Best Credit Cards for People With No Credit for March 2022 – CNET

If you’re trying to build credit, where should you start if you don’t have a credit score? Whether you’re just beginning your financial journey or you’re looking to repair your finances, there are some credit cards that don’t care that much about your three-digit credit score.

Recently, more banks have been issuing credit cards to people without a credit score, as long as they can demonstrate their financial health in other ways, like providing checking and savings account details, for example. The shift occurred without official acknowledgement from banks, but several reports in the Wall Street Journal have confirmed that lenders look beyond credit scores when making credit decisions. 

Below, we’ve rounded up the best partner offers for anyone without a credit score or positive credit history. And farther down, see our frequently asked questions and tips on getting a credit card if you’ve had trouble in the past. 

Intro OfferN/A

APR12.99% – 26.99% (Variable)

Recommended Credit Limited/Fair/Good/Excellent

Reward Rates

  • Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.

Annual Fee$0

Intro Purchase APRN/A

Foreign Transaction Fees $0

  • Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.

Our Take

The Petal 2 Visa Card, issued by WebBank, Member FDIC, stands out as one of the best cards to begin establishing credit. It’s our top pick because it comes with no annual fees, no late fees, no foreign transaction fees and no returned payment fees — perfect for someone first handling the reins of managing credit. Your credit score, if you have one, and Petal’s Cash Score, which analyzes how you spend your money, may be used when evaluating your application. If you have no credit, this means you will need to provide some financial details.

Your credit limit will be between $300 and $10,000, based on creditworthiness. You also have the opportunity to earn 2% to 10% cash-back at select merchants, and your cash-back rate of 1% on eligible purchases will increase to up to 1.5% after 12 months of on-time payments. There’s also no need to worry about a security deposit.

Intro OfferIntro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

APR12.99% – 21.99% Variable

Recommended Credit Fair/New to Credit

Reward Rates

  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Annual Fee$0

Intro Purchase APR0% for 6 months

Intro Balance Transfer APR10.99% for 6 months

Balance Transfer Fee 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*

Balance Transfer APR12.99% – 21.99% Variable

Late Payment Fee None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $40.

Foreign Transaction Fees None

  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Our Take

The Discover it® Student chromeoffers a winning combination of cash-back and other rewards opportunities, as well as lenient terms for first-time credit card holders. You won’t get dinged by the credit card company for your first late payment (up to $40 thereafter) or have to deal with an exorbitant penalty APR. Plus, you can earn 1% to 2% back in rewards each month (2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined quarterly purchases, then 1%) on this Discover credit card. Discover does offer another similar student credit card, the Discover it® Student Cash Back*, but the rotating bonus categories for earning rewards can make things overcomplicated, especially for first-time cardholders. 

For our full review of the Discover it® Student chrome, check out our coverage of the best student credit cards.

Intro OfferN/A

APR18.74% Variable

Recommended Credit Limited/No Credit

Reward Rates

  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard

Annual Fee$0

Intro Purchase APRN/A

  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard

Our Take

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students positions itself as an alternative to traditional banks and credit card issuers, and specializes in credit cards for students and first-timers. 

The Deserve EDU student credit card checks most of the important boxes: It offers 1% back on all spending, features a relatively low late-payment fee and comes with a flat 18.74% APR (which will vary depending on the prime rate). While it offers a lower student rewards rate than other cards, its relaxed eligibility requirements are well-suited for students with a brief or nonexistent credit history or other potentially disqualifying limitation — like not having a Social Security number if you’re an international student. 

For our full review of the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students, check out our write-up of best student credit cards.

Intro OfferN/A

APR26.99% (Variable)

Recommended Credit Limited, Bad

Reward RatesN/A

Annual Fee$0

Intro Purchase APRN/A

Intro Balance Transfer APRN/A

Balance Transfer Fee $0 at this Transfer APR

Balance Transfer APR26.99% (Variable)

Late Payment Fee Up to $40

Foreign Transaction Fees None

Penalty APR None

Our Take

Secured credit cards work differently than other credit cards. They require an upfront security deposit to open your account, which your “credit limit” is often based on. It’s an arrangement that’s especially useful as a credit builder account for someone who needs to show they can reliably pay a bill each month. 

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Cardgives you $200 in credit when you deposit $49, $99 or $200, depending on your credit history — making it one of the few secured cards to offer actual credit. (Your particular terms depend on your specific application.) And this card checks all of the boxes: $0 annual fee, modest minimum security deposit of $49 — and the opportunity to earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making on-time payments. Also nice: Capital One will see if you’re preapproved with a soft credit check, providing a risk-free peek at eligibility before you submit an official application to the credit card company. 

For our full review of the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, check out our write-up of the best secured cards.


What are my best options for building credit if I don’t have a credit score or history?

The best option is to apply for a card that offers “alternative approval criteria.” Alternative criteria include things like your checking and savings account histories for a sign of regular income and evidence of paying bills on time. This avenue is easiest if you already have a relationship with the bank, so start with the bank where you have a checking account. 

Another option is to “co-sign” for a credit card. Co-signing allows two people to be on one credit card account, and both people are on the hook in terms of credit reputation. It’s up to both parties to ensure payments are made on time and balances are paid off, otherwise both could be subject to credit dings. The upside is both parties can improve their credit score, too.

It’s also possible to be added as an authorized user on another established credit user’s account, but you’ll have fewer options than if you were to co-sign.

If you don’t have strong alternative approval criteria or a friend who’s willing to co-sign or add you as an authorized user, consider a student card or a secured credit card.

What do I do if I don’t have a checking account?

In most cases, you’ll need a checking account and evidence of regular income to be eligible for a credit card. If you don’t have one, check out our article on best checking accounts to find the account that best suits your needs.

What’s the fastest way to build credit?

While most of the credit-building process requires time, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you’re improving your credit score number as quickly as possible. 

  • First, pay all of your bills on time. This will boost the on-time payment calculation in your credit score.
  • Second, work to keep your credit utilization as low as possible. Do that by paying off your entire balance at least once a month, and twice per month if you can. It will also help to have a higher credit limit, so look for cards that offer credit increases periodically — or call your bank every five to six months if they don’t, and ask for a credit limit increase.
  • Finally, don’t open too many new credit accounts all at once, even if you’re trying to improve your credit mix. Lenders can get skittish if you’ve recently applied for multiple credit accounts, as it shows you could be a riskier borrower.

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash-back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles — with the understanding that everyone’s financial situation is different — and the designated function of a card. 

For cash-back credit cards, for example, key factors include the annual fee, the “welcome bonus” and the cash-back rate (or rates, if they differ by spending category). For rewards and miles cards, we calculate and weigh the net monetary value of a card’s respective perks. And with balance transfer credit cards, we analyze specs such as the duration of the introductory 0% APR period and the balance transfer fee, while acknowledging secondary factors such as the standard APR and the length of time you have to make a balance transfer after you open the account.

More credit cards 

  • Best Credit Cards for Fair and Average Credit
  • Best Credit Cards Without Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Best Credit Cards for Good Credit

A direct deposit of news and advice to help you make the smartest decisions with your money.

*All information about the Discover it Student chrome, Discover it Student Cash Back, and Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

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