BEST OF

Best Credit Cards to Build Credit of August 2022

Aug 16, 2022

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Credit cards can be an effective tool to build credit whether you’re starting out or seeking a second chance, but they aren't always easy to get. Options may be limited depending on a card issuer's credit history requirements.

If you don’t know where your credit history stands, it’s possible to get your credit score and credit report for free. Then, you can use the information to apply for credit cards in your credit score range and improve your odds of approval. As you’re weighing your options, here are a few cards to consider that report to all three credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian). These bureaus record the information used to calculate your credit scores. By having your payments recorded by all three companies, future lenders can get a full picture of your credit regardless of which bureau they use to review your credit report.

Some of our selections for the best cards for building credit can be applied for through NerdWallet, and some cannot. Below, you'll find application links for the credit cards from our partners that are available through NerdWallet, followed by the full list of our picks.

NerdWallet's Best Credit Cards to Build Credit of August 2022

Best Credit Cards to Build Credit From Our Partners

Our pick for

No security deposit

Apply now

on Petal's website

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Petal's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

22.24%-31.74% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

The Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card, issued by WebBank, is a solid choice for those with less-than-perfect credit. Petal’s algorithm can look beyond credit scores by analyzing bank information to see how you manage income, savings and spending.

Pros

  • Unlike secured credit cards, this card doesn’t require a security deposit. The credit limit can range between $300 and $5,000, depending on eligibility. That’s a potentially high amount for a starter card if you can qualify. Cardholders may also see some value from the card's rewards — up to 10% cash back when you use the card to make purchases with select merchants.

Cons

  • Petal does not allow you to change your payment due date, so you'll have to find a way to make payments if it doesn't align with your payday.

Read full review
  • $0 Annual Fee.

  • Variable APRs range from 22.24%-31.74%.

  • $300 - $5,000 credit limits.

  • Earn a credit limit increase in as little as 6 months. Terms and conditions apply.

  • No credit score? No problem. If eligible, we'll create your Cash Score instead.

  • 2% - 10% cash back at select merchants.

  • See if you're pre-approved within minutes without impacting your credit score.

  • No annual or foreign transaction fees.

  • Build credit alongside hundreds of thousands of Petal card members.

  • Petal's mobile app makes it easy to manage your money, track your spending, and automate payments.

  • Petal reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.

  • No deposits required.

  • Card issued by WebBank, Member FDIC.

Our pick for

A path to upgrade to a regular card

Apply now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Regular APR

24.49% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is one of the few secured card options that offers rewards. For no credit or bad credit alike, it's an excellent credit-building tool.

Pros

  • This card earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. It requires a minimum of $200 as a security deposit, but you'll eventually get that back if you keep the account in good standing and either close it to get a regular card with a different issuer or use Discover's path to upgrade to one of its regular cards. If you stick with Discover, the wait may not be too long: The issuer starts reviewing your account at seven months to see if you can qualify for a regular Discover credit card.

Cons

  • The minimum required security deposit is $200, which is typical among secured credit cards, but some options for building credit may accept a lower amount or avoid a deposit requirement.

Read full review
  • No credit score required to apply.

  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.

  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200. That means a $200 deposit for a $200 credit line. Or a $500 deposit for a $500 credit line. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit, and the security deposit equals your credit limit.

  • Automatic reviews starting at 7 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.

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

  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.

  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

  • Click "Apply Now" to see terms and conditions.

  • View Rates & Fees

Our pick for

Deposit flexibility + credit-building features

Apply now

on Capital One's website

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

4.8

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Capital One's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

26.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

Secured cards typically require an upfront deposit of several hundred dollars, and the amount determines your credit limit, but the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card may offer valuable flexibility.

Pros

  • The card may allow you to qualify for a credit limit of $200 with a deposit starting at $49, depending on eligibility. After six months, with responsible use, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card can further bump up your credit since the issuer automatically considers you for a higher credit limit without requiring an additional deposit. A higher limit can lower your credit utilization ratio, which can be good for credit scores.

Cons

  • This card doesn't earn rewards, which isn't uncommon for secured credit cards, but some cards do offer them.

Read full review
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds

  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Platinum Secured card responsibly could help

  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line

  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed

  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges

  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone

  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with online banking to access your account from your desktop or smartphone, with Capital One's mobile app

Our pick for

Student-friendly features

Apply now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Discover it® Student chrome

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Regular APR

14.49%-23.49% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

The Discover it® Student chrome packs a lot of value for students with fewer obstacles. It’s rare to find a student credit card that offers a sign-up bonus, an introductory APR offer and rewards.

Pros

  • This card earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, on up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. There’s no FICO history or security deposit to qualify for this card, barriers that sometimes prevent students from building credit. Discover also waives the first late fee which can be helpful when students are learning to get acquainted with managing a first credit card.

Cons

  • The rewards are decent, but students may be able to squeeze more value from the issuer's other student card, the Discover it® Student Cash Back. Discover's international acceptance is limited, so it's not a good companion for studying abroad.

Read full review
  • No credit score required to apply.

  • INTRO 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.

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

  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.

  • No annual fee and build your credit with responsible use.

  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.49% - 23.49% applies.

