If you don’t have a perfect FICO Score, have experienced bankruptcy or other financial hardship, or are just new to credit entirely, there are plenty of excellent credit options that can help you improve your financial health and build credit with responsible use. Building credit takes time and dedication – but offers numerous benefits. While qualifying for your first credit card may seem complicated, some credit card options are more accessible to apply for than others. Here are some of our top picks for the easiest credit cards to get for bad or poor credit scores or no credit history:
Credit Card Picks Summary
Secured Credit Cards
For those who think they can’t get an unsecured card. A secured credit card is their best option. Secured cards work by requiring a cash deposit to open, which acts as the security for the spending limit upon approval. Typically, this deposit also serves as the spending limit for the card.
This means a $1,000 deposit equals a $1,000 limit. The deposit depends on the applicants and how much they can afford to put down, though many cards require a minimum of at least $200.
What Makes a Good Secured Credit Card?
When looking for secured credit cards to improve credit, there are certain things to consider. First, note the minimum deposit. This deposit is what makes a secured card “secured.” The minimum deposit varies significantly and can distinguish between a good option and a bad one.
Look for a secured card with a minimum deposit of $200. This deposit level makes the card much more affordable for those with limited access to funds.
Here’s what to look for in a secured card:
- Modest annual fee (lower than $79)
- Low minimum deposit ($200 is a reasonable minimum)
- A purchase APR below the national average (lower than 18% APR)
- Regular reporting to the major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
Secured Cards with No Credit Check
“No Credit Check” credit cards are something of a misleading term. When a card offer says no credit check is needed, what they mean is no hard inquiry.
Credit checks break down into two categories: hard inquiries and soft inquiries. A hard inquiry is when a lender pulls one of your credit reports to see your entire credit history. These inquiries are what most credit card, mortgage, and other loan applications require. A hard inquiry will show up on your credit report and will remain there for about two years.
A soft inquiry, in comparison, doesn’t require a full pull of your credit. When a lender does a soft pull, they check your basic credit information. These pulls occur when you check your credit score through free apps, or when a potential employer runs a background check. Soft inquiries don’t impact your credit score.
Chime Credit Builder Visa® Secured Card
Secured Cards with Credit Limit Increases - No Additional Deposit Required
Having subprime credit doesn’t mean you can’t earn enjoy the benefits of unsecured credit. Some cards offer the chance to make the jump from secured to unsecured credit with a credit line increase. These credit limit increases don’t require any additional security deposit – meaning they transform for a secured card to a mix of secured and unsecured. The benefits of cards like these include the chance to gain access to additional credit without having to break the bank.
The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Secured Credit Card is the exciting member of the Chime family. The card is unique because it is a charge card ties to a direct deposit, meaning cardholders won’t have to worry about late fees or missed payments. Even better, Chime regularly reports payment history to the major credit bureaus. This regular reporting is essential for building a good credit score – fast!
Merrick Bank Double Your Line® Secured Credit Card
The Merrick Bank Double Your Line® Secured Credit Card is a useful tool for boosting your credit score thanks to its Double Your Line feature. The card requires an initial security deposit of $200. Once cardholders make each of their first seven months, they will automatically have their credit line raised to $400 – without the need to add more funds through additional security deposits. This credit line increase is the perfect motivational tool on your credit journey – and can help you take the first step towards a brighter future with unsecured credit in as little as seven months.
Low APR Secured Cards
One of the great features of secured credit cards is that they typically feature a lower purchase APR than credit cards for fair (or average) credit. According to BestCards statistics, the average APR for a secured card is currently around 18%, while the average rate for a credit card for those with fair credit is around 26%. The reason for secured credit cards offering lower rates is because the security deposit requirement makes the cardholder less of a risk to lenders than the holder of an unsecured credit card.
Despite the decent rates many secured cards offer, maybe you are looking for an easy credit card with a low APR? Don’t worry – there are several excellent credit card options that offer the easy application of a secured card and the low interest rates that make carrying a balance a breeze!
