Best of

Best Unsecured Cards for Short Credit Histories of 2019

NerdWalletJuly 1, 2019

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 Unsecured Cards for Short Credit Histories of 2019

Our pick for

Cash-back rewards

Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card

on Capital One's website

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$39

Regular APR

26.96% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Pros

You'll get a solid flat rewards rate on all purchases, and you can redeem your rewards in any amount. If you tend to forget about your rewards, you can even set up auto-redemption, where cash back is automatically applied as a statement credit when it reaches a certain threshold. This card travels well, too, because there's no foreign transaction fee.

Cons

There's an annual fee of $39. That means you'd have to put at least $2,600 on this card each year to break even on rewards. This card offers no sign-up bonus and has a 26.96% Variable APR. That makes carrying a balance expensive.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app

Our pick for

Boosting your credit limit

Capital One Platinum Credit Card Credit Card

on Capital One's website

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

26.96% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Pros

As with the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, you can get access to a higher credit line after you make your first five monthly payments on time. But unlike that card, this one doesn't cost you anything to keep in your wallet (assuming you don't carry a balance). There are also no foreign transaction fees.

Cons

There's no sign-up bonus, and the card earns no rewards. There's also no introductory 0% APR period for purchases or balance transfers. Use this card to build credit, then move on up.
  • Pay no annual fee
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use

Our pick for

Bonus category rewards

ABOC Platinum Rewards

on Amalgamated Bank of Chicago's website

on Amalgamated Bank of Chicago's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.15% - 25.15% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% Intro APR for 12 months on Purchase and Balance Transfers

recommended credit score

Pros

This card earns 5 points per $1 spent on up to $1,500 in combined spending on categories that change each quarter. All other spending earns 1 point per dollar. It also offers a sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening. And if you need to finance a purchase or transfer a balance, you can get 0% Intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.15% - 25.15% Variable APR.

Cons

Keeping track of rotating rewards categories can make managing a card more complicated.
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months; after that the variable APR will be 15.15% - 25.15%, based on your creditworthiness
  • Earn 5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive
  • Earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening
  • No upper limit on the points you can accumulate, and since points never expire, you can save up for a big award!
  • Earn Points on Every Purchase! It’s simple: $1 = 1 Point
  • No Annual Fee
  • Select Your Rewards Your Way

Our pick for

New immigrants

Deserve® Pro Mastercard

on Deserve's website

on Deserve's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

18.49% - 25.49% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Pros

Earn 3% cash back on travel and entertainment and 2% cash back at restaurants (on up to $500 in combined spending per billing cycle), and 1% cash back back on all other purchases. Mastercards are widely accepted around the world, and there's no foreign transaction fee. The annual fee is $0.

Cons

There's no sign-up bonus or 0% intro APR. Balance transfers are not available with this card. The monthly cap on earning 3% or 2% cash back limits your potential rewards.
  • No SSN required for International students or professionals.
  • Available to L1, O1, and H1B visa holders.
  • Priority Pass™ Select Membership (valued at $99), after you make $1,000 of purchases with your new Deserve Pro Mastercard within the first 90 days after activation.
  • 3% cash back on travel & entertainment.
  • 2% cash back on restaurants.
  • 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases.
  • Credit limits up to $10,000.
  • $0 annual fee & no foreign transaction fees.
  • No security deposit or co-signer required.
  • Helps students and professionals build a credit history and gain financial independence.
  • Use anywhere in the world where Mastercard is accepted.
  • Includes Mastercard Platinum Benefits like Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Roadside Assistance, Travel Assistance Services, Price Protection, Extended Warranty and ID Theft Protection.
  • Complimentary cellphone insurance up to $600.

Our pick for

Minimizing impact on credit score

AvantCard Credit Card

on Avant's website

on Avant's website

Annual Fee

$29

Regular APR

26.24% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Pros

Avant's underwriting model takes into account other factors beyond applicants' credit histories, like income and other debt obligations. This can make it easier to qualify for the card without a long credit history. Also, the card doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee and reports to the three major credit bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian — which helps you build your credit history.

Cons

There's no sign-up bonus, no rewards program and no 0% intro APR, but there is a $29 annual fee.
  • No deposit required
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus
  • No penalty APR
  • No hidden fees
  • We may periodically review your account for credit line increases
  • Fast and easy application process
  • Cash Advance Fee: 3%, Min: $5
  • Disclosure: If you are charged interest, the charge will be no less than $1.00
  • Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC

Last updated on July 1, 2019

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.