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Best Starter Credit Cards for No Credit of January 2020

NerdWalletJanuary 6, 2020

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

NerdWallet's Best Starter Credit Cards for No Credit of January 2020

Our pick for

Low deposit

Capital One Secured Mastercard Credit Card

on Capital One's website

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

26.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
With most secured credit cards, your deposit equals your credit limit. That’s not necessarily the case with the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®. For those who qualify, you may be able to put down just $49 or $99 for a $200 credit line. And the annual fee is $0.

Pros

You can pay your deposit in installments, so you don't have to come up with it all at once, which can be a hurdle for some. Make your first five payments on time, and you can gain access to a higher credit limit without having to deposit more money.

Cons

You must have a bank account to qualify. You won’t qualify for this card if your monthly income doesn't exceed your rent or mortgage payment by at least $425.
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide
  • See if you qualify for a better offer with Capital One:

Our pick for

Rewards and upgrading

Discover it® Secured

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

Rates & Fees

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

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

24.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Recommended Credit Score
The benefits of the Discover it® Secured outweigh the $200 minimum deposit requirement. Use the card responsibly, and you’ll earn rewards (nearly unheard-of for a secured card) and get the chance to upgrade to a regular credit card without having to close your account.

Pros

You earn 2% cash-back on up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter at restaurants and gas stations, and 1% on all other spending. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. The annual fee is $0. And after eight months, Discover automatically begins evaluating your account for a possible upgrade to a regular credit card.

Cons

You need a bank account to qualify for this credit card. For some people, the $200 minimum deposit might be hard to pull together. For others, the $2,500 maximum credit limit might be too low.
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

No credit check

Capital Bank Open Sky Secured Credit Card

on Capital Bank's website

on Capital Bank's website

Annual Fee

$35

Regular APR

18.89% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card doesn't require a credit check, and you can qualify even if you don't have a bank account.

Pros

Although the card charges an annual fee, it's still a decent credit-building tool for the unbanked, people with no credit history at all and others who struggle to find good options.

Cons

The annual fee is $35, which you'll be stuck paying if you want to keep your account open to help your credit score. There's no option to upgrade your account to an unsecured card.
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card.  Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.

Our pick for

Low interest and fees

Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card Credit Card
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.75%, Variable

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Paying your bill in full every month avoids interest, but that may not always be possible. If you expect to be carrying a balance, the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card can save you money over time.

Pros

The interest rate is better than what you'll find on most secured credit cards and even many regular credit cards. The annual fee is $0, and the card doesn’t charge balance transfer or cash advance fees. There's no set maximum deposit amount, so you have the option of giving yourself a high credit limit.

Cons

You must be a member of Digital Federal Credit Union. If you don't work for an eligible employer or live in an eligible community, you can also join by being a member of an eligible nonprofit such as Reach Out for Schools ($10 to join). See the membership rules here. The minimum deposit is $500, which may be too much for some.
  • Secured card rates well below the national average
  • Borrow against your DCU savings account
  • No Annual Fee*
  • No Fees or Higher Rates for Cash Advances and Balance Transfers
  • Works with Apple Pay®, Google Pay™, and Samsung Pay
  • Insurance, car rental, travel, and warranty benefits
  • Optional Overdraft Protection On Your DCU Checking
  • Buy online easily and safely with Visa Checkout
  • Embedded EMV chip to protect your card information

Last updated on January 6, 2020

Methodology

NerdWallet's credit cards team selects the best 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 in multiple categories.