Getting a credit card with no deposit can be easy if you have an established credit history with a good or excellent credit score. But if you’re just establishing your credit history or are trying to rebuild your credit score, it can be much more challenging to apply for a credit card with no deposit.
For some, a secured credit card (one requiring a security deposit) might seem like the only option, but there are other paths to building your credit history. In this guide, we’ll cover how to find and apply for credit cards with no deposit — and what steps you can take to get closer to approval if you’re getting denied.
What Is a Credit Card Security Deposit?
Because of their established credit history and decent credit scores, many borrowers can open credit cards with no money down (or any other kind of collateral). This is called an unsecured credit card. However, if you don’t have any credit history or have a low credit score, you might find that credit card issuers will only offer you a secured credit card — meaning it requires a security deposit.
A credit card security deposit is refundable and often equal to the value of the credit limit on the card. Typically, the deposit amount ranges from $50 to $300.
While going this route can’t help you with unexpected expenses (as with a debit card, you are technically only able to spend money you already have), it can be a good way to build credit. However, you’ll want to ask the card issuer if they report to the credit bureaus, just to ensure they do.
Eventually, you may be able to graduate to an unsecured card if you consistently make on-time payments — one of the cardinal credit card rules.
Applying for a Credit Card With No Security Deposit
Applying for a secured credit card requiring a deposit might not be appealing to every potential borrower, especially because you need the money for the deposit upfront. These cards also typically have higher rates and fees. Fortunately, you have other options when shopping for a credit card.
Checking Your Approval for a Card
There’s no such thing as guaranteed credit card approval with no deposit. However, if you’re receiving emails or snail mail with credit card offers saying you’re preapproved, you might find success when you apply. You’ll still have to go through the formal application process and could ultimately get rejected, but getting a preapproved offer is a good start towards getting a credit card.
You can also proactively check your approval for a credit card online. Take a look at your credit score, and then look online at offers for credit cards with no deposit that include your credit score in their target range.
Becoming an Authorized User
If you aren’t having success getting approved for a credit card on your own, ask a parent, family member, or trusted friend about being an authorized user on their credit card. As an authorized user, you’ll receive a credit card with your name on it and can use it like a traditional credit card, but you will not be the primary account holder.
The primary account holder is the one responsible for making on-time payments and monitoring credit usage. As an authorized user, you won’t have control over things like credit limit, and the primary cardholder can even set spending limits on your card.
However, if the primary cardholder uses the credit card responsibly — making regular, on-time payments and keeping credit utilization low — you will likely see a positive impact on your own credit score. Eventually, your score might improve enough for you to try applying for your own card again.
If someone makes you an authorized user on their card, however, it’s important to be proactive about paying them what you owe each month. Never rack up credit card charges beyond what you’ve discussed with the cardholder. If you abuse your card privileges, it will affect your credit score and the score of the account holder — and the friend or family member will be solely liable for paying off your debts. However, if there is a charge to the card that you don’t agree with, there is the option of requesting a credit card chargeback.
Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly
Getting a Student Credit Card or a Subprime Card
If the thought of affecting someone else’s credit score as an authorized user makes you uncomfortable, you aren’t out of options. You might be eligible to apply for a student card or a subprime card.
• Student credit card: Most student cards do not require a security deposit and are designed for students who have no credit history. Some cards might even offer cash back rewards and no annual fees. However, as the name implies, you must be able to prove you are a student as part of the application process.
• Subprime credit card: A subprime card is an unsecured card (i.e., no-deposit card) designed for borrowers with bad credit (generally a score below 580 in the FICO score model). While subprime credit cards provide a way for bad-credit borrowers to get a credit card with no deposit, they often come with their own drawbacks. Typically, subprime cards charge an application fee; some might have annual or even monthly fees. Credit limits tend to be low.
Recommended: How to Get a Credit Card for the First Time
Transitioning to an Unsecured Card
If you have no luck with a student or subprime card and can’t become an authorized user, you may need to consider applying for a secured credit with a deposit after all. Although it might not be ideal, it can be a good first step toward building your credit history.
If you make regular on-time payments, the credit card issuer might eventually transition you to an unsecured card. Alternatively, you can be proactive: After building your credit history and boosting your score over several months with a secured credit card, apply for a credit card with no deposit through another issuer. You might find that you’re more successful this time around.
Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due
What to Know About the Effects of Your Credit Score
An unsecured credit card can potentially affect your credit score if the credit card issuer reports to the credit bureaus. Before opening a credit card with a security deposit, ask the issuer if they report to the bureaus.
If they do, regular on-time payment could boost your score over time. On the flipside, late or missed payments could adversely affect your score.
Getting a No-Deposit Credit Card: What You Should Know
So, should you get a no-deposit credit card? In general, these unsecured cards offer greater flexibility at the start because you aren’t required to pay a security deposit.
However, opening a credit card of any type is a big decision — and not one to be taken lightly. It’s important to consider the potential effects of opening a credit card and to be aware of how much a credit card costs. For example, if you max out a credit card with a high interest rate, you might find yourself drowning in the fast-growing debt it creates.
Before opening a no-deposit credit card (or any credit card), think about the implications it can have on your finances, and consider alternative ways of establishing credit, like credit-builder loans or even small personal loans.
However, these options don’t offer some of the same perks and protections that a credit card does, such as credit card chargebacks. If a credit card feels like the right step for you, begin your research process online.
Recommended: What is a Charge Card
Credit cards without a security deposit, called unsecured credit cards, can be appealing because there is no money down at the start of the loan. However, borrowers without a credit history or who are struggling with bad credit may find it challenging to get approved for a no-deposit credit card. If applying for a secured credit card (i.e., one with a security deposit) is not ideal for your financial situation, you can ask to become an authorized user on someone else’s card or apply for a student or subprime credit card.
Looking for a credit card that rewards you for everyday spending? For a limited time, new credit card holders† who also sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit can start earning 3% cash back rewards on all eligible credit card purchases for 365 days*. Offer ends 6/30/22.
Do all credit cards require a deposit?
Only secured credit cards require a security deposit. Those with no credit history or bad credit scores might only be eligible for secured credit cards. If you have a good credit score, you can apply for a credit card without a deposit.
Can I get a credit card if I have no credit history?
It is possible to get a credit card with no credit history. A secured credit card requires a security deposit but makes it easier for borrowers with no credit history to get approved. Students can also consider student credit cards, which are often issued to student borrowers without any credit history.
What credit score is required for approval?
While having a good to excellent credit score (typically 670+) is ideal for getting the best credit cards with the lowest rates, some credit card issuers do offer cards for borrowers with fair or even poor credit (meaning scores of 669 and below). These cards might have higher fees and fewer perks and may require a security deposit.
†SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS PROSPECTIVELY BASED ON MARKET CONDITIONS AND BORROWER ELIGIBILITY. Your eligibility for a SoFi Credit Card Account or a subsequently offered product or service is subject to the final determination by The Bank of Missouri (“TBOM”) (“Issuer”), as issuer, pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Please allow up to 30 days from the date of submission to process your application. The card offer referenced in this communication is only available to individuals who are at least 18 years of age (or of legal age in your state of residence), and who reside in the United States.
*You will need to maintain a qualifying Direct Deposit every month with SoFi Checking and Savings in order to continue to receive this promotional cash back rate. Qualifying Direct Deposits are defined as deposits from enrolled member’s employer, payroll, or benefits provider via ACH deposit. Deposits that are not from an employer (such as check deposits; P2P transfers such as from PayPal or Venmo, etc.; merchant transactions such as from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.; and bank ACH transfers not from employers) do not qualify for this promotion. A maximum of 36,000 rewards points can be earned from this limited-time offer. After the promotional period ends or once you have earned the maximum points offered by this promotion, your cash back earning rate will revert back to 2%. 36,000 rewards points are worth $360 when redeemed into SoFi Checking and Savings, SoFi Money, SoFi Invest, Crypto, SoFi Personal Loan, SoFi Private Student Loan or Student Loan Refinance and are worth $180 when redeemed as a SoFi Credit Card statement credit.
Promotion Period: 4/18/2022-6/30/2022
Eligible Participants: All new members who apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card, open a SoFi Checking and Savings account, and set up Direct Deposit transactions (“Direct Deposit”) into their SoFi Checking and Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi Credit Card members who set up Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi members who have already enrolled in Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account prior to the promotion period, and who apply and get approved for a SoFi Credit Card during the promotion period are eligible. Existing SoFi members who already have the SoFi Credit Card and previously set up Direct Deposit through SoFi Money or SoFi Checking & Savings are not eligible for this promotion.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio