Q: If you don’t have the best credit history or haven’t had a card before, which credit cards are you most likely to be approved for in 2014?
A: That’s an excellent question and below is the answer.
Ever since The Great Recession, getting approved for credit cards hasn’t been quite the easy cake walk it used to be. In the good old days prior to the Wall Street meltdown and housing crisis almost anyone could and did easily get a credit card. Banks and card issuers promised low rates even to those without credit history or those with bad credit. It’s not that they were altruistic – there was a method to their madness. They would hit you with all kind of fees – either up front in the form of application or annual fees or on the back end for even the tiniest infraction like being a day late with your payment, in order to make such risky accounts more profitable. These days, credit card companies have stricter approval requirements, making approval more challenging for those with bad credit or a limited credit history. This is largely a result of the Credit CARD Act of 2009, which rolled back most of the card industry’s controversial pricing and penalty practices. Credit terms are now much friendlier but the down side is that getting approved can be more challenging.
Let’s take a look at some of the easiest credit cards to get approved for, divided by category…
For no credit history (or little credit history)
Here is the one I’m seeing a lot of people have luck with lately:Lucky for you, banks view those with a blank slate (little to no credit history) more favorably than someone that has screwed up their credit. In other words, banks are usually more willing to give newcomers a chance.
However it’s highly unlikely you will be approved for the mid- to high-level cards right away. Instead you will have to start off with some of the entry-level cards. After a year or so of good management, you should be able to apply for something even better.
If you are a college student, I would recommend applying for cards designed for college students. These are specifically geared towards younger people with little to no history, so they are some of the easiest credit cards to get approved for – the only caveat is that you must prove that you are a student of an accredited college or university to qualify. We have a sponsored section for with the best student credit cards you should check out. Here is my favorite one right now:
If you are not a college student , you won’t be able to get a student credit card, as mentioned above – they generally require you to document your enrollment status at a college or university. Fortunately, there are still cards out there for those with limited credit history, whether you are 20 or 80. The easiest ones to get will be those geared toward people with fair credit (which is what most people newer to credit usually have). Check out our ranking of cards for people with fair credit.
For bad credit
Don’t worry, if you have bad credit, all hope is NOT lost! There are still plenty of options on the market for people just like you!
As expected, you won’t qualify for most of the cards out there. The easiest ones to get approved for will be secured cards. However you need to watch out, because a lot of secured credit cards charge outrageous fees. Just because you have bad credit, it doesn’t mean you should be ripped off! Here are some things to keep an eye on when it comes to secured cards:
- Application fees – Some secured cards charge application fees. Generally this is something we frown upon
- Processing fees – You may be charged a “processing fee” simply for processing your application. Ideally, it’s probably best to choose a card that doesn’t charge this fee.
- Annual or monthly fees – You can expect to pay an annual fee for most secured cards, but some cards’ fees are more unreasonable than others.
- Easy account management – Online account management, text message notifications, etc. should be included free of charge.
- Reports to major credit bureaus – Card issuers actually have to pay in order to report their cardholders to the credit bureaus. For this reason, some sketchy companies won’t report. Make sure the secured card you choose reports to the major credit bureaus, otherwise it won’t help your credit.
Due to the fact that secured cards require a refundable security deposit (you choose the amount), you’re likely to get approved as long as you meet the simple residency requirements (U.S. citizen), are at least 18 years of age and can verify your identity if needed. There is usually no credit history or credit score requirement, so secured cards are definitely the easiest to get, even if you have really bad credit. Check out this page where we ranked secured offers:
Updated July 23, 2014