Sure, there are ways to build credit without a credit card. But credit cards provide the most direct route to better credit because they:
- Don’t Have to Cost You a Thing: There are plenty of no annual fee credit cards for people with no credit or bad credit. And credit building doesn’t require making purchases. Even a credit card with zero balance will help you. That’s key because loans will generally force you into debt.
- Report Monthly to Credit Bureaus: All major credit cards report information to the three major credit bureaus on a monthly basis, usually at the end of your billing cycle. This gives you the opportunity to quickly establish credit history from scratch or reduce the impact of previous mistakes. You just have to pay your bill on time.
- Are Pretty Easy to Get: The easiest credit cards to get, which are generally secured cards, offer nearly guaranteed approval. You just need to be at least 18 years old with enough income or assets to make monthly minimum payments. In other words, there isn’t much standing in the way of you building credit.
|Credit Card||Best For||Annual Fee|
|Discover it® Secured||Bad Credit (Rewards)||$0|
|Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||Rewards With No Deposit||$39|
|OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card||No Credit Check||$35|
|Capital One Platinum Credit Card||No Annual Fee||$0|
|Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card||Bad Credit (Unsecured)||$0 - $99|
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students||Students||$0|
Methodology for Selecting the Best Credit Cards to Build Credit
To identify the best credit cards with which to build credit, WalletHub’s editors regularly compare 1,500+ credit card offers based on their approval requirements, fees, rewards and interest rates. We also take some key secondary factors into account, such as whether a security deposit is required or an applicant must be a student to qualify.
We start by identifying the cards with the lowest annual fees, preferably $0 per year, as it is best to keep costs low while building credit. We then identify the cards with the best rewards, using low APRs as a tiebreaker, because people working to build credit should strive to pay their credit card bill in full every month.
Given that many different types of people may find themselves looking to build credit, there are several types of credit cards to build credit with. In addition to “normal” credit card offers for people with limited or bad credit, there are secured credit cards, which require a refundable security deposit, and credit cards for college students. We try to include a mix of offers in this list, accordingly.