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Guide to Getting a Credit Card With No Credit History

Guide to Getting a Credit Card With No Credit History
Jason Steele
Jason SteeleUpdated November 7, 2022
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Your credit history is an important factor when it comes to getting a credit card. It’s one of the factors credit card companies look at when deciding whether to approve you. Fortunately, it is possible to get a credit card with no credit. And once you obtain a credit card and use it responsibly, it may help you build your credit history, which could help you in the future if you need to borrow money.Here’s how to get a credit card with no credit.

What Does It Mean to Have No Credit History?

If you don’t have a credit history, it means you have no record of borrowing money that’s been reported to one of the major consumer credit bureaus in the U.S., which are Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion®.There are a few reasons why you may have no credit history, including:
  • You’re a young adult and have not taken out any loans in your name (generally, you cannot get a credit card on your own if you’re under 21)
  • You’re a recent immigrant from another country
  • You prefer to pay cash, so you’ve never had a credit card or taken out loans, such as a mortgage or student loans 
Many people do find that using a credit card is convenient, however, and they opt to apply for one at some point. That’s why it’s important to know how to get a credit card with no credit.

How Does Your Credit History Affect Credit Card Approval?

To understand how credit history affects credit card approval, it’s helpful to know how credit cards work. A credit card is a revolving line of credit. You use it to borrow money up to a certain limit that you repay monthly. If you don’t pay your balance in full each month you’ll pay interest on the amount that remains.  Typically, when you apply for a credit card, the card issuer will base approval or denial of your application in large part on your credit history. That’s because your credit history and credit score are a record of how well you’ve managed debt and repaid money in the past. Credit card companies consider your credit history a sign of how you will handle debt and payments in the future. The better your credit score, the likelier your chances of being approved for a credit card.That’s why it can be difficult to get a credit card with no credit. But it is possible to do so.

Tips for Applying for a Credit Card With No Credit History

How to get a credit card with no credit typically involves using one of the following options:  

Pick the right card

You’ll want to focus on choosing a credit card that makes the most sense for your situation. Most people start out with no credit history. That’s why there are cards made for those who don’t have credit. These cards include student cards, secured cards, retail cards, and alternative credit cards (learn more about these options below).  

Consider a credit builder loan

Credit builder loans are small short-term loans that may help you build credit. These  loans are usually for $1,000 or less, and come with repayment terms of 6 months to 2 years. The money you borrow with a credit builder loan is set aside in a savings account. Once you pay off the amount borrowed with interest, you receive the money. The payments you make are reported to the credit bureaus, which can help you build your credit history. 

Become an authorized user on someone else’s card 

If a relative or close friend is willing to add you as an authorized user on their credit card account, that can help you build credit. The other person is the primary user on the account, but you’ll get your own card and can make purchases with it. The card will help you build your credit history, so be sure to pay off any charges you make. Recommended: Top Fair Credit Cards

What Credit Card Can You Get With No Credit?

People with no credit sometimes look at the best credit cards for people with bad credit, which may be easier for them to qualify for. However, there are some other kinds of credit cards that you may be able to get when you have no credit, such as: 

Student Credit Cards

Student credit cards are designed for young adults who are enrolled in college and have no credit history. They work like other credit cards and may come with rewards and no annual fee. Here are some tips for applying for a credit card that may be helpful before you fill out an application.

Secured Credit Cards

A secured credit card is one that requires you to make a refundable security deposit before the account is opened. The amount of the deposit determines the size of your credit limit. Once the account is opened, a secured card works just like any other credit card. You have a monthly statement and make a minimum payment. The security deposit is used only if you default on the account. After a year, many secured card users find that they are able to qualify for a standard, unsecured card and receive their initial security deposit back. 

Retail Credit Cards

Retailers such as Target and Walmart offer credit cards that you may be able to qualify for with no credit history. Typically, you can only use retail credit cards for purchases at the retailer, while others are part of a payment network such as Visa or Mastercard. These cards usually have higher interest rates and lower credit limits than other credit cards. As long as you pay off the charges to a retail card responsibly, they could help you build credit.

Alternative Credit Cards

Recently, some new credit cards have been introduced that may be an option for  those with no credit history. These card issuers use information such as your income, employment, and bank account information to determine your creditworthiness. If you qualify for one of these cards and make your payments on time, they may be able to help you build your credit history.

The Takeaway

While it can be challenging to get a credit card with no credit, there are ways to do it. For instance, you could apply for a student credit card, a secured credit card, or a retail credit card. Once you are approved and as long as you use them responsibly, these cards may help you build your credit history.As you’re exploring your credit card options, you’ll want to shop for the best terms. Lantern by SoFi can help make the process of comparing credit cards easier. In our online marketplace, you can view multiple offers for credit-building credit cards as well as the top credit cards for poor credit in order to help find the best one for you.
Photo credit: iStock/baramee2554
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website on credit (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/credit-and-loans)LCCC0822005

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a credit score to apply for a credit card?
How hard is it to get a credit card with no credit?
Can you get a credit card without a hard credit check?

About the Author

Jason Steele

Jason Steele

Jason Steele has been writing about credit cards and award travel since 2008. One of the nation's leading experts in this field, he has contributed to dozens of personal finance and travel outlets and has been widely quoted in the mainstream media.
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