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Unsecured Cards for People with Short Credit Histories

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Unsecured Yet Easy Credit Cards to Qualify For

Even if you have a short credit history, you may be able to qualify for an unsecured credit card without a cosigner. Before shelling out hundreds of dollars for a deposit on a secured card, consider some of these options first if your credit score is average – that is, between 630 and 689.

If you spend a lot on gas and groceries: Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard®

Barclays Rewards MasterCard - Average Credit Credit Card
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on Barclays's
secure website

The Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard® offers a decent rewards program for folks with average credit: 2 points per dollar spent on gas, groceries and utilities, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. The points can be redeemed as statement credits. As a cardholder, you’ll also get a complimentary FICO score and, in some cases, a credit line increase after you make five monthly payments on time. The annual fee is $0.

If you make lots of NFL purchases: NFL Extra Points Credit Card

The NFL Extra Points Credit Card isn’t just for Thursday-through-Monday football diehards; it’s also a good option for average-credit folks. It gives 1 NFL point for every dollar spent, and 2 points for every dollar spent on NFL or team gear. Those points are redeemable as a statement credit. With an annual fee of $0, it also comes with a signup bonus: Earn 10,000 bonus points after $500 in purchases in the first 90 days, enough to redeem for a $100 cash back statement credit.

If you’re looking for a no-hassle cash-back card: Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

With the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, you can earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases, even if you have average credit. You may also get access to a higher credit line if you make your first five monthly payments on time. It comes with an annual fee of $39.

If you plan on carrying a balance: Somerset Trust Company Community Visa Gold

Somerset Trust Company Visa Gold Card Credit Card
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on Somerset Trust Company's
secure website

The Somerset Trust Company Community Visa Gold doesn’t offer any rewards, but it does have low annual percentage rates compared to other fair credit cards: 3.9% for 6 months on purchases, and then the ongoing APR of 10.9% - 10.9% Variable

It’s not ideal to carry a balance — especially if you’re trying to boost your credit score — but if there’s a good chance you’ll have to revolve your debt, this may be your most affordable option. The annual fee is $0.

Nerd note: Remember, if you’re a college student, your options are a bit different.

For bad credit, secured cards still win

If you have average credit, an unsecured card may help you save a bundle. But when you have bad credit, opting for a secured card may be your best bet, since unsecured cards for bad credit often come with expensive annual fees, which are deducted from your initial credit line.

Wells Fargo Secured Visa Card Credit Card
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on Wells Fargo's
secure website

If you have poor credit, you’ll likely save more with a secured card like the Wells Fargo Secured Visa Card. The annual fee is $25, making it less expensive than other bad credit credit cards. More importantly, the card reports to the major consumer credit bureaus, helping you establish credit. And on top of that, you may also be able to upgrade to an unsecured card with responsible credit use, a perk that most secured cards don’t explicitly offer.


Getting an unsecured card isn’t impossible if you have average credit — but once you do get the card you want, focus on improving your score. The more positive credit history you have, the easier it will be to access better terms and rewards, and the more you’ll save in the long run.

Claire Davidson is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @ideclaire7 and on Google+.

Image via iStock.

  • Travis


  • Travis

    does anyone know where I can get a card with no deposit or processing fees?

    • Billy Collier

      Travis I don’t know if your still looking for an update new urged card but I qualified for a Capitol one student Visa card and ended up with their platinum card so it was easy even with my credit situation

      • Sarah Howell

        Do you have to be a student?

  • nathan bravatto

    They are not called credit unions because they are in the business of automatically handing you credit because you join them. I hope this isn’t why you joined one. LMFAO. They still go by your credit score. If your credit is in the crapper just “joining” a credit union won’t do s&$t for you.

  • Jay Aye

    Great job, Derrick!

  • Sarah Howell

    I want a credit card with no upfront deposit or fee to sign up for it. But I have really bad credit. I don’t really care about monthly fees. I just don’t want to pay an up front fee. How do I find one like this?

    • jm

      Truth be told, you need a secured card perhaps through Capital One or Wells Fargo, and if you want credit to build, those fees won’t matter until after you build some credit. You have bad credit, which generally means you need to prove you can undo that bad to have good credit. Bad credit tales time to build, good credit takes the same. Creditors are going to need time to trust you, if you aren’t willing to work for it, why should they? Be patient, work on your debts and it’ll come in time.

    • Roseann Olsen

      Just so u know the fee isnt upfront they take it right off of ur credit card upon either actuvation of ur card or after ur first purchase

    • Bill Collectors Hate Me

      Try the Capital One Platinum MasterCard. It is very easy to get.

  • tommy

    wells fargo is sick and full of it . my girl has 2 unsecured credit cards that she has paid and been a good customer . she has 2 direct deposits into wells fargo and they denied her a credt card , strangers , capital one for instance gave her 600 .00 credit card her own bank denied her . personally i think their sick

  • Kelli Pollard

    Wells Fargo is accountable to it’s shareholders first, executive management second, mid management third, it’s employees last, and you least of all all. You are in the business of boosting their profits, and underpinning annual bonus checks that exceed your annual income. Their children should be sending you thank you cards for their college education. Join a credit union.