which is how to start building up your credit. How do you get approved for credit cards and other financial products if you don’t yet have an established credit history?

The Jasper Cash Back Mastercard® was designed to fill that gap for professional immigrants, lowering the traditional barriers to entry. You don’t need a credit history to get approved, and you don’t need a SSN to apply. However, you will need to get a SSN and provide it to Jasper within 60 days of card activation. In addition, if you’ve been living in the U.S. for at least a year, you’ll need to undergo a credit check and provide an SSN to apply.

You can also apply for this card before you even land in the U.S. — you can submit an application up to 60 days in advance, or check to see if you’re prequalified if your move date is further away.

While the Jasper card was originally created to help immigrants, anyone in the U.S. with limited or no credit can use it to help improve his or her credit scores.

Best Pick For: Self Credit Builder Loan Customers

Self Secured Visa® Credit Card

Self is a company that provides credit builder loans, a special type of loan where the sole purpose is to help you improve your credit scores. It’s like a reverse loan — first you make all your loan payments, showing a responsible payment record, then you get the funds.

Enter the Self Secured Visa® Credit Card. It’s a unique card, only available to eligible Self customers in good standing.

The great thing about this card is that if you follow all the steps below, there’s no chance of denial (and no hard inquiry either). That makes it an easy catch.

The application process is relatively straightforward:

  1. Have an open Credit Builder Account
  2. Make at least three on-time monthly payments in a row
  3. Make at least $100 in payments on your Credit Builder Account
  4. Make sure you’re all caught up on fees
  5. Choose your credit limit and request your card. Your credit limit can’t be any more than your Credit Builder Account balance
  6. Pay the annual fee

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get a credit card with no (or limited) credit?

Quite a few credit cards are available to those with limited credit or no credit history whatsoever.

Secured credit cards are among the best options. You have to provide a refundable security deposit up front, which can be an obstacle. But that’s expected, since the lender’s taking a significant risk by lending to someone with minimal credit history. Secured cards usually still involve a credit check, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be approved.

Unsecured cards designed for limited credit exist, but good options are rare, and you still have to meet certain criteria. The Petal® 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa® Card, for example, uses your bank account information to determine whether you qualify. Then there’s the Self Secured Visa® Credit Card. It doesn’t require a credit check, but you have to be a Self Credit Builder Account customer to qualify. You may be able to qualify for certain student cards, too.

Those are just a few examples. When choosing a card, browse carefully and look for a card that makes sense with your current situation. Some cards designed for no credit are known for obnoxious fees and poor customer service, so you’ll want to know what you’re getting yourself into before you apply.

What’s the best credit card for people with limited or no credit?

The answer depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re OK with paying a refundable security deposit, consider the Discover it® Secured. This card grants you 2% back on your first $1,000 spent quarterly at restaurants and gas stations and 1% on everything else. It’s rare for a secured card to be so rewarding, and because it’s a secured card, it should be quite easy to get.

Hoping to find an unsecured card you qualify for? Look into the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One. You’ll rack up flat-rate rewards on every purchase, and anyone can apply, even if you’re not a student.

If easy approval is important to you, check out the Petal® 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa® Card. Your credit can be used during the approval process, but if you haven’t built any, don’t worry. You’ll likely be asked to connect your bank account so the issuer can make a decision based on your financial situation.

Other options include:

  • No annual fee: Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
  • Secured, low deposit: Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
  • Professional immigrants to the U.S.: Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®

What are the best credit cards for students with no credit?

Most student cards involve a credit check, but you can still be approved even if you’re working with limited to no credit. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s possible.

Some of our favorite student credit cards include:

  • Discover it® Student Cash Back: An unsecured card that includes the Discover it® Cash Back renowned 5% cash back on rotating categories (up to $1,500 per quarter, then 1%), plus a host of benefits at no annual fee.
  • Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for Students: An unsecured card with a customizable cash back rewards program and a solid introductory bonus.
  • Bank of America Travel Rewards® Credit Card for Students: An unsecured card that earns solid rewards on travel purchases through the Bank of America travel center and provides a strong welcome offer.
  • Journey Student Rewards from Capital One: An unsecured card that grants you 1.25% back on every purchase, as long as you pay your bill on time (which should always be the case.
  • Deserve® Edu Mastercard: An unsecured card available to international students. The issuer uses factors ranging from your financial health to your education to determine whether you qualify. Plus, instead of using a SSN, you can provide your student visa, passport ID, school document (e.g. I-20 or DS 2019), and proof of a U.S. bank account balance when you apply.
  • Discover it® Secured: A secured card that’s surprisingly rewarding, offering cash back and a handful of benefits.

Are there any credit cards for limited/no credit that don’t require a deposit?

Yes, there are. But if you’re not providing a deposit, you’ll typically have to meet some other requirements instead. Our top picks include:

  • Journey Student Rewards from Capital One: As with most student cards, you may be able to get this card even with little to no credit, and you don’t actually have to be a student to apply. This card’s meager reward rate isn’t huge, but for an unsecured card that’s available with no deposit, this is about as good as it gets.
  • Capital One Platinum Credit Card: This relatively featureless unsecured card is designed for individuals with limited credit, but there’s a chance you may be approved even with no credit.
  • Petal® 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa® Card: Petal explores your “full financial picture” to determine whether applicants qualify. If you’ve built some credit, you’ll have to deal with a hard inquiry, but if not, you can still apply. You might be asked to connect your bank account during the application process, so the issuer can get a better idea of your money habits.

Are there any instant approval credit cards for people with no credit?

Most traditional cards will provide a decision moments after you apply. So, by definition, most credit cards designed for applicants with limited or no credit qualify as “instant approval credit cards.”If it’s guaranteed you’re looking for, you’ll have to be careful. These kinds of cards are out there, but they’re often associated with high fees, confusing terms, poor benefits, and frustrating customer support.

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