Skip to content

12 Best Credit Cards for Bad or No Credit in 2023: Guaranteed Approval With No Deposit

Oliver Wyman and Experian’s 2022 report on access to credit says that 11% of adult Americans are credit invisible, 8%—unscorable, and 22% have subprime credit scores. That’s 106 million Americans who can’t access prime credit cards and loans. Immigrants and people under 25 are especially likely to be affected.

But, get this—you absolutely can apply for a credit card with bad credit, average credit, or no credit at all.

This article will help you choose from:12-best-credit-cards

  • Credit cards with limits that’ll last you more than one trip to the grocery store.
  • Starter credit cards, if you’re only testing the waters.
  • Second chance credit cards for people with bad credit.
  • Credit cards for students (with the hottest benefits!).

Read on to find out how you can qualify, even if you don’t have a perfect credit score (yet).

Is Guaranteed Credit Card Approval a Myth? 

We all hate to be rejected, whether it’s a job application or a date. When it comes to applying for a credit card there’s also the risk of lowering your credit score. If you’re denied, it’ll leave a record—a bit like getting an “Undatable” status on your Tinder profile for everyone to see.

No wonder it’s tempting to look for a “guaranteed approval” card to lower the chances of being given the cold shoulder.

You won’t like hearing this, but the “guaranteed approval” is a myth. You need to meet a set of requirements for every card you apply for, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get it. But hey, only death and taxes are certain, as the saying goes. 

When people talk about credit cards with guaranteed approval, they mean credit cards created for subpar credit (for the 58 million Americans with subprime credit scores). They have less strict requirements when it comes to your score. 

Still, the lender might check your credit history, income, age, or Social Security number. Getting denied a “guaranteed approval” credit card is like being turned down if you’re a charming millionaire—hard, but not impossible.

Soft inquiries vs. hard pull: what affects your credit score?

With many credit card companies, you can check if you pre-qualify for their card—they call it pre-approval, and it can take seconds. Your credit score shouldn’t be affected, as it’s a type of soft inquiry. It’s like when you check your own score.

A hard inquiry (“hard pull”), on the other hand, can harm your credit score (at least temporarily). That’s what lenders do when they review your credit report and history. Hard inquiries will stay on your credit report for two years. (That’s one of the reasons you shouldn’t apply for twenty credit cards at once.)

Checking your credit report periodically is a healthy financial habit. You can request your report from Credit Karma for free. 

Bad credit: how to read credit scores

Your credit score shows your credit behavior as a number, based on data in your credit report.

Of all the scales and methods to calculate your credit score, 90% of American financial institutions will use the FICO score to see if you qualify for their cards and loans:

  • Exceptional: 800+ 
  • Very Good: 740–799
  • Good: 670–739
  • Fair: 580–669
  • Poor: 300–579

We’ll be focusing on the bottom two here (if you were in the top ones, you wouldn’t be reading this.) Yes, you’ve got some catching up to do since the average credit score in the US is at a historic high of 716 points (according to FICO’s annual report), but you’re in the right hands.

Unsecured Credit Cards = No Deposit

Secured credit cards, for which you need to put down a cash security deposit when you open an account, are more common. Your credit limit usually equals the amount you’ve deposited. They’re less risky for the lender. If you miss a payment, they’ll cover it with your security deposit. 

Maybe you don’t want to pay at least $200 upfront, so you’ll go for the “guaranteed credit card approval no deposit” option. We’ve compiled a list of the best unsecured credit cards that won’t require a deposit. 

Best “Guaranteed Approval” Credit Cards With $1000 Limits 

Unsecured credit cards for bad and fair credit have a downside—low credit limits. A ceiling of $200 is more likely to make you want to cry than the latest rom-com. But what if we told you there are outliers with limits over $1,000?

Top Pick–Petal 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa 

  • No annual fee or other fees
  • 15.99%–29.99% variable APR
  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases (up to 1.5% after 12 payments, and 10% through Petal Offers)
  • $300–$10,000 initial credit limit

Why we love it

Petal 2 truly stands out from the rest of “guaranteed approval” unsecured credit cards for bad credit. It scores high in every category.

“No fees forever” is a mouth-watering offer, and the card offers a minimum of 1% cash back (up to 10% for selected merchants). 

Petal 2’s best feature is its high credit limit. You can potentially qualify for a ceiling of $10,000. That’s fifty times the smallest limit.

What to look out for

This card is for people with limited and poor credit, with one exception. If you filed for bankruptcy in the past 48 months, you’ll be rejected.

Your APR and credit limit will depend on your “creditworthiness”, so the first-rate options are not a given. Still, a credit limit of up to $1,000 is within your reach.

Avant Credit Card 

  • $0–$59 annual fee
  • 27.99% variable APR
  • 3% cash advance fee 
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $300–$2,000 initial credit limit

Why we like it

This one is for people with a fair score. If you’re a couple of months into your credit journey, or making a comeback after a stumble, Avant Credit Card would be a great stepping stone to excellent credit.

Avant is relatively inexpensive for its category—there are no foreign transaction fees and likely no annual fee, either. Its high credit limit helps you keep your credit utilization ratio under 30%.

What to look out for

Pay your balance on time and keep your credit utilization to a minimum—your APR is steep and Avant may lower your credit limit if you drop the ball. 

Merrick Bank Double Your Line Mastercard 

  • $0–$72 annual fee
  • 22.45%–30.70% Variable APR
  • 4% cash advance fee, 2% foreign transaction fee
  • $500–$1,350 initial credit limit (doubles up to $2,700 after seven months)

Why we like it (and why we’re weary of it)

Merrick Bank Double Your Line is a double-edged sword. It offers a sizable credit limit for its category (it’ll double after seven months, if you put down at least the minimum payment). But it’s also costly.

The APR is crazy, and the fees are hefty. Choose this card if the credit limit is what you’re after.

On the plus side, this card will help you keep your credit utilization low. The annual fee is still much smaller than the deposit for secured credit cards. You also get the standard Mastercard perks and monthly reports to the three credit bureaus, so (re)building your credit should be a walk in the park.

Best Credit Cards for Building Credit: No Deposit

Building credit is smoother and faster than fixing it. Lenders can be more lenient towards newcomers than those who are returning after a rough patch. If you’re new, use this to your advantage.

Top Pick–Tomo Credit Card 

  • No annual fee
  • 0% APR forever
  • No other fees or interest charges
  • 1% cash back on every purchase
  • Linked to your bank account with the auto-pay function
  • $100–$10,000 initial credit limit

Why we love it

Tomo is almost a hybrid between a credit and debit card. You can’t carry a balance (read, won’t end up in debt), as it automatically pays your charges every week. This also means you don’t have to fret over your APR or any interest charges.

The 1% cash back is already good for a credit card with no deposit, but Tomo also has a lucrative referral program. For each approved referral, you’ll get an additional 1% cash back for the next three months—up to 20%. 

But wait, there’s more. Tomo Credit Card offers a ton of other benefits through its partnership with Lyft, DoorDash, and HelloFresh (covering all areas of your daily expenses). 

What to look out for

There’s no credit check when you apply (yay!), but you need to link your bank account—checking, savings, or even investment—so they can evaluate your financial profile. 

This card is ideal if you have a steady income or substantial savings, but no credit history. You’re almost guaranteed an approval with any (or no) credit score, but your initial credit limit will be determined by your financial history and paying power. And when it comes to the credit limit, the more, the merrier!

But watch out, your account will be frozen if you can’t pay off your weekly charges. Use this card to learn healthy financial habits, build credit, and move on to top-tier credit cards in the future. 

