The easiest credit card to get will depend largely on your credit scores and history.
If you have excellent credit (FICO scores of 720 or higher), you needn't worry much. Your credit history shows card issuers that you're a trustworthy and responsible borrower, so you'll have a wide variety of rewarding and easy-to-get credit card options.
But if you have bad credit (FICO scores of 629 or below), thin credit or no credit at all, getting your first credit card can prove to be a much greater challenge. Here's where to start your search for easy credit cards to get.
Easiest credit cards to get
Secured credit cards
Secured credit cards will likely be the easiest cards to get for those with either poor credit or no credit. That's because they require collateral upfront in the form of a security deposit, which is typically equal to the amount of your credit line and reduces the risk to the card issuer if you fail to pay your bill.
Scraping together a deposit can be its own hurdle, but that deposit is refundable when you close the account in good standing or upgrade to a regular "unsecured" product from that same issuer. The best secured credit cards feature such an upgrade path, while also reporting to all three credit bureaus. Ideally, they also skip an annual fee.
The Discover it® Secured Credit Card, for example, hits all three of those notes. What's more, it also earns rewards.
Or you could consider the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, which doesn't earn rewards but also doesn't require a bank account or even a credit check. It does, however, charge an annual fee of $35.
Student credit cards
Student credit cards are generally aimed at 18- to 21-year-olds who have little or no credit history. You don't necessarily have to be a student to get a student credit card, but you do have to meet certain other requirements.
For instance, if you're under 21, you'll either have to show proof that you have an independent income or find a co-signer. These can still be difficult barriers to overcome — for one, it's rare these days to even find credit card issuers that allow co-signers. And if you already have poor credit, you may still not be approved.
But the point is that many student cards are specifically designed for those who are just starting out with credit, meaning there may be no FICO history requirement at all. Two good examples are the Discover it® Student chrome and the Discover it® Student Cash Back. Both earn rewards, along with incentives for good grades.
Store credit cards
Store credit cards can be a bit of a double-edged sword: They tend to have lower credit rating requirements, which makes them among the best credit cards for fair credit or limited credit. But they also typically feature lower credit limits and higher interest rates, and some can be used only within the physical or virtual walls of that particular merchant.
Still, these co-branded store cards can help you build a credit history, and many have seriously upped their game in recent years in an attempt to become top-of-wallet options, with richer rewards and perks even on everyday spending outside of the brand.
Consider, for example, the Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard®, which is available to those with only average credit (FICO scores of at least 630) and features solid rewards both at Walmart and in multiple other spending categories. Plus, there's no annual fee or store membership requirement to get it.
Alternative credit cards
What if you can't afford a security deposit or annual fee and aren't sure whether you have a sufficient credit history? The good news is that certain alternative credit cards may require none of the above.
Instead of relying entirely on the traditional FICO scoring model, these alternative products can often use their own proprietary underwriting standards to help determine your creditworthiness. They may, for instance, evaluate things like your income, your employer, your bank account balances and more.
For instance, students can potentially qualify for the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students with no credit history. Instead, the issuer can weigh factors like your U.S. bank account, to gauge your ability to pay. International students don't even necessarily need a Social Security number to apply. (Documents such as a student visa or passport ID may suffice.) The card also earns 1% cash back on all purchases, and its annual fee is $0.
Authorized-user credit cards
Ultimately, if what you want is a credit card with your name on it that you can use, then becoming an authorized user of someone else's account is perhaps the easiest route.
That's because you don't need to open an account yourself. You just need to have a primary account holder add you to their existing account. If a parent, spouse or another loved one agrees to do so, you'll get your own card to use. Assuming that the primary user already has a good credit history — and assuming the card issuer reports authorized users' activity to the credit bureaus — your own credit scores may benefit as a result.
Just be aware that while you'll be authorized to make charges on the account, you are not liable for paying off those charges. That responsibility falls to the primary cardholder, regardless of how much debt you rack up.
Information about the Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard® has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been provided or reviewed by the issuer of this card.