What Credit Score is Needed to Get a Credit Card?

What Credit Score is Needed to Get a Credit Card?
GUIDE

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Aaron Crowe
By: Aaron Crowe
Posted: May 17, 2019
Our popular “How-To” series is for those who seek to improve their subprime credit rating. Our articles follow strict editorial guidelines.

You usually need a credit score of some kind to be approved for a credit card. The higher the score, the better interest rate and rewards you’ll get. A lower credit score is seen as risky by lenders, meaning the cardholder may not pay his or her bill and could eventually default on the loan. And that’s essentially what a credit card is — a short-term loan paid back monthly.

But a credit score is only one factor used to determine what kind of credit card you’re likely to be approved for. Having a stable income and a history of on-time payments is also important.

Credit scores range from 300 to 850, with 300 considered a “very poor” score and 850 considered “excellent.” About 66% of Americans have a “good” or better FICO score. Wherever your credit score falls, there’s a credit card for you.

No Credit Score | Bad Credit 300 – 579 | Fair Credit 580 – 669 | Good Credit 670 +

Credit Cards for No Credit (0 Credit Score Needed)

If you’re a student or just starting your financial life, you may have no credit score, which is fine. Creditors know that you have to start somewhere when establishing a credit profile.

With a poor credit score or none at all, you may only qualify for a secured card. A secured card requires a security deposit that acts as your credit limit. Secured cards report your payments to the credit bureaus, which doesn’t happen with debit and prepaid cards. Using a secured card responsibly for a year or so may allow you to upgrade to an unsecured account and get your deposit back.

  • Credit lines available from $200 to $5,000. Super Low Fixed 9.99% interest rate on purchases - with no penalty rate.
  • No minimum credit score requirements. We invite all credit types to apply. No processing or application fees.
  • Helps strengthen your credit with responsible card use. Reports to three national bureaus.
  • Fast, easy application process. Choose your credit line and open your Personal Savings Deposit Account to secure your line.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details
★★★★

4.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 9.99% Yes 9.0/10

The Green Dot Primor® secured card has a low fixed 9.99% interest rate on purchases, making it one of the lowest interest rates on secured cards available. Filling out an application takes minutes and doesn’t require paying processing or application fees.

  • Receive your card more quickly with new expedited processing option
  • No credit history or minimum credit score required for approval
  • Quick and complete online application
  • Full-feature Platinum Mastercard® secured credit card
  • Good for car rental, hotels; Anywhere credit cards are accepted!
  • Monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus to establish credit history
  • Click for for official site, terms, and details.
★★★

3.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 10.74% (V) Yes 7.5/10

The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® has a low variable interest rate and, like most other secured cards, it reports monthly to the three major credit bureaus to help customers establish a credit history. This card is not available to residents in New York, Iowa, Arizona, or Wisconsin.

  • Receive your card more quickly with new expedited processing option
  • No credit history or minimum credit score required for approval
  • Quick and complete online application
  • Full-feature Platinum Mastercard® secured credit card
  • Nationwide program though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★

3.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 20.74% (V) Yes 7.5/10

The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® has a secured credit line requiring a deposit ranging from $200 to $2,000 that’s submitted with the application. It can be used at car rental agencies, hotels, and anywhere else Mastercard is accepted. This is a benefit of having a secured card — you can reserve cars and hotels that can be difficult to do without a credit card.

Credit Cards for Bad Credit (300-579 Credit Score Needed)

If you have bad credit from missed payments, a foreclosure, or collections, you should still be able to get an unsecured credit card without having to come up with a security deposit. Having bad credit may mean you’re not approved for credit at all. However, there are some credit cards you can get with a credit score below 580.

  • Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
  • Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands like Samsung, KitchenAid, and DeWalt
  • Not an access card
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
5 Minutes See