Mission Lane Cash Back Visa Credit Card

  • $0 annual fee
  • 26.99%–29.99% variable APR
  • 3% cash advance fee, 3% foreign transaction fee
  • 1%–1.5% cash back on eligible purchases
  • Automatic reviews for credit limit increase
  • $300–$1,000 initial credit limit

Why we like it

Frequently raised credit limits are the highlight of this credit card. You can qualify for a $1,000 credit limit from the beginning, and it’ll be raised automatically if you make the first six payments on time. And that’s just for starters.

The cash back is always sweet when you deal with guaranteed approval credit cards for bad/no credit. With this card, you can earn solid rewards, while enjoying no annual fee. 

When you apply online, Mission Lane boasts an instant decision on your application. It’s a great choice when you need a card ASAP.

What to look out for

Pay attention to the high APR and other fees, and be careful not to overspend or skip payments.

This credit card is a good option for people with no credit history or below-average credit. However, if your credit score is approaching 300, you won’t qualify for Mission Lane Cash Back. 

Chime Credit Builder

  • No annual fee
  • 0% APR forever
  • No interest, no other fees
  • No credit check to apply
  • No minimum deposit requirement
  • You determine your credit limit

Why we like it

We know, we know, this is cheating. Chime Credit Builder is technically a secured credit card— but it’s not your traditional one. For one, the money you transfer to your credit card is not a security deposit that is out of your reach until you close your account—with Chime, you can use this money to pay off your monthly charges. 

There’s also no minimum requirement. You set your own credit limit, however big or small. You can also move this money back to your checking account any time. 

The coolest part is that Chime doesn’t report your credit utilization. Even if you deposit $100, and use all of it this month, it’s not going to ruin your credit.

There are no fees, no interest charges, and the card encourages you to spend the money you already have. Perfect for building your credit fast. 

What to look out for

You’ll need a Chime checking account to qualify for this credit card, but you can apply for one in a matter of minutes. They won’t run a credit check when you apply, which practically guarantees an instant approval.

This might seem odd if you’re looking for credit cards with no deposit, but this credit card is a bit like a reloadable prepaid debit (with the extra perk of reporting to the three major credit bureaus). You can always start slow, if you don’t have a lot of money to deposit right away. 

Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit (With No Deposit)

We have a larger selection of reliable unsecured credit cards for bad credit if you want to dig deeper. Here are our top picks.

Our PickDestiny Mastercard

  • $59–$99 annual fee
  • 24.9% APR
  • No cash advance fee during the first year
  • 1% foreign transaction fee
  • $300 credit limit

Why we like it

Destiny Mastercard is a solid candidate to help you fix your credit. You can apply for it with a bad credit score and even derogatory marks on your report. To be sure you’ll get approved, you can pre-qualify with no impact on your credit score. 

Even though Destiny doesn’t offer any rewards, the fees—bar the annual fee—are relatively low for this type of card. No cash advance fee for the first year is a rare and attractive benefit.

The card also offers $0 Fraud Liability and other identity theft protections as part of Mastercard benefits.

What to look out for

Unfortunately, you’ll get a fixed credit limit with no increase even after repairing your credit.

Check out our full review of Destiny Mastercard for an in-depth look at this card.

Surge Platinum Mastercard 

  • $75–$99 annual fee
  • 24.99%–29.99% variable APR
  • 5% cash advance fee, 0%–3% foreign transaction fee
  • No maintenance fee in the first year
  • $300–$1,000 initial credit limit (doubles after six months)

Why we like it

It ain’t stellar when it comes to fees, but you’ll get a high credit limit. Be responsible, make your payments on time, and after six months it’ll double to $2,000—which is rare for this kind of cards. 

Surge embraces customers with really low credit scores. You’ll qualify easily even after bankruptcy. 

It’s a traditional, even slightly boring, option. But it’s reliable, and has all the typical protections Mastercard offers. 

Ultimately, Surge is not the card you want to stick to for long, but it’ll help you boost your credit score and upgrade to superior options in no time. 

