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NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards for No Credit of 2017

Oct. 3, 2018
Credit Cards, Credit Cards for Bad Credit
best-credit-cards-for-no-credit
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Without a credit history, you’re unlikely to qualify for most credit cards because issuers see you as a risk. That’s why your best option is a secured credit card. Secured cards require a cash deposit as collateral. The deposit reduces the risk to the issuer, which makes these cards available to more people. The amount deposited usually determines your credit limit. You get your deposit back when you close the account or upgrade to a regular credit card. Used responsibly, secured cards can be a gateway to good credit.

Best for low deposit:
Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Apply Now on Capital One's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 300
    629
    Poor
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Qualify with limited / bad credit
    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • No rewards
    • High APR

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 24.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 24.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    None

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • 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
    • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, determined based on your creditworthiness
    • 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

$0 annual fee. Get a credit limit of $200 for a deposit of $49, $99 or $200, depending on your creditworthiness. The ongoing APR is 24.99% Variable APR.

Benefits of the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

  • With most secured credit cards, your deposit equals your credit limit. That’s not always the case with the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®. You may be able to put down just $49 or $99 for a $200 credit line.
  • You can pay the deposit in installments over 80 days after you’re approved, so you don’t have to come up with it all at once, which can be hurdle for some
  • The annual fee is $0
  • Make your first five payments on time, and you can gain access to a higher credit limit without having to deposit more money

Drawbacks of the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

  • You must have a bank account to qualify
  • You won’t qualify for this card if your monthly income doesn’t exceed your rent payment by at least $425

The bottom line

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is an excellent choice if you’re trying to build credit for the first time. If you don’t need your deposit back immediately, the $0 annual fee gives you the option of keeping the card open and active once you qualify for a regular credit card elsewhere.

Best for rewards and upgrading:
Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

Apply Now on Discover's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 300
    629
    Poor
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee
    • Reports to the three major credit bureaus
    • Offers rewards and a sign-up bonus
    • Chance to upgrade to unsecured account after 8 months

    Cons

    • Requires minimum deposit of $200
    • Discover cards not widely accepted outside the U.S.

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 24.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.

    Intro APR

    • 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months
  • Additional Information
    • Voted as NerdWallet's Best Card for Building Credit of 2018
    • No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
    • Your Secured Credit Card requires a refundable security deposit up to the amount we can approve of at least $200 which will establish your credit line. You will need to provide your bank information when submitting your security deposit.
    • We will automatically begin reviewing your account starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit.
    • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
    • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cashback you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
    • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts - Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
    • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
    • View Rates and Fees

$0 annual fee. 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 match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched. Introductory APR of 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months, and then the ongoing APR of 24.99% Variable APR.

Benefits of the Discover it® Secured

  • This card offers rewards, which is all but unheard of for a secured card
  • You get a new cardmember bonus that effectively doubles your rewards in the first year
  • After eight months, Discover automatically begins evaluating your account for a possible upgrade to a regular credit card.

Drawbacks of the Discover it® Secured

  • You need a bank account to qualify for this credit card
  • For some people, the $200 minimum deposit might be steep. For others, the $2,500 maximum credit limit might be too low.

The bottom line

The benefits of the Discover it® Secured outweigh the $200 minimum deposit requirement. Use the card responsibly, and you’ll earn rewards and get the chance to upgrade to a regular credit card without having to close your account.

Best for no credit check:
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Apply Now on Capital Bank's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 300
    689
    Poor - Average
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No credit check required
    • Doesn't require a bank account
    • Reports to the three major credit bureaus

    Cons

    • Has annual fee
    • High ongoing APR
    • Requires $200 mininum deposit

    Annual Fees

    $35

    APR

    • APR: 19.14% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 19.14%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    None

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • 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.
    • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
    • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search “OpenSky Card” in Facebook.)
    • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
    • *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card.

The $35. The ongoing APR is 19.14% Variable APR.

Benefits of the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card:

  • The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card doesn’t require a credit check
  • You don’t need a bank account to qualify
  • The card offers a credit limit up to $3,000, as long as you can put that amount down as a deposit

Drawbacks of the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card:

  • You can’t upgrade your account to a regular credit card
  • The $35, meaning you’ll be stuck with this amount if you want to keep your account open to help your credit score
  • If you don’t have a bank account, you’ll also spend a few dollars every month on money orders to pay your bill

The bottom line

If you want to establish credit without a bank account or you doubt you could pass a credit check, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is your best bet. If not, you have better options.

Best for low interest and fees:
Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card

Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card

Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card

Apply Now on Digital Federal Credit Union's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 300
    850
    Poor - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Qualify with limited / bad credit
    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • No rewards

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 13.25% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: Up to 18.00%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    None

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • 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

The $0. The ongoing APR is 13.25% Variable APR. 

Benefits of the Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card

  • The interest rate is better than what you’ll find on most secured credit cards and even many regular credit cards
  • The $0
  • This card also doesn’t charge balance transfer or cash advance fees
  • You can deposit as much money as you want and get a matching credit limit. There’s no cap.

Drawbacks of the Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card

  • 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 bottom line

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 Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card can save you money over time.

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