Best Credit Card for Building Credit
NerdWallet reviewed more than 30 credit cards that were listed as available to people with credit scores below 630, or that advertised nontraditional underwriting criteria based on factors other than credit scores. The cards we reviewed include products from NerdWallet partners, but this did not influence our selection of the winner.
How we picked the cards to evaluate:
When choosing our best credit card for building credit, we considered the following factors in descending order of importance:
How we chose the winner:
- Credit reporting (whether the card reports activity to all three major credit bureaus).
- Annual fees.
- Deposit requirements (in the case of secured cards).
- Upgrade possibilities (in the case of secured cards, the ability to eventually graduate to an unsecured card).
- Unique underwriting criteria based on factors other than credit scores.
- Cardholder perks (rewards, credit education resources, etc.).
Cards' NerdWallet star ratings alone do not determine awards. Here's how our credit cards team distinguishes between star ratings and award selections:
- Star ratings are quantitative: We assess the features of a card, score those features according to how they compare with other options on the market and assign the card a rating of 1 to 5 stars based on those features. In general, a card that rates 4.5 stars will be a better value for more people than a card that rates 4.0 stars. However, the 4.0 card might be better than the 4.5 card for an individual consumer depending on that person’s circumstances.
- Selection for awards is both quantitative and qualitative: Selection for the awards is based on discussion among editorial team members and relies on the same criteria used for the star ratings. However, star ratings alone do not dictate awards. Rather, the awards identify the best cards for specific uses or specific types of consumers, such as those with bad credit.
NerdWallet gets credit card information from partner issuers through automated data feeds. Information about cards from nonpartner issuers is verified on the issuers’ websites.
How we verified our data:
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