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Great credit cards for people with no credit history [2022]

Getting a credit card can be difficult when you’ve recently moved to the U.S. and don’t have a local credit history. So we made a list of great credit cards that people can get with no credit history.

Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which Nova Credit receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). Nova Credit does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Louis DeNicola
Personal Finance Writer

Getting a credit card with no credit can be difficult when you’ve recently moved to the U.S. and don’t have a local credit history. Many credit card companies want to review applicants’ credit, and without a credit history, you might get turned down even if you’ve always paid your bills on time.

Fortunately, that’s not always the case, and there are great credit cards that people can get with no credit history. 

Nova Credit enables U.S newcomers with no credit to apply for a credit card

If you are a newcomer to the U.S., an international student or another noncitizen, American Express might have you covered: You can apply for all American Express personal credit cards online without an SSN if you have credit history in one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, India, Mexico, UK, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Kenya and Nigeria. Even if you are not from one of these countries, Amex still accepts ITINs as part of their applications.

American Express also reports to all 3 major credit bureaus (Equifax, Transunion, Experian), so even immigrants and newcomers to the U.S. can start building credit history after being approved for a card and using it responsibly. American Express offers several credit cards that don’t have an annual fee, which could be a good fit if you don’t expect to regularly use the card or you simply don’t like the idea of paying a fee to have a credit card. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express could be a good option if you often shop at supermarkets or department stores and commute by car. 

Important Note (applies for all American Express cards): 

On the American Express application page, you will have the option to click "I don't have credit history in the U.S." in the Social Security Number (SSN) field on the application page. This indicates that you're applying for a credit card with no prior credit history in the U.S. However, when clicking this, you may be able to qualify for the card using your credit history from Canada, UK, Australia, India, Mexico, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Kenya and Nigeria. No need to have existing U.S. credit, yay!

Featured credit cards if you can bring your international credit with you

  • Our featured cash back grocery card: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • Our featured luxury travel card: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Featured credit cards for people with no credit history whatsoever

  • Our featured student card: Deserve® Edu

Featured secured credit cards for no credit

  • Our featured option without a bank account: The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

  • Our featured low APR card: Green Dot primor® Visa® Classic Secured Credit Card

  • Our featured rewards card: Discover it® Secured

Another Important Note: You do NOT need a Social Security Number to start your US credit history

Experian and TransUnion will track and attempt to match your name, birth date, and address to your credit history. However, specified personal information like an SSN and ITIN make it easier for credit bureaus to report information accurately. Traditionally, you had to use stepping stones to build credit in the U.S. before you could qualify for an unsecured (i.e. “normal”) credit cards with no credit. You could do this by starting with a secured card, taking out a credit builder loan or becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. 

Now, you have a new option thanks to a partnership between American Express and Nova Credit. 

If you need a credit card and have no credit history in the U.S., but you established your credit in Canada, UK, Australia, India, Mexico, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Kenya or Nigeria, you can now apply for an American Express® Card using that credit history. You don’t even need a Social Security number (SSN). 

You can learn more about the application process in our guide. And here are some of the most popular Amex cards you can choose from:

Our featured cash back grocery card: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 annual fee. The card offers cash rewards on many common purchases. It could more than pay for itself if you’re looking for a credit card for everyday use while you build credit


What the card offers: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a cash back rewards card. Using it, you can earn:

  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.

  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

  • Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 intro plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 intro plan fees on plans created during the first 12 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a monthly plan fee up to 1.33% of each eligible purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.

  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 17.74%-28.74%.

  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).

  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.

  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).

  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.

  • Thinking about getting The Disney Bundle which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+? Your decision made easy with $7/month back in the form of a statement credit after you spend $13.99 or more each month on an eligible subscription with your Blue Cash Preferred Card. Enrollment required.

  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Terms Apply.

The 6% cash back is a great rate, particularly for families who spend a lot of money on groceries. There’s also often an intro bonus offer on the card, which could help you boost your cash back earnings early on. 

Potential cons to be aware of: You’ll want to calculate your potential cash back earnings to see if you’ll likely come out ahead after paying the fee.

Keep in mind that Amex decides what counts as a supermarket, which doesn’t include specialty wine shops, butchers, superstores like Target or warehouse clubs like Costco. Also, beware of the 2.7% foreign transaction fee. 

Our featured luxury travel card: The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the most well-known premium cards available. Unlike typical credit cards, this card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all. It offers big benefits, but with its high $695 annual fee, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons carefully before applying. 


What the card offers: The Platinum Card® from American Express is a great fit for frequent travelers who want more pleasant travel experiences. The card offers a lot of benefits and statement credits that can help justify the annual fee: 

  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®

  • Get a $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.

  • Get a $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.

  • Get a $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.

  • Get a $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.

  • Get a $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.

  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide.

Terms Apply.