  • Click "Apply Now" to see terms and conditions.

  • View Rates & Fees

Our pick for

Friendly features for international students

Apply now

on Deserve's website

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Deserve's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

20.99% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

International students who can’t qualify for other credit cards because they lack a Social Security number or a credit history may have a better chance with the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students.

Pros

  • Deserve uses its own underwriting process to evaluate applications based on alternative data like a U.S. bank account, among other factors. You’ll have to link your bank account to allow Deserve to verify your address and ability to pay. The card offers a decent rewards rate of 1% which is in line with what some other student credit cards offer. Cardholders also get up to $69 in statement credit for a 12-month Amazon Prime Student subscription after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles.

Cons

  • Students with a Social Security number can potentially qualify for more valuable student credit cards with better rewards.

Read full review
  • Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student on Deserve after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles with your EDU card (Lifetime Value of $69).

  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you'll automatically start earning cash back on all purchases.

  • Feel secure with cell phone protection up to $600.

  • No deposit required. No annual fees.

  • No international transaction fees on purchases abroad so you can travel with confidence.

  • No Social Security Number required for international students to apply.

  • Refer A Friend Program: Refer anyone to Deserve using your personal referral code. Upon approval, card activation and use, you'll receive $30 and so will your referral. Referral bonuses are unlimited!

  • Manage and track your spending, set automatic payments and securely freeze your card all through one easy to use app.

  • See if you prequalify with no impact to your credit score in minutes.

  • Deserve Mastercards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC.

  • Enjoy Mastercard Platinum Benefits intended to make your life easier like Mastercard ID Theft Prevention™ and Master Rental®.

Our pick for

Eligibility with credit from another country

Apply now

on American Express' website

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

4.9

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express' website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Regular APR

16.24%-27.24% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

For some newcomers to the U.S. it may be possible to get the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express if they have good credit in an eligible country.

Pros

  • AmEx’s partnership with Nova Credit makes it possible to translate credit reports from eligible countries like Australia, Canada, India, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Kenya and Nigeria. (In the application process, you'll have the opportunity to confirm that you have a credit history in another country.) The card comes with solid rewards, as well as a bonus offer and an introductory 0% APR period. Terms apply.

Cons

  • The card is not ideal for international travel. It charges a 2.7% fee on every purchase made abroad, and international acceptance of the card may be limited, depending on the destination.

Read full review
  • Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.

  • No Annual Fee.

  • Balance Transfer is back! Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from the date of account opening. After that, 16.24% to 27.24% variable APR.

  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%.

  • New! 3% Cash Back on U.S. online retail purchases, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%.

  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%.

  • Get $7 back each month after using your Blue Cash Everyday® Card to spend $13.99 or more each month on an eligible subscription to The Disney Bundle, which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. Enrollment required.

  • Terms Apply.

  • View Rates & Fees

FULL LIST OF EDITORIAL PICKS: BEST CREDIT CARDS TO BUILD CREDIT

Our pick for: No security deposit

The issuer of the Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card doesn’t only rely on credit scores to determine eligibility. Instead, it assesses your creditworthiness based on your income, expenses, savings and debts. The card earns a decent rate of up to 10% cash back when you use the card to shop with select merchants. And there's no annual fee, late fees or foreign transaction fees. Read our review.

Our pick for: A path to upgrade to a regular card

Like other secured credit cards for people building or rebuilding credit, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card requires a cash security deposit. Unlike most others, it offers rewards. But what really makes it stand out from the competition is its upgrade possibilities. The issuer has a process in place for automatically reviewing accounts for possible transition to an unsecured card. Read our review. 

Our pick for: Deposit flexibility + credit-building features

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card requires a security deposit, as do all secured credit cards. But while most cards require you to put down a deposit equal to your credit line, this one allows some qualifying applicants to get a $200 credit line with a deposit starting at $49. Further, you can be automatically considered for a higher credit line with no additional deposit in as little as six months. Read our review.

Our pick for: Student-friendly features 

Simplicity makes the Discover it® Student chrome a standout for students searching for their first credit card. You'll earn bonus cash back at restaurants and gas stations with no activation required and no rotating categories to keep track of. Read our review.

Our pick for: Friendly features for international students

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students doesn’t require applicants to have a co-signer or security deposit, and international students don't need a Social Security number. That makes it a little easier to get approved — even for students with limited credit histories. Plus, it comes with a solid 1% back on all purchases. Read our review.

Our pick for: Eligibility with credit from another country

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express pays elevated rewards at U.S. supermarkets, at U.S. gas stations and on U.S. online retail purchases. The rewards might not be as rich as on the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, but this card doesn't charge an annual fee either. New cardholders get a decent welcome offer and an introductory 0% APR period. Read our review.

Our pick for: No interest charges 

You can potentially qualify for the Tomo Credit Card with a low (or no) FICO score because instead of a credit check or security deposit, the card's issuer can weigh several alternative factors like income and account balances. The card earns 1% cash back, and it doesn’t charge interest or fees because you can’t carry a balance from one month to the next. Read our review.

To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, see this page.

Last updated on August 16, 2022

Methodology

NerdWallet's credit cards team selects the best credit cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen as among the "best" in multiple categories. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.