How to Get a Credit Card With No Credit History

Want to get your first credit card but don’t have existing credit? Learn more about your credit card application options


So you’ve decided to get a credit card. You’re responsible with your money, and you’re confident you can make the monthly payments. But there’s a problem. You don’t have a credit history, which is like a record of your past financial activity.  

Here’s where it can get tough. You might not be able to get a card without a credit history. But it can be hard to establish a credit history without having a card. Don’t panic, though. It’s possible to get a credit card when you have no credit history. Read on to see how you could do it.

What Does ‘No Credit History’ Mean?

If you’ve never had a credit card or loan, for example, you might not have a credit history. That means you haven’t had a credit product or a lender hasn’t reported how you’ve managed debt to at least one of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®. People with no credit history might also be referred to as credit invisible.

What to Look for in a First Credit Card

As you consider credit cards for the first time, it’s a good idea to first check for any eligibility requirements. For example, you generally need to be at least 18 years old to apply for your own credit card account.

Next you’ll want to think about what type of credit card you want. It may be helpful to check the interest rates and whether there are any annual fees or other potential fees. Capital One has a useful credit card comparison tool that helps you search by credit requirements, rewards type and other factors to find the right credit card for you.

You can also check to see whether you’re pre-qualified or pre-approved for a credit card before applying. Pre-qualification and pre-approval are considered soft inquiries, so they don’t affect your credit scores. For example, Capital One offers pre-approval that’s quick and won’t hurt your credit scores. Keep in mind, pre-approval isn’t the same as applying for a credit card, which could result in a hard inquiry.

Credit Cards for People With No Credit

Getting a credit card without a credit history can be difficult, but there are some types of credit cards that may be a good fit for people who are credit invisible.

Secured Credit Card

Many banks and credit unions offer secured credit cards if you have no credit history. 

Here’s how they work: You deposit an amount of money, sometimes known as a security deposit, that the issuer holds as collateral. For example, the Capital One Platinum Secured card has refundable security deposits of $49, $99 or $200 for an initial credit line of $200. If approved, you will get a credit card account with an initial credit limit. And you might be able to increase the credit limit by adding additional funds. 

You can then use the card to make purchases—just like you would with other credit cards. And by using your credit card responsibly, you may be able to start building a credit history and earn your security deposit back.

Student Credit Card

Depending on the issuer and the product, you might not need a long credit history or high credit scores to qualify for a student credit card, which is typically used by college students.

You may be able to help build credit by using a student credit card responsibly. Your credit can be important when it comes to things like buying a car or leasing an apartment. Some student cards can have lower or no annual fees and offer benefits that appeal to students. For example, the SavorOne Rewards for Students card from Capital One allows you to earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services as well as at grocery stores, plus 1% cash back on all other purchases.

A student credit card works just like other credit cards. So if you carry a balance on your card, you might have to pay interest.

Retail Store Credit Card

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a retail store card is another option you might consider if a secured card or a student card isn’t the right option for you.

Just like any other credit card, a retail store card could show up on your credit report if it’s reported to the credit bureaus. And using the card responsibly—by making consistent, on-time payments on the card—could help build credit history.

Keep in mind that you might only be able to use retail store cards in the store or group of stores associated with them. You can learn more by reading the card’s terms and conditions.

Other Ways to Access Credit

In addition to applying for specific types of credit cards on your own, there are other options that could help you get access to credit. And you may be able to use them to build credit too. You could consider becoming an authorized user on another account or asking someone to co-sign a credit card with you, if that’s an option.

Authorized User

Becoming an authorized user means you get a card linked to an existing account that you’re authorized to use. The account could belong to a friend or family member—whoever is willing to add you to their credit card account.

As an authorized user, you’ll get your own card so you can make purchases with the account’s line of credit. But the primary cardholder is ultimately the one who is responsible for the account.

Many issuers report authorized users to the credit bureaus, although it’s important to check. If the issuer does report authorized users—and the card is used responsibly—being an authorized user could help you build your own credit history. And being an authorized user can be a great way to learn how to manage a credit card.

There are benefits for the primary cardholder too. It can be easier to monitor spending when it’s all on the same account. And, depending on the card, the primary cardholder could earn rewards for your spending.

Keep in mind that negative information, like late or missed payments, could affect both the primary cardholder and the authorized user’s credit.

Co-Signer

If you can’t qualify for a credit card on your own, you may have heard that it can help to apply with a co-signer. However, many credit card issuers today don’t allow co-signers.

If you find a credit card issuer that allows co-signers, here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • The co-signer will be responsible for paying back your debt if you don’t or can’t.
  • The co-signer may be responsible for any late fees or collection costs.
  • Negative information, like late payments, could become part of the co-signer’s credit history as well as yours.

How to Apply for a Credit Card With No Credit History

Depending on the issuer, applying for a credit card online may be the quickest and easiest option, but you can also apply in person, over the phone or by mail. When you apply for a credit card, issuers will ask for information that could include your full name, Social Security number, birthday, address and income.

As a reminder, applying for a credit card generally results in a hard inquiry, which can affect your credit scores. So it’s helpful to only apply for credit you need.  

Monitoring Your Credit

As you’re building credit, it’s a good idea to check your credit reports often. That’s because credit card issuers typically use them when considering credit card applications. And you’ll want to know whether there are any errors on your credit reports.

One way to monitor your credit is with CreditWise from Capital One. CreditWise is a free tool that may let you monitor your VantageScore 3.0 credit score if you have sufficient credit history. Using CreditWise to keep an eye on your credit won’t hurt your score if you have one. CreditWise is free and available to everyone—even if you don’t have a Capital One account.

You can also get free copies of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228 to learn more.

Ready to Start Building Credit Today?

Getting approved for a card is just the beginning. Whichever one you end up with, it’s a good idea to use credit responsibly by doing things like consistently paying at least the minimum on time every month. If you can, paying off the balance each month can help you avoid interest charges.

Using credit responsibly may help you build your credit history. And once you establish a credit history, you might find you have more options the next time you decide to apply for a credit card.


Learn more about Capital One’s response to COVID-19 and resources available to customers. For information about COVID-19, head over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Government and private relief efforts vary by location and may have changed since this article was published. Consult a financial adviser or the relevant government agencies and private lenders for the most current information.

We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information, or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are solely responsible for their products and services, and all trademarks listed are the property of their respective owners.

Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many credit scoring models. It may not be the same model your lender uses, but it can be one accurate measure of your credit health. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Some monitoring and alerts may not be available to you if the information you enter at enrollment does not match the information in your credit file at (or you do not have a file at) one or more consumer reporting agencies.

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