The Platinum Card® from American Express consistently ranks as a top choice among premium cards. Plus, the card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee. 

Potential cons to beware of: You’re not getting all of these perks for free, and the $695 annual fee is one of the highest you’ll find. While the statement credits can help offset the fee, they’re sometimes difficult to use before they expire. 

You can find a more detailed overview on our American Express Platinum review: Who should and who shouldn't get the American Express Platinum Card?

Featured credit cards for those with no credit history whatsoever

A few card issuers use alternative methods to review credit card applications. For example, you may be able to let the issuer analyze your bank account transactions and make a decision based on that information. If you have no credit history and need a credit card, this may be one of the best routes to getting a credit card for no credit that has low fees and good benefits.

Our featured student card: Deserve® Edu

If you’re in the U.S. as a visiting student, you may be eligible for a student credit card. Deserve created the Deserve® Edu card with international students in mind, and it could be one of your top choices. 


What the card offers: The Deserve® Edu doesn’t require an SSN, which can be helpful if you’re studying in the U.S. and don’t have a job or taxable scholarship that makes you eligible for an SSN. 

In addition to the basic Deserve® benefits, you can earn 1% cash back on all your purchases and get 12 months of Amazon Prime Student for free. 

Potential cons to beware of: As with the Deserve® Classic, your account and payments don’t get reported to Equifax. You also can’t use the card to take out cash advances or transfer balances to the card from other credit cards. 

However, a cash advance with a credit card often comes with a fee and high interest charges, so it’s best to avoid these in general. And, if you’re looking for your first credit card with no credit in the U.S., you won’t need to make balance transfers anyway.   

Featured secured credit cards if you have no credit

With a secured card (versus the unsecured cards above), you’ll need to send the credit card issuer a refundable security deposit to open your account. The deposit will generally equal your card’s credit limit, and it decreases the issuer’s risk because the company can hold onto the money if cardholders don’t pay their bills. Sometimes, you can raise your line of credit after opening your card by making an additional deposit. 

Secured credit cards used to be one of the go-to options for those with no credit history or bad credit. While there are now more options available, a secured card could still be a good pick if you haven’t established credit that you can bring to the U.S., or if you don’t have a bank account. 

However, the cards are also created for people who’ve made credit mistakes and are rebuilding their credit, and they’re sometimes loaded with fees and unfavorable terms. They’re not all bad, though, and here are some secured cards that you may want to consider:

Our featured option without a bank account: The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card (Requires SSN)

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card stands out as one of the few secured cards that doesn’t require a bank account. Although you can send your security deposit with a debit card, you can also use a money transfer or mail a money order or check. Additionally, there’s no credit check, so having no credit won't affect the credit card application itself.  


What the card offers: When you use your card, your score will be reported your credit account activity to all three major credit bureaus, and the monthly reporting can help you establish and build credit. Beyond that, the card doesn’t offer any notable rewards or benefits. 

Potential cons to beware of: When you open the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, you’ll need to send a security deposit of $200 to $3,000, which will be your card’s credit limit. You can get the security deposit back if you, or the issuer, close your account while it’s in good standing (i.e., you don’t owe any money). 

The card also has a $35 annual fee. Overall, while you can use the card to build credit, it’s not particularly helpful for much else. 

Our featured low APR card: Green Dot Primor® Mastercard® Classic Secured Credit Card

Green Dot Bank is best known in the U.S. for offering prepaid cards. With prepaid cards, you load money into your account and can then use the card to spend it—similar to a checking account and debit card. 

But since prepaid cards typically don’t get reported to the credit bureaus, it doesn't make a good starter credit card for those with no credit history. However, Green Dot bank’s’s secured credit cards are real credit cards and Green Dot Bank reports your account to all three major credit bureaus. 


What the card offers: The Green Dot primor® Mastercard® Classic Secured Credit Card doesn’t have a minimum credit history or score requirement, although you’ll need a bank account to apply. 

Many secured cards have a high annual percentage rate (APR), which impacts how much interest accrues when you don’t pay your credit card bill in full. The Green Dot primor® Mastercard® Classic Secured Credit Card’s rate is relatively low compared to other secured cards, which could make it a good option if you might occasionally carry a balance. However, you should still try to plan ahead and pay your balance in full whenever possible. 

Potential cons to beware of: The Green Dot primor® Mastercard® Classic Secured Credit Card has a $39 annual fee and 3% foreign transaction fee. The security deposit starts at $200, although you can send up to $5,000 if you want a higher credit limit.

There’s also a $29 replacement card fee, which you’ll have to pay to get a new card if yours is lost or stolen. You’ll almost never see a fee like this on cards from major credit card companies, banks or credit unions. However, it’s somewhat common on cards that are targeted at subprime (i.e., no or bad credit) applicants. 

Our featured rewards card: Discover it® Secured

The Discover it® Secured card isn’t aimed at U.S. newcomers and it requires a SSN, credit check and U.S. bank account to apply. However, if you can get the card, it’s one of the better secured cards available. 

What the card offers: The Discover it® Secured is one of the few secured cards that doesn’t have an annual fee and offers rewards on purchases. There’s also no foreign transaction fee and Discover waives your first late payment fee. 

Using the card, you can earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each quarter, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, at the end of your first year, Discover doubles all the cash back you earned. 

With most secured cards, you’ll only get your security deposit back after the account is closed. However, Discover monitors your credit and account history while you’re building credit. After you’ve had the card for eight months, Discover does automatic reviews and may upgrade you to an unsecured card—you keep the same card and benefits but get your security deposit back. 

Potential cons to beware of: Although you may be eligible to get your security deposit back later, you’ll have to send a $200 to $2,500 security deposit when you first open your account. 

Discover cards also may not be as widely accepted as cards that are part of the American Express, Visa or Mastercard networks—especially outside the U.S. Merchants that accept UnionPay, JCB and Diners Club International cards will accept Discover as well. But if you plan on frequently traveling, consider whether shops in your destination countries will take your card. 

Did you know?

You can use your international credit history to apply for a U.S. credit card with no credit and without a Social Security Number

Credit history used to stop at the border—until now. Your existing international credit history could help you get credit in the United States. No SSN is required to start your credit history today.

Learn More

What to consider before choosing a credit card if you have no credit

As a newcomer to the U.S. without any credit history, you may have limited options when opening a credit card for no credit. The nine cards above may be good options, but choosing the right one will depend on the card details and how you plan on using your credit card. 

Here are a few features you should compare and consider as you look over the various credit card offers. 

The fees: Credit cards for people with no credit can have a variety of fees, including an annual fee that you have to pay to keep the account open. Additionally, look for usage-based fees, such as foreign transaction fees or cash advance fees.

A grace period: Most credit cards have a grace period that’s around 21 to 25 days long. During this period, which goes from the end of your purchase period to your bill’s due date, interest won’t accrue on your credit card balance that comes from purchases. It also won’t accrue during your statement period. However, balances from cash advances and balance transfers generally don’t have a grace period and start accruing interest right away. If you pay your bill in full by the due date, you keep your grace period and never pay interest on your purchases. However, if you don’t pay your bill in full, you lose your grade period and your purchases start to accrue interest right away. Additionally, some cards that are targeted at people with no or poor credit don’t have a grace period. 

The rewards: Many credit cards offer rewards as either cash back, points or miles in partner travel companies’ loyalty programs. The best rewards cards often require excellent credit and may have an annual fee, so they're not ideal credit cards for people with no credit. However, some of the cards above have good rewards programs that you can use to earn cash back.

Many rewards credit cards also have an intro offer. This sign-up bonus offer can give you big rewards after making a certain amount of purchases within an introductory period. The intro offers can change over time and from one card to another.

If you have large purchases coming up, you could also look for a card that has an intro APR offer. These offers let you make purchases with the card but pay no interest during the introductory period, which generally lasts 12 to 18 months. But have a plan for paying off the balance before the promotional interest rate ends. Otherwise, your balance and new purchases will accrue interest based on your credit card accounts’ regular APR. 

The cardholder benefits: Many credit cards offer benefits to cardholders simply for having and using the credit card, even with no credit history. These can range from elite status in hotel loyalty programs and access to airport lounges to protections when you use the card for certain purchases. Most credit cards also come with zero liability for unauthorized purchases. If someone steals your card or uses your account’s information, you won’t have to pay for any of the purchases.

How to use your new card to build credit in the U.S.

Getting a credit card can help you establish your credit profile in the U.S. Once you’ve got your new card, here are three things you can do to practice responsible card use and work your way to an excellent credit score.

  1. Regularly use your card.

    Try to use your credit card for a small purchase each month. People who are focused on building their credit, rather than earning rewards, sometimes use their card to automatically pay for an inexpensive subscription service. 

  2. Only use a small portion of your credit limit.

    Using a small portion of your available credit limit can help improve your credit scores. In contrast, maxing out your card (using the entire credit limit) may hurt your scores. A helpful rule of thumb is to only make purchases that add up to one third of your credit limit. For example, if your card has a $300 limit, try to keep the balance below $100.

  3. Pay your bill in full.

    Try to pay off your credit card bill in full each month. The payment might not directly impact your credit scores, but it’s still responsible use that can keep you from paying interest. 

As you learn more about credit and discover the different types of credit scores in the U.S. (such as FICO Score and VantageScore scores), you’ll discover there are many factors that can impact your credit profile. However, these three basic steps will set you on the path to responsible card use.

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer

More from Nova Credit:

Credit Cards for International Students

Credit Cards Without SSN

Credit Cards to Build Credit

How to Build Credit

How to use your international credit report to get credit in the U.S.