Credit cards are a convenient way to make purchases, pay bills, and book travel arrangements. As an added benefit, many credit cards offer cash back, points, or miles on your spending, which can save you money. A credit card can also help with establishing and building a good credit score. But what is the easiest credit card to get when you have a limited credit history or poor credit? Here's a closer look at which cards may be within reach.
Credit card issuers differ in terms of what it takes to be approved. But generally, these factors are considered when you apply for a card:
These things give card issuers an idea of your ability and likelihood to pay back what you spend with a credit card. Credit card companies can also perform a hard inquiry of your credit report to learn more about your credit history. That can trim a few points off your credit score.1
Checking your own credit reports before applying for a credit card won't affect your credit score.
The easiest credit card to get is different for everyone since it will depend on your credit score and the other factors listed above. The credit cards that are available to you may also depend on whether:
If any of those apply to you, there are some specialized types of credit cards that will be easier to get than others. They include student credit cards, starter credit cards, and secured credit cards.
Student credit cards are designed for college students who are just beginning to establish their credit history. These cards can offer rewards, and if they do, they're typically geared toward purchases students spend the most money on, such as dining out or gas.
A student credit card can be easier to get than a regular one if you have no credit history at all or a limited one. The federal CARD Act requires you to be at least 21 to get a student credit card in your name, although you can apply as young as 18 if you have sufficient income or a cosigner who is at least 21.2
Starter credit cards are also designed for people who are just starting out with credit but who aren't necessarily students. These types of cards are more likely to charge annual fees and carry a higher annual percentage rate (APR).
Secured credit cards work just like unsecured credit cards except that they require a cash deposit to open. This deposit typically doubles as your credit limit. The difference is that a standard secured credit card will usually require a hard check of your credit to get approved. Once you have had a secured card for a period of time, and demonstrated that you use credit responsibly, you may be eligible to graduate to a regular, unsecured card.
Before you apply for a starter or secured card, make sure the credit card company reports your activity to at least one of the major credit bureaus. Otherwise, using the card won't help you to build credit.
Having no credit means you don't have any credit history at all. A thin credit file means you have some credit history, but it's not enough to generate a credit score. In either case, you could be "invisible" to credit card companies when trying to apply for new credit.
In that case, the easiest credit card to get may be a starter card or secured credit card. Examples of cards you might qualify for include:
If you have fair credit, rather than no credit or bad credit, then you might have a different range of credit card options to choose from. Fair credit on the FICO credit scoring scale generally means a score between 580 and 669.
Here are some of the easiest credit cards to get with fair credit:
If you're considering a credit card that offers rewards, be sure to balance the rewards you're likely to earn against the card's annual fee (if any).
Unsecured credit cards require no cash deposit to open. It's possible to get some unsecured cards if your credit is in the fair, or even bad, range.
If you have poor credit or no credit, consider these unsecured card options:
SOURCE: Rebecca Lake