What to look out for

The fees and APR are pretty brutal. It’s our advice for all credit cards, but be careful and pay off your balance in full and on time every month. 

Note that a checking account in Celtic Bank is required to get Surge Mastercard.

Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit

  • $75 annual fee in the first year (then $99)
  • 26.99% variable APR
  • 1% cash back rewards
  • 8% cash advance fee, 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Automatic reviews for credit limit increase
  • $300 initial credit limit

Why we like it

Two things that make this credit card stand out from its competitors are: cash back rewards—though rather modest—and periodic reviews of your credit limit. 

Many cards for people with the lowest credit scores have a fixed limit. No credit-line increase makes it harder to dig your way out of bad credit (remember credit utilization rate?). You won’t have this problem with Credit One Bank Platinum Visa.

What to look out for

Don’t take out cash advances because of the sky-high fee. There’s an additional $19 annual fee if you add an authorized user to your account.

Best Credit Cards for Students With No Credit

We’ve saved the best for last. Here’s a selection of student credit cards

Why student credit cards are the sweetest: 

  • Nobody expects you to have exceptional credit as a student. These cards are easy to get.
  • They offer competitive rewards and unique perks.
  • You can keep using your credit card even after graduation. It automatically becomes a regular credit card, while you get to keep the rewards and low fees you’ve been enjoying.

Top Pick–Discover It Student Cash Back

  • No annual fee
  • 0% introductory APR
  • 15.99%–24.99% variable APR after six months
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 5% cash back on rotating categories, 1% on all other purchases 
  • Unlimited Cashback Match 
  • $300–$1,000 initial credit limit

Why we love it

Not many starter credit cards offer amazing rewards. This one does. You can earn 5% cash back on purchases in rotating categories (from Amazon.com and digital wallets until the end of 2022, for example) and an extra 1% (everywhere else). 

Unlimited Cashback Match means that Discover will automatically double your rewards at the end of your first year. If you earn $250, you’ll get $500. We wish we could go back to being students just to qualify for this credit card!

What to look out for

The 5% cash back rewards are capped. Rewards are limited to $75 per quarter (that’s $1,500 spent in every category).

Discover cards have limited acceptance abroad, unlike Visa or Mastercard. If you’re planning to hit the road, consider another option. We have a suggestion below.

Don’t forget to log into your account and activate your quarterly spending categories. They must be activated manually every time.

Discover It Student Chrome

  • No annual fee
  • 0% introductory APR
  • 15.99%–24.99% variable APR after six months
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations 
  • Unlimited Cashback Match
  • $300–$1,000 initial credit limit

Why we like it

Your eyes are not betraying you—this card is eerily similar to the cash back version. The rewards are a bit less fancy, but the flat rate has its own benefits.

This card would work best for those who are less organized or have a lot on their plate. You don’t need to activate the rotating categories, so you never risk forgetting about them. It’s also great for students who own a car!

What to look out for

You can earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 per quarter.

Like its sibling, Discover It Student Chrome has limited acceptance abroad. 

Author’s Pick–Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

  • No annual fee
  • 0% introductory APR
  • 16.99%–26.99% variable APR after 18 billing cycles
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 25,000 welcome bonus points offer (if you spend over 1,000 in the first 90 days)
  • Earn 1.5 points for every $1 spent 
  • $500–$1,500 initial credit limit 

Why I love it

You never forget your first—credit card. I’ll always have a soft spot for Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students because it was the first credit card I qualified for (with no credit history whatsoever). This indigo beauty is still a mighty weapon in my arsenal—it helped me build credit to qualify for superior cards after graduation. 

It’s perfect for studying abroad or traveling overseas, as it has no foreign transaction fee. 

A welcome bonus of 25,000 points (if you spend over $1,000 in the first 90 days) amounts to $250, meaning you get 25% of your money back. You can redeem these points as a statement credit and spend it on flying, renting a car, eating out, and more. Every additional dollar you spend earns you 1.5 points. 

Unlike the Discover cards above, this one is processed by Visa and is accepted worldwide. I’ve traveled everywhere, from Europe to New Zealand, and had no problems using it. 

What to look out for

The introductory 0% APR is only for 18 months. Your purchase APR will be on the higher end after that.

Foreign transaction fees might be low, but other fees are high. The ATM cash advance fee, for instance, is 5% (and at least $10). I learned this the hard way when I withdrew $10 in cash only to get hit with an equivalent fee.

A Quick Note on How to Compare Credit Cards 

Credit card agreements hold plenty of information about your card. Here’s what you need to pay special attention to. We’ve tried to highlight these four categories in our ranking so that you could make an informed decision about your next credit card. 

APR

Your APR is arguably the most important information you need to know about your card. It tells you how much interest you’ll pay for carrying your balance. 

As for the APR—the lower, the better. Zero is the dream. Ideally, you’d want to get a special offer of a 0% introductory APR that will make that dream come true. Just don’t forget to set a wake-up call for when the introductory offer expires (usually after 6–18 months).

Fees

Credit cards are notorious for a range of fees they can charge. Annual fee, late payment fee, foreign transaction fee, balance transfer, cash advance, over-the-limit fee—we can go on and on.

Aim for the lowest fees possible, especially when it comes to the annual fee. You can avoid the rest, if you’re financially responsible and pay off your balance in full every month. As for your annual fee, it’s practically set in stone (and in your credit card agreement).

Rewards

On the bright side, credit cards may offer perks to soften the blow of infinite fees. Among the common rewards are cash back, airline miles, and redeemable points. Sign-up bonuses are also included in this category, and can be worth your while. 

Credit cards for poor and limited credit are more stingy with their rewards, but there are a few hidden gems.

Credit Limit

Your credit limit is the maximum amount you can borrow from your credit card provider. It’ll be assigned to you during the application process based on your “creditworthiness”.

Bear in mind, your credit limit is directly linked to your credit utilization ratio, one of the key factors that affect your credit. It’s part of the amounts owed category, making up 30% of the total FICO score. 

To calculate it, divide your current balance (the sum of all balances, if you have several cards) by your total credit limit. If your balance is $100 and your credit limit—$1,000, your credit utilization ratio is 10% (good job!).

A hack to remember: 30 is your number! Keep your credit utilization ratio below 30% to keep a good score. 

Guaranteed credit card approval with no deposit is commonly associated with:

  • High APRs
  • High fees
  • Minimal rewards
  • Low credit limits 

I hope we’ve managed to prove that this doesn’t have to be the case!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a credit card with bad credit?

  1. Check your credit score and credit report.
  2. Compare those with the requirements of the credit card.
  3. Request pre-qualification on the issuer’s website.
  4. If you get pre-approved, submit your actual application.

What is the easiest credit card to get with bad credit?

The easiest credit cards to get are secured credit cards, student credit cards, and the so-called credit-builders (credit cards designed for people with poor or no credit).

If you’re asking about a specific card, Destiny Mastercard is one of the easiest cards to get on our list.

Do you have to make a deposit to get a credit card?

In most cases, you don’t need to make a deposit to get a credit card. That’s because most credit cards are unsecured. If you’re applying for a secured credit card, then you’ll need to deposit cash to get it.

Guaranteed approval credit cards with $10,000 limits for bad credit with no deposit: do they exist?

Generally, they don’t. Unsecured credit cards for poor credit have low credit limits. But there’s an exception to every rule. Petal 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa and Tomo Credit Card both have credit limits of up to $10,000. Whether you can get it or not will depend on your financial history and other factors.

 

Credit Cards

AUTHOR Jane Tumar

Storyteller by day, data enthusiast when I have free time, meticulous researcher—always. I’ve been working as a content writer for the past 3 years. With my degree in Computer Science and Literature, I am a breathing and walking juxtaposition. I love metaphors, SQL, and round brackets (duh!).

Related posts