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This article was last updated Apr 03, 2020. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
If you recently immigrated to the U.S., it may be difficult to be approved for a credit card due to a lack of a U.S. credit history.
In the U.S., your credit history plays a critical role in determining whether you’ll be approved for an apartment, car loan, mortgage and sometimes even a job. Credit cards can serve as a great tool to help establish or build your credit, as the account and payment activity is reported to the credit bureaus.
Based on our research of cards available through CompareCards, as well as top cards offered by major issuers, we compiled a list of the best credit cards for immigrants. These cards require little or no previous credit history while also reporting payment activity, which will then go into creating your credit score. Once approved for one of these cards, you can begin your U.S. credit journey toward building a reputable credit score.
- Discover it® Secured
- Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
- Citi® Secured Mastercard®
- Petal® Visa® Credit Card
- Which credit card is best for me?
Discover it® Secured
2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically
Credit line will equal your security deposit of $200 or more*
No annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment. No penalty APR*
- No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
- It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
- Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
- Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
- Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
- Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
- INTRO 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! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
- Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Discover it® Secured
In addition to helping you build credit, the Discover it® Secured card offers cash back on every purchase — which is rare for a secured credit card. Cardholders earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically. Additionally, for new card members only, Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
The security deposit, which serves as your credit line, will range from $200 to $2,500, depending on your income and ability to pay. Plus, starting at eight months, Discover will automatically review your account to see if you qualify to receive your security deposit back and convert you to an unsecured card.
Additional Discover it® Secured details:
- 22.99% variable APR on purchases
- APR of 10.99% for 6 months on balance transfers, then 22.99% variable APR
- Free access to your FICO credit score
Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
If you want the possibility of paying a lower security deposit, you should take a look at the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®. The card requires a refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200, for an initial credit line of $200. After making five monthly payments on time, you can get access to a higher credit line.
Additional Capital One® Secured Mastercard® details:
- 26.99% (variable) APR
- Account and security alerts
- Ability to view monthly recurring transactions
- Virtual card numbers from Eno
- $0 fraud liability
- Travel accident insurance
- Extended warranty
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- 24-hour travel assistance services
- Foreign transaction fees: None
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is designed for customers with little or no credit history. Because the card also reports to the three major credit bureaus, you can build your credit by demonstrating responsible card usage.
Depending on your income and debt, you will be required to pay a security deposit of $200 to $2,500 — which will serve as your line of credit.
Additional Citi® Secured Mastercard® details:
- 22.49% (variable) APR
- Free online access to your FICO score
- Citi Identity Theft Solutions
- $0 liability on unauthorized charges
- Automatic account alerts
- Ability to choose your payment due date
Petal® Visa® Credit Card
The Petal® Visa® Credit Card is an ideal alternative to a secured card if you want to build or establish credit, but don’t want to pay a security deposit. The card does not require credit history or a security deposit, and offers a credit limit of $500 to $10,000.
If you have a credit report, the Petal® Visa® Credit Card will take it into account when determining your card eligibility. However, if your credit history is limited or non-existent, your eligibility will instead be based on information related to your bank account(s), such as income and monthly bill payments.
The Petal® Visa® Credit Card charges no fees, and cardholders earn rewards on card purchases. Starting at 1% cash back when the card is first used, the rewards are raised to 1.25% after six on-time monthly payments and then up to 1.5% cash back after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
Additional Petal® Visa® Credit Card details:
- 12.99% - 29.49% variable APR
- Ability to track all spending in one place
- Freeze your account at any time
- 24/ 7 customer support
- Up to 10% back with select merchants
Which credit card is best for me?
If you’re new to the U.S., signing up for a credit card is a great way to begin establishing a credit profile. But whether applying for a secured card or a traditional card, you’ll want to select one that charges limited fees and reports to the three major credit bureaus — as each of the cards in this post do.
But if you feel limited by your credit card options, you can also become an authorized user on a family member or friend’s existing credit card account. Just keep in mind that if the primary cardholder fails to make payments on time, your credit history may be negatively impacted.