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This article was last updated Sep 23, 2020. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
Applying for a credit card when you have bad credit can feel like the odds are stacked against you. Though you know a credit card can help you rebuild your credit score, you also know applying for a new card means the issuer will run a credit check, and bad credit will likely result in a denial. That’s where a card with no credit check may be your saving grace.
Cards with no credit check are rare, and those that do exist tend to be secured cards. With a secured credit card, you’re required to submit a security deposit. If you don’t pay back what you charge to the card, the issuer confiscates your deposit.
In other respects, a secured card functions like a normal credit card. You can use it to make purchases in the same way as an unsecured card, and as long as it reports to the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), responsible use of the card will help build your credit profile.
Through a review of cards available through CompareCards as well as from top issuers, we’ve selected two secured cards with no credit check that can help you rebuild your credit. We’ll examine where they stand out, what to watch out for and alternative options to consider.
- OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
- Self Visa® Credit Card
- Alternative secured cards to consider
- FAQs regarding credit checks
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
$200 - $3,000 Credit Line*
- No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
- The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
- Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
- 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
- We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search “OpenSky Card” in Facebook.)
- *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card
See additional details for OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Why we like this card: The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is available to consumers with limited/bad/poor credit and doesn’t require a credit check when you apply. However, you’ll still have to enter financial information, such as annual income, monthly housing payment and monthly housing payment type (rent, own or other). This card reports to the credit bureaus every month, so using it responsibly can help you improve your credit score.
Your credit limit can range from $200 to $3,000, depending on how much you deposit. And you can pay your security deposit with a debit card, through Western Union or by mailing a check or money order.
What to watch out for: There’s a $35 annual fee, which reduces your credit limit until paid off. For example, if your credit limit is $200, it will be reduced to $165 when the annual fee hits.
Self Visa® Credit Card
Why we like this card: The Self Visa® Credit Card is a solid choice for consumers willing to play the long game with building credit. Before you can get this secured card, you must first have a credit builder loan with Self, a financial technology company that helps those who might not have access to traditional financial products.
With a credit builder loan, you agree to pay a set amount each month, which Self puts into a certificate of deposit (CD) to be paid out to you at the end of the loan. Your payments are reported to the credit bureaus and thus help build credit.
Here’s what you need to do to become eligible for the Self Visa® Credit Card:
- Ensure your most recent three monthly loan payments were on time.
- Have at least $100 in savings progress on your account.
- Check that your account doesn’t have any outstanding fees.
As long as you meet the eligibility criteria, Self will approve you for the card, with no hard inquiry. You’re able to choose your credit limit and use your savings progress to cover the deposit, rather than having to make an additional security deposit just for the card.
Because the Self Visa® Credit Card reports to all three major credit bureaus, using this card responsibly can help improve your credit score. Plus, adding a credit card in addition to your existing credit builder loan improves your credit mix, which accounts for 10% of your score.
What to watch out for: The Self Visa® Credit Card charges a $25 annual fee. Also, you’re not able to use the card outside the United States. Finally, you should be aware that once you’ve paid off your credit builder loan, the amount you put toward the card’s security deposit will not be included in the payout. To get the deposit refunded, you must pay the card off in full and close it.
Alternative secured cards to consider
Consumers with less-than-stellar credit who are willing to undergo a credit check when applying may be able to qualify for the Discover it® Secured or the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®.
These two secured cards offer an opportunity to improve your credit score with no annual fee — whereas the cards listed above with no credit check charge an annual fee. Here are the details:
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
Why we like this card: Because the Discover it® Secured offers a cashback program, charges a $0 annual fee and provides a specific time frame for when your account might transition to an unsecured card, this is one of the best cards available for people with limited/bad/poor credit.
For rewards, 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. Plus, if you’re a new cardmember, 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.
And as mentioned above, Discover offers a clear timeline for when you might be able to transition to an unsecured card and get your deposit refunded. After eight months, the issuer will begin conducting monthly reviews of your account to check if you’re eligible. Note that you’re not guaranteed the upgrade, and Discover considers behavior across all your credit accounts (even those issued by other financial institutions).
What to watch out for: The Discover it® Secured will require a credit check when you apply. Other than that, this is a solid offering with no major drawbacks. Just be aware of the 22.99% variable APR, which is high but standard for cards aimed at applicants with limited/bad/poor credit. If you keep your utilization low and pay the card off each month, you can avoid incurring interest charges.
Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
Build Credit When Used Responsibly
$49, $99, or $200
- No annual fee
- Unlike a prepaid card, there is regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
- Accepted at millions of locations worldwide
- Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
- Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
- Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
- Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
See additional details for Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
Why we like this card: Not only is the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® available to applicants with limited/bad/poor credit for a $0 annual fee, but it also provides an opportunity to get a minimum security deposit lower than your initial credit line.
When you apply, Capital One will set your minimum deposit at either $49, $99 or $200. Whichever one you qualify for, your starting credit limit will be $200. Just know you’re not guaranteed to get one of the lower deposit amounts.
What to watch out for: The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® will require a credit check when you apply. Also, be aware that the APR is 26.99% (variable). To avoid incurring interest charges, pay off your balance in full each month.
FAQs regarding credit checks
Are there credit cards with no credit check and no deposit? Typically, if a credit card does not require a credit check, it’s going to be a secured card — meaning you must submit a security deposit. This protects the issuer in case you default.
However, even most secured credit cards require a credit check before you can be approved.
Is it possible to get a credit card with a soft inquiry only? In most cases, when you apply for a new credit card, it will result in a hard inquiry on your credit report. This generally dings your credit score anywhere from five to 10 points. However, consumers posting in online forums have indicated that some existing American Express cardholders may be able to apply for an additional American Express card and receive approval for the new card with only a soft inquiry.
Are there cards for bad credit with guaranteed approvals? You should never expect guaranteed approval when applying for a credit card. Even if you’re prequalified for a card, that simply means your chances are better, but you could still be denied after applying.
Is a card with no credit check good for people with no credit? Applying for a card with no credit check is most beneficial for consumers with bad credit who want to improve their credit score. If you have no credit, there are cards for beginners to help you establish credit history.
Do business credit cards require a personal credit check? Yes, small business cards require a personal credit check when you apply. That’s because as the business owner, you are personally responsible for guaranteeing repayment of all charges made to the credit card.