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Best Soft Pull Credit Cards of 2021

Rebuilding a bad credit score is tricky enough without the potential damage of a hard pull on your credit report. Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent secured credit cards that feature no hard pull on your credit report. These cards are known as “soft pull” credit cards. Here are some of the best soft pull credit cards of 2021.

What Does “Soft Pull” Mean?

First, a refresher into what type of credit cards we are covering here. A “soft pull” is a type of credit report check where a bank or card issuer pulls basic information from an applicant’s credit report without needing a deep dive. Soft pulls, also known as “soft inquiries” or a “soft credit check”, can occur without an applicant’s authorization (which isn’t required) and do not include a full look into a person’s credit reports.

Soft credit pulls happen for several reasons, including:

  • Checking your credit score via an online app, like Credit Karma
  • Credit card issuers checking for pre-approval offers
  • Employment checks when beginning a new job

Hard Pulls vs. Soft Pulls

  • The bank must get your consent first
  • Can impact your credit score
  • Lenders can see your entire available credit history
  • No prior consent needed
  • No credit score impact
  • Lenders can see basic information, such as late payments or credit utilization

Because a hard inquiry allows a lender to view your full credit report, these types of pulls lower your credit score in the short term. Hard inquiries will drop your credit score down for several months and remain on your credit report for 24 months (two years).

The total number of hard inquiries on your credit report is one of the factors lenders consider when reviewing applications for new credit.  Too many inquiries may indicate you are under financial strain and need more credit to manage your existing debts. This indication, in turn, can lead to a greater chance of applications being rejected.

What are the Benefits of a Soft Pull Credit Card?

Because a soft pull has no impact on your credit score, it is preferable to hard inquiries. Those with low credit scores can especially benefit from credit cards that only require a soft pull, since it may give them better chances of receiving new credit.

Getting a soft pull credit card allows those with sub-prime (or deep sub-prime) credit to gain access to new credit, improve their payment history, and decrease their credit utilization – all without the short-term impact of a credit check.

The Best Soft Pull Credit Cards of 2021

Here are our top soft credit pull / inquiry credit cards for 2021:

The Surge Secured Mastercard is one of the newest soft pull credit card offers available. Clicking the Apply Now button takes you to Surge’s secure pre-qualification page, where you can see if you qualify for one of the most exciting secured credit cards of 2021, with no effect on your credit score.

The Surge Secured Mastercard is a versatile rewards credit card that also helps you build credit with a security deposit that also acts as the line of credit. The card earns 1% cash back on all eligible purchases, making it one of the few cards in the market to provide rewards while building credit.

Very few secured cards offer any form of rewards, making the cash back with the Surge extra impressive. Even better, those rewards apply towards statement credits that can help you pay down your statement balance.

The other major feature of the Surge Secured Mastercard is the potential for credit limit increases with responsible usage. Many secured cards require an additional cash deposit for a bigger credit line. However, Celtic Bank, the Surge card’s issuer, may extend additional credit – without the need for an additional security deposit.

Related Article: 5 Reasons Why You Should Apply for the Surge Secured Mastercard

The Self Visa® Credit Card is an attractive soft pull card option in that it actually helps you build your credit score twice as fast as other cards on the market. How? Well, the Self Visa requires a  Self Credit Builder Account to get started.

Self’s Credit Builder Account is a unique loan product where individuals with no credit history or poor credit open a loan account to “pay off” the loan into a certificate of deposit (CD) account. Once that balance reaches $100, Self customers can choose to use those funds towards the security deposit with a Self Visa Card.

The Self Visa, like many excellent secured cards, reports to the major credit bureaus every month. This regular reporting to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion allows users to quickly raise their credit score through a series of on-time payments. Even better, since the cardholder already has a Seldf Credit Builder Account, they are having their timely payments reported twice – building their credit at double speed!

Related Article: 5 Reasons to Get the Self Visa Card

There are plenty of credit cards on the market for people with bad credit or no credit. One of the more popular options, however, is the OpenSky Secured Visa. Maybe the best reason to consider adding the OpenSky Visa credit card to your wallet is that it requires no credit check. The application process with the OpenSky Secured Visa is straightforward and takes just a few minutes. Decisions are equally quick, making the entire process as painless as possible.

Part of repairing damaged credit is learning the skills to use credit properly. OpenSky is excellent in this aspect, as it provides cardholders with free access to a credit knowledge base. The OpenSky credit education hub offers a range of articles on building credit. These topics include how to receive a free copy of your credit score, how credit scores are calculated, tips on boosting credit, and other advice related to the OpenSky card.

Other reasons why OpenSky is consistently included among the best soft pull credit card lists include the relatively low minimum deposit required and regular reporting to the three major credit bureaus.

Related Article: 7 Reasons Why You Should Consider Getting the OpenSky Secured Visa

Like the Surge Secured Mastercard, the Assent Platinum 0% Intro Rate Mastercard® is another secured card that offers a form of rewards. Unlike the Surge, the Assent Platinum Secured Card rewards take the form of a 0% introductory APR offer.

New cardholders receive 0% intro APR on purchases for six billing cycles – something almost unheard of with a secured credit card. Users can make a large purchase with the Assent and then pay down that buy over the next six months without any interest payments.

This intriguing sign-up bonus is ideal for those who are considering a major purchase but also want to repair their credit. Instead of using the funds for the big buy, they can instead use them to act as the security deposit and then make the purchase using their Assent Platinum Card. This process acts as a buy now, pay later service, and a credit repair service – all in one.

However, keep in mind that using the card’s entire balance for a purchase will significantly raise credit utilization, which is the second-largest impactor of a person’s FICO credit score. Instead, try using below 30% of your credit limit to help raise your credit score quickly.

Related Article: The Best 0% Intro APR Credit Cards of 2021

Honorable Mentions

Looking for more soft inquiry credit card options to consider? Here are two cards that just missed out on our top spots:

first progress select

First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

The very reasonable APR and annual fee make this card perfect for those who plan on paying their bills fully each month but want the versatility to carry a balance if needed. The Platinum Select is a well-rounded secured card that appeals to anyone who wants to repair their credit.

first progress prestige

First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard Secured Credit Card

The Platinum Prestige Mastercard Secured Credit Card is an excellent secured credit card option for those who want a great rate while building their credit. The Platinum Prestige offers the same low APR as the Applied Bank Card, with a reasonable annual fee of just $49.

Featured photo by Avelino Calvar Martinez/ Burst
About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is BestCards.com's "Jack of all trades" and resident credit expert, covering all facets of the credit card space. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.