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CNET Money's mission is to help you maximize your financial potential. Our recommendations are based on our editors' independent research and analysis, and we continuously update our content to reflect current partner offers. How we rate credit cards

Best Credit Cards for People With No Credit in August 2022

You don't need to have a credit history to get approved for these credit cards.

Building credit with a credit card can sometimes feel like a Catch-22. You need good credit to get approved for a credit card, but you need a credit card to build good credit. Secured credit cards provide one solution, but require users to pay deposits. 

Other companies take different approaches to offer credit cards to consumers with no credit. Some will use info from your bank accounts and average income to make credit card approvals. Others provide special cards for students that don't require any existing credit rating.

Find our best partner offers for credit cards that don't require a credit rating below. For related offers, be sure to see our top partner offers for those with bad credit.

Best card for those with no credit

Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR15.24% - 29.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Limited/Fair/Good/Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Foreign Transaction Fees $0
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.

Our Take

The Petal 2 Visa Card, issued by WebBank, Member FDIC, stands out as one of the best cards to begin establishing credit. It's our top pick because it comes with no annual fees, no late fees, no foreign transaction fees and no returned payment fees -- perfect for someone first handling the reins of managing credit. Your credit score, if you have one, and Petal's Cash Score, which analyzes how you spend your money, may be used when evaluating your application. If you have no credit, this means you will need to provide some financial details.

Your credit limit will be between $300 and $10,000, based on creditworthiness. You also have the opportunity to earn 2% to 10% cash-back at select merchants, and your cash-back rate of 1% on eligible purchases will increase to up to 1.5% after 12 months of on-time payments. There's also no need to worry about a security deposit.

Good for students

Card Highlights
Intro OfferIntro 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.
APR14.49% - 23.49% Variable
Intro Purchase APR0% for 6 months
Recommended Credit Fair/New to Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR10.99% for 6 months
Balance Transfer APR14.49% - 23.49% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Late Payment Fee None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $41.
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Our Take

The Discover it® Student chrome* offers a winning combination of cash-back and other rewards opportunities, as well as lenient terms for first-time credit card holders. You won't get dinged by the credit card company for your first late payment (up to $41 thereafter) or have to deal with an exorbitant penalty APR. Plus, you can earn 1% to 2% back in rewards each month (2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined quarterly purchases, then 1%) on this Discover credit card. Discover does offer another similar student credit card, the Discover it® Student Cash Back*, but the rotating bonus categories for earning rewards can make things overcomplicated, especially for first-time cardholders. 

For our full review of the Discover it® Student chrome, check out our coverage of the best student credit cards.

Good for international students

Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR20.99% Variable
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Limited/No Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard
Annual Fee$0
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard

Our Take

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students positions itself as an alternative to traditional banks and credit card issuers, and specializes in credit cards for students and first-timers. 

The Deserve EDU student credit card checks most of the important boxes: It offers 1% back on all spending, features a relatively low late-payment fee and comes with a flat 20.99% APR (which will vary depending on the prime rate). While it offers a lower student rewards rate than other cards, its relaxed eligibility requirements are well-suited for students with a brief or nonexistent credit history or other potentially disqualifying limitation -- like not having a Social Security number if you're an international student. 

For our full review of the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students, check out our write-up of best student credit cards.

Good secured card for those with no credit

Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR26.99% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Limited, Bad
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APRN/A
Balance Transfer APR26.99% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee $0 at this Transfer APR
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR None

Our Take

Secured credit cards work differently than other credit cards. They require an upfront security deposit to open your account, which your "credit limit" is often based on. It's an arrangement that's especially useful as a credit builder account for someone who needs to show they can reliably pay a bill each month. 

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card gives you $200 in credit when you deposit $49, $99 or $200, depending on your credit history -- making it one of the few secured cards to offer actual credit. (Your particular terms depend on your specific application.) And this secured card checks all of the boxes: $0 annual fee, modest minimum security deposit of $49 -- and the opportunity to earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making on-time payments. Also nice: Capital One will see if you're preapproved with a soft credit check, providing a risk-free peek at eligibility before you submit an official application to the credit card company. 

Check out our full review of the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card for more details.

FAQs

What are my best options for building credit if I don't have a credit score or history?

The best option is to apply for a card that offers "alternative approval criteria." Alternative criteria include things like your checking and savings account histories for a sign of regular income and evidence of paying bills on time. This avenue is easiest if you already have a relationship with the bank, so start with the bank where you have a checking account. 

Another option is to "co-sign" for a credit card. Co-signing allows two people to be on one credit card account, and both people are on the hook in terms of credit reputation. It's up to both parties to ensure payments are made on time and balances are paid off, otherwise both could be subject to credit dings. The upside is both parties can improve their credit score, too.

It's also possible to be added as an authorized user on another established credit user's account, but you'll have fewer options than if you were to co-sign.

If you don't have strong alternative approval criteria or a friend who's willing to co-sign or add you as an authorized user, consider a student card or a secured credit card.

What do I do if I don't have a checking account?

In most cases, you'll need a checking account and evidence of regular income to be eligible for a credit card. If you don't have one, check out our article on best checking accounts to find the account that best suits your needs.

What's the fastest way to build credit?

While most of the credit-building process requires time, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you're improving your credit score number as quickly as possible. 

  • First, pay all of your bills on time. This will boost the on-time payment calculation in your credit score.
  • Second, work to keep your credit utilization as low as possible. Do that by paying off your entire balance at least once a month, and twice per month if you can. It will also help to have a higher credit limit, so look for cards that offer credit increases periodically -- or call your bank every five to six months if they don't, and ask for a credit limit increase.
  • Finally, don't open too many new credit accounts all at once, even if you're trying to improve your credit mix. Lenders can get skittish if you've recently applied for multiple credit accounts, as it shows you could be a riskier borrower.

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash-back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles -- with the understanding that everyone's financial situation is different -- and the designated function of a card. 

For cash-back credit cards, for example, key factors include the annual fee, the "welcome bonus" and the cash-back rate (or rates, if they differ by spending category). For rewards and miles cards, we calculate and weigh the net monetary value of a card's respective perks. And with balance transfer credit cards, we analyze specs such as the duration of the introductory 0% APR period and the balance transfer fee, while acknowledging secondary factors such as the standard APR and the length of time you have to make a balance transfer after you open the account.

More credit cards 

*All information about the Discover it Student chrome and the Discover it Student Cash Back has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.