Other Secured Cards with Low APR
|First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard®||Applied Bank Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Card|
|A discharged bankruptcy still in your credit bureau file will not cause you to be declined||Absolutely No Credit Check or Minimum Credit Score Required|
|Quick and Complete Online Application; No credit inquiry required!||Automatic Reporting to All Three National Credit Bureaus|
|Monthly Reporting to all 3 Major Credit Bureaus||Activate Today with a $200 Minimum Deposit – Maximum $1,000|
Other Secured Cards with No Credit Check
First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard®
OpenSky® Secured Visa®
Self Visa® Secured Credit Card
First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard®
Unsecured Credit Cards
Before diving into the candidates, let’s define what “bad” is. According to the FICO Score model, a credit score below 580 is considered a “bad” or “poor”. A bad or subprime score on your credit report can impact all aspects of a person’s life, from housing to purchasing a car, and more. Now that the terms are understood, what are the picks for kick-starting the rebuilding process?
When people begin their search, they will usually come across “unsecured” cards. These are your typical payment method; they don’t require a security deposit and extend a line of credit to the cardholder. Ideally, this is what you want when you’re just starting out. For college students a student credit card may be another option. So, what are some of the best unsecured credit cards for low credit with no deposit?
Credit Cards That Offer Credit Line Increase
Improving credit requires maintaining a low credit utilization ratio. Credit use accounts for nearly one-third of your FICO Score, making it the second-largest impactor on how a credit score is determined. Some credit cards offer a chance at a credit line increase for being responsible and making your payments on time each month.
Merrick Bank Double Your Line® Mastercard®
Increase your credit limit in just seven months with the Merrick Bank Double Your Line® Mastercard®. The card offers the opportunity to automatically double your credit line with seven on-time payments after opening an account – for an annual fee as low as $0.
Other Cards That Offer Credit Limit Increases
|Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card||Applied Bank® Unsecured Classic Visa® Card|
|Get a higher credit line after making your first 6 payments on time||Access additional credit with on-time payments and responsible usage|
|No interest on purchases when you pay in full and on time each month||Quick & easy approval in less than 60 seconds|
|Free, online credit score access for cardholders||Free, online credit score access for cardholders|
Building credit is challenging. Repairing credit is just as tough, if not more so. Many lenders are wary of applicants with bad credit or no credit at all. What about those who want a credit card to build credit but don’t have the available money for a security deposit? When a person wants to establish a credit history but can’t set aside the money for a deposit on a secured card, catalog and merchandise cards are a potential option.
Why Choose a Catalog or Merchandise Card?
Merchandise cards are a great choice for those with a limited credit history – or no credit history at all. Why choose catalog store credit cards or merchandise cards for bad credit? Here are three of the top reasons to consider a catalog card:
Catalog cards are a unique type of retail payment card. These are not credit cards, but they provide a line of unsecured credit at an individual online store – or online catalog. Unlike mainstream credit cards, catalog merchandise cards are closed-loop, meaning they may only be used at the store associated with them.
There are several merchandise cards on the market today. These cards offer different benefits to account holders, depending on the card’s issuer.
Related Content with More Credit Building Credit Card Options
Rebuilding Your Credit Doesn’t Have to Hurt
There are a few takeaways from this article. First, it’s that rebuilding credit can have its perks. Sure you need to make on-time payments and keep your credit utilization low, but while doing that you can still buy the things you want.
Second, there are plenty of options out there. Bad credit doesn’t mean you can’t get credit. A subprime credit score means you need to work on repairing your credit with the right credit cards. Using the options above can help you quickly repair your credit if you follow the correct advice. This advice includes:
- Always paying your bills on time
- Keeping your credit usage below 30%
- Using your credit cards to make small purchases
Need more help finding your perfect credit card? Here are a few helpful articles to guide you in the right direction: