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Top 10 Credit Building Credit Cards

Updated on Feb 26, 2021
Cards for Credit Score

There is a saying, "to get credit, you need to have credit" which can be a Catch-22 situation when you are new to the credit world. As you may know, the majority of credit cards require you to have some sort of credit history to get approved, with only a few exceptions where no credit is needed.

It can be quite difficult to qualify for a credit card when you have never used a credit or if you have bad credit. Fortunately, there are options.

Regardless of your current credit situation, opening a credit card is an excellent way to build or rebuild your credit, provided you use it responsibly.

We have compiled a list of credit cards that are best for building credit even with no credit history or bad credit.

Before we move on to the list, here's how credit cards can help you build credit and more.

How Credit Cards Help You Build Credit?

Credit cards help you build credit or improve your credit scores by keeping a record of how you manage credit on a regular basis. 

The credit card issuers provide details of your account and activities which include your payment history, balances, and more to the national credit bureaus-Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. The bureaus take such information to create your credit reports, which are essentially the basis of your credit scores.

A credit card works best if you are committed to paying your balance in full and on-time to your creditors and spending below your credit limit. This way, you boost your credit score over time.

What is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a 3-digit number that determines your creditworthiness. The score can significantly impact your financial life. It can help you achieve important milestones such as renting an apartment, getting a mortgage for your first home, buying a car, or even making you more employable.

The FICO score is the most common type and scores range from 300 to 850, with 300 being the poorest score and 850 being the highest. The higher the credit score you have, the better.

An excellent credit score opens up many opportunities like access to the best rewards cards that offer valuable cash back, travel perks, luxury benefits, trip insurance, protection, etc. The best credit cards in the market require you to have good or excellent credit scores. Maintaining a good score maximizes the odds of getting approved for the best ones. No wonder, life gets better with a good credit score.

The obvious truth is that people with a bad credit score are considered risky borrowers who may not be able to pay back the loan reliably. Having bad credit makes it difficult to qualify for loans, have limited access to favorable loan terms and better credit card options.

How to Start Credit Building with Credit Cards?

Secured credit cards are one of the best ways to start credit building when you have a poor or no credit history. They are similar to traditional unsecured credit cards (have interest rates, credit limit, and may offer rewards). However, with secured credit cards, you are required to make a security deposit as collateral unless you fail to repay the loan.

The deposit lowers the risk, hence it is easier to qualify for secured credit cards. The application process for credit cards for bad credit can be more flexible than regular credit cards.

The deposit is refundable as long as you pay the full balance and close your account. The amount deposited is usually your credit limit. Higher the amount, the higher your credit limit.

Even if you don't have a fund to put down as a deposit, there are credit options that you can go for.

Do remember that most of these cards are just basic cards. You don't have to use such cards forever. You can use it to build or improve your credit score and once you have a good score, you can upgrade to a better one with rich rewards and many perks.

The process is fairly simple. All you have to do is to find a card that is suitable for your current needs, spend within the limit and pay the balance on time.

Here are the top credit cards for credit building or rebuilding:

Discover it Secured Credit Card: Best Credit Card for Bad Credit Plus Rewards


Perks and Benefits:

  • Welcome Bonus: Dollar-for-dollar match of the cashback earned at the end of the first year
  • Earn 2% cashback at gas stations and restaurants after spending up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Earn unlimited 1% cashback on all other purchases
  • Automatically reviews after 8 months of opening the card to upgrade to an unsecured card
  • Start building your credit line with a refundable minimum security deposit of $200 Your deposit becomes your credit limit. The initial deposit to be paid with a bank account
  • Build credit history with the three major credit bureaus
  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fee
  • Discover cards are accepted widely in the U.S.
  • Get a free FICO credit score 

Rates and Fees

  • Intro APR: 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months 
  • Regular APR: 22.99% Variable 
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee for future transfers

Petal 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa Credit Card: Starter Card with No Security Deposit


Perks and Benefits

  • No credit history required
  • No security deposit needed
  • No annual fee, no late payment fee, no foreign transaction fee
  • Earn 1% cashback on eligible purchases immediately
  • Earn up to 1.5% cashback after 1 year of monthly on-time payments
  • Earn 2%-10% cashback from select merchants 
  • The credit limit range from $500-$10,000
  • The card is issued by WebBank, Member FDIC
  • Petal's cash flow technology help applicants get approved by analyzing bank statements, payments, earnings without the need to look at credit history
  • Build credit alongside Petal Cardmembers

Rates and Fees

  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 12.99%-26.99% Variable 
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card: Best Credit Card for New Immigrants


Perks and Benefits

  • No credit check necessary (though you need to meet the income standards)
  • No need for a bank account. You can transfer your security deposit or pay your bill by debit card, money order/check/ Western Union payment 
  • The minimum deposit starts at $200 and your deposit becomes your credit limit
  • Build your credit history with all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Earn your credit score in as little as 6 months 
  • Stay connected with other OpenSky Cardholders via their community page on Facebook

Rates and Fees

Deserve Edu Mastercard: Best Credit Card for International Students


Perks and Benefits

  • Current Offer: One-year subscription to Amazon Prime Student after spending $500 in the first 3 billing cycles (Lifetime Value: $59)
  • International students need not provide a Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Earn 1% cashback on all purchases
  • No credit history required 
  • No security deposit
  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Enjoy cell phone protection up to $600
  • Zero liability guarantee
  • Refer a friend to Deserve using your referral code and get $30 upon approval, activation, and use
  • Cards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC
  • Check if you are pre-qualify without any impact on your credit score

Rates and Fees

  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 18.74% Variable 
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0

Capital One Secured Mastercard: Best Credit Card for Low-Deposit

Capitol One

Perks and Benefits

  • Refundable minimum deposits start as low as $49 and then $99 or $200 (based on your creditworthiness)
  • No credit history required
  • Regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You can get a credit limit of $200 for all the 3 minimum security deposits mentioned above. Increase your credit limit by depositing large amounts
  • Get access to a higher credit line with on-time payments for the first 5 months with no additional deposits
  • Pay on time and earn back your deposit as a statement credit
  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fee
  • Mastercard is accepted worldwide 
  • Flexibility to change the payment due date

Rates and Fees

  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 26.99% Variable on purchases and balance transfers 
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0

First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard Secured Credit Card: Best Credit Card for lowest interest rate

First Progress

Perks and Benefits

  • The card offers a lower interest rate for people with bad credit. The interest rate is high for people with bad credit (25% or more)
  • No hard credit inquiry which is good for people with no credit history or low credit score 
  • Get your card quickly with a new expedited processing option 
  • Monthly reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Refundable deposit range from $200-$2,000
  • Quick and Easy Online Application 
  • Use it for car rental or hotels 
  • Manage your account online anytime 

Note: The program is presently not available in Arkansas, Iowa, New York, or Wisconsin. Do check Card terms and conditions.

Rates and Fees

  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 9.99% Variable 
  • Annual Fee: $49
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%

The Secured Visa from Merrick Bank: Best Credit Card for Bad or No Credit


Perks and Benefits

  • Get your own credit line depending on your initial deposits which range from $200 to $3,000
  • Automatic review of account to increase credit line after 9 months with no additional deposit 
  • The card is issued by Merrick Bank, Member FDIC
  • Security deposits are FDIC insured
  • Build credit regardless of your credit background 
  • Account information reported to all 3 credit bureaus 
  • Get a free FICO credit score and 100% U.S. based customer service 
  • 0$ fraud liability 
  • Access your account online for free around the clock 

Rates and Fees

  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 17.45% Variable 
  • Annual Fee: $36 for the first year. Then billed $3 per month 
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2% (per transaction in U.S. dollars)
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A

Deserve Digital First Card: Best Credit Card for Zero or Limited Credit History Plus Cashback

Deserve Digital

Perks and Benefits

  • No credit history needed
  • No security deposit 
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Once approved, add instantly to Apple Pay
  • Earn 1% cashback on purchases up to $500
  • Earn 1.25% cashback after spending $500 in each billing cycle
  • Earn 1.50% cashback after spending $1,000 in a billing cycle
  • Redeem cashback as a statement credit to offset your bill
  • Enjoy Mastercard World benefits

Rates and Fees

  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 14.99% to 24.99% Variable 
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A

LOQBOX - America's Free Credit Builder: Best Credit Card for Free Credit Builder


Perks and Benefits:

  • Build your credit history while you save
  • No credit history or credit history needed
  • Credit builder loans from $250-$2,400. 0% APR loan and $0 charges 
  • No security deposit 
  • No annual fee, no transaction fees, or late fees
  • Monthly reporting of loan repayments to major credit bureaus
  • Improve your credit score with on-time payments
  • Get financial know-how and tips with LOQBOX Learn
  • Unlock your savings from your LOQBOX into new savings account for free after 1 year of monthly payments 

 Rates and Fees

  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 0%
  • Annual Fee: $0 
  • Balance Transfer: N/A

Destiny Mastercard Credit Card: Best Credit Card for Rebuilding Bad Credit History


Perks and Benefits

  • A chance to build your credit regardless of credit background (even a prior bankruptcy) 
  • Students can also apply
  • No security deposit required 
  • The credit limit of a Destiny card is $300
  • Apply for the pre-qualification check with no impact on your credit score
  • Monthly reporting to all 3 credit bureaus
  • Fraud protection from unauthorized charges 
  • You can select card design for free

Rates and Fees

  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 24.90% Variable 
  • Annual Fee: $59-$99 
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 1% (per transaction in U.S. dollars)
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A

Bottom Line

Once you have good credit management habits, the payoff is immense. You get lower APRs, better reward programs, cashback, protection, and more. You don't get such benefits when you use a debit card or cash. Credit cards add value to your purchases. 

The bottom line is building credit doesn't happen overnight. Building a good credit score is not always an easy process but it is possible.  You need to develop responsible credit behavior such as paying the bills on time, keeping low balances, and not overspending. Use it responsibly and enjoy the benefits and convenience of using credit cards. 

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