How to Apply for a Credit Card With No Security Deposit

Learn how to apply for a credit card without making a deposit


No doubt about it: If you’re exploring credit cards, you’ll find plenty out there. One big difference between them is that some require a security deposit—especially if you’re building or rebuilding your credit—and some don’t.

Read on for more about your options and how the right card could play an important role in your credit journey.

See If You’re Pre-Approved for a Card

One way to potentially avoid a security deposit: Shop around for a credit card that doesn’t require one. Consider looking at cards suggested for your credit score range.

You could start by checking into “pre-qualified” or “pre-approved” credit card offers that you get online or in the mail. When you see either of those terms, it typically means your credit score and other financial information matched at least some of the initial criteria needed to become a cardholder. 

You can also use Capital One’s pre-approval tool to see whether you’re pre-approved for a card. Pre-approval doesn't impact your credit score, so it can be helpful for comparing options and finding the right fit.

Apply for a Student Credit Card

Student credit cards like the Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One are designed for college students, who are generally new to credit. But you may not have to be a student to get one. 

Student credit cards can be used like traditional credit cards to make purchases in person and online. Benefits vary widely by issuer and may include things like cash back, no annual fee, no security deposit and card lock for added security. Be sure to check the offer terms before applying. 

A last thing to keep in mind about student cards is this: It’s possible that after you build a strong credit history by using your card responsibly, your lender may consider increasing your credit limit.

Become an Authorized User on Someone Else’s Account

Becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account—a parent who has good credit, for example—may be one way to avoid making a security deposit.

When someone adds you as an authorized user, you’re given access to use their account. In some cases, you may even get your own card to make purchases. The primary cardholder remains responsible for making payments on the card. 

Besides not making a deposit, there’s another potential benefit to being an authorized user: It could help you start building your own credit history if the credit card issuer reports the authorized user’s account activity to the credit bureaus. 

The primary cardholder’s responsible use of the card could help you start establishing a credit history. But as the Consumer Financial Credit Bureau (CFPB) advises, your own credit could be impacted negatively if the primary cardholder has a bad credit history or doesn’t pay the card as required by the issuer.

Reconsider Getting a Secured Credit Card With a Deposit

Secured credit cards are a lot like traditional cards, with one main difference: They require a deposit that serves as collateral. As the CFPB explains, “With most of these cards, your credit line starts out small. You put an amount equal to your credit limit in an account as a deposit.”

If your preference is to get a card without making a deposit, that’s understandable. But if you’re having trouble qualifying for other cards, think of it this way: A secured card might be the path to the traditional, no-deposit card you want. 

As you explore secured cards, remember that they may:

  • Help you build credit. This may be true whether you’re working toward rebuilding your credit or building it for the first time
  • Refund your security deposit. You may eventually get your secured card deposit back. With the Secured Mastercard® from Capital One, for example, there are two ways your deposit can be refunded: You may earn back your deposit as a statement credit by using your card responsibly, or Capital One will refund it when you close your account and pay your balance in full.
  • Pave the way to a traditional, unsecured card. Of course, the timing depends on your situation and goals. But if you use the card responsibly, some credit card companies may eventually allow you to upgrade to a different card that may have added rewards or benefits. 

Improve Your Credit and Chances of Getting an Unsecured Card

During your search, you may find that you only qualify for secured cards that require a deposit. If that’s the case, you could work on improving your credit before trying again for a no-deposit card. 

Keep in mind that improving your credit can take time. But these seven steps for improving your credit could help:

  1. Check your credit scores often.
  2. Know some factors that go into a typical credit score.
  3. Keep an eye on your credit reports for errors.
  4. Learn how often you can check your credit reports.
  5. Understand which common credit card mistakes to avoid.
  6. Make payments on time, and keep credit card balances low.
  7. Beware of quick credit score fixes.

Reviewing Your Options for No-Deposit Cards

Hopefully, you’ve learned more about cards that do and don’t require a security deposit.

It may also help to keep your credit top of mind by monitoring it regularly. CreditWise from Capital One is an easy way to monitor your VantageScore® 3.0 credit score and TransUnion® credit report without hurting your credit score. And it’s free for everyone, not just Capital One customers.

You can also get free copies of your credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.


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.

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 is an 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.

Find Out if You’re Pre-Approved

You could start building credit when you use a credit card responsibly.

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