Credit cards with no deposit: what to consider

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

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

Key takeaways

  • Credit cards that don’t require a deposit are referred to as unsecured. 
  • If a credit card requires a deposit to open the account, it’s referred to as secured. 
  • Secured credit cards may be a good option for people trying to build credit who aren’t as likely to be approved for unsecured cards.
  • Before you apply, you could see if you’re pre-approved, which lets you check cards you might be eligible for without affecting your credit scores.

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What are credit cards with no security deposit?

Unsecured credit cards don’t require security deposits. They’re probably what comes to mind for most people when they think about credit cards. 

Secured credit cards function the same, but they require refundable security deposits. The deposit acts as collateral and backs the borrower’s line of credit in case they’re unable to pay. 

Because of the deposit, secured cards typically have different eligibility requirements than unsecured cards do. Those differences might make them good options for people who aren’t as likely to be  approved for unsecured cards. 

How to get a credit card with no money down

Here are 5 options to consider if you’re researching credit cards without a security deposit:

Option 1: See if you’re pre-approved for a credit card with no deposit

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 initial criteria needed to become a cardholder. 

You can also use Capital One’s pre-approval tool to see if you qualify for a credit card with no deposit. Pre-approval doesn’t impact your credit score, so it can be helpful for comparing options and finding the right fit.

Option 2: Explore credit cards for fair and building credit

It may make sense to explore credit cards for fair and building credit from Capital One

There are also student credit cards that are designed for college students who are new to credit. 

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 rewards, no annual fees, or no security deposits. Be sure to check the offer terms before applying. 

And it’s possible that after you build a strong credit history by using your card responsibly, your lender may consider increasing your credit limit.

Option 3: Become an authorized user on someone else’s account

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 having to make a deposit, there’s another potential benefit to being an authorized user: It could help you start building your own positive credit history. But that’s only if the credit card issuer reports the authorized user’s account activity to the credit bureaus. 

And it’s important to note that negative reports as a result of things like late payments could have the opposite effect.

Option 4: Improve your credit and chances of getting an unsecured card

Improving your credit can take time. But these seven steps 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.

Option 5: Start building credit with a secured credit card

Secured credit cards are a lot like traditional cards except they require a deposit that serves as collateral. As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 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.” But issuers like Capital One might offer credit lines higher than the deposit. 

A secured card might provide a path to traditional, no-deposit cards. But it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

  • It takes responsible use to build credit, whether you’re working toward rebuilding your credit or establishing it. That means doing things like paying your statement on time every month.
  • You may eventually get your secured card deposit back. With a Capital One secured card, for example, your deposit can be refunded in two ways: 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.
  • If you use the card responsibly, some credit card issuers may eventually allow you to upgrade to a different card that may have added rewards or benefits. 

How to apply for a credit card with no deposit

For a more comprehensive guide, check out how to get a credit card in 6 steps. But here are some of the basics: 

1. Review and monitor your credit

If you’re new to credit or you’re working to rebuild your credit, consider looking at cards suggested for your credit score range. Not sure what your credit scores are? 

One way to check your credit is with CreditWise from Capital One. CreditWise shows you your VantageScore® 3.0 credit score and monitors credit reports from TransUnion® and Experian®, two of the three major credit bureaus. Best of all, CreditWise is free for everyone—not just Capital One customers—and using it won’t hurt your credit scores.

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

2. Evaluate the different card options available

Understanding which credit cards are available based on your credit score can help you narrow down your options. It can be helpful to consider your needs and financial goals when choosing which credit card to apply for. 

3. Get pre-approved

Getting pre-approved can help you understand which credit cards you might be eligible for. With Capital One’s pre-approval tool, you can see if you’re pre-approved for card offers without harming your credit scores. 

4. Understand various credit card terms and conditions

Reviewing the terms and conditions before you apply for a credit card can help you avoid surprises once you become a cardholder. Here are a few common credit card fees and terms to learn about:

  • Annual fees
  • Annual percentage rate (APR)
  • Cash advance fees
  • New cardholder bonus offer
  • Foreign transaction fees

5. Determine the necessary documents and information

When you go through the application process, the credit card issuer may require certain information such as:

  • Full name and birthdate
  • Legal address
  • Social Security number (SSN)
  • Total annual income
  • Employment status

6. Figure out how you’ll apply

There may be different ways to apply for credit cards with no security deposit, including:

  • Online
  • Over the phone
  • In person
  • By mail

Credit cards with no deposit in a nutshell

Whether you’re considering an unsecured or a secured credit card, it’s good to get an understanding of your credit scores, compare card options and consider getting pre-approved before applying. 

And if it turns out that a secured credit card is your best option, know that it can be a great stepping stone. With responsible use over time, you may be able to improve your credit score, get your security deposit back and even become eligible for a credit card with no security deposit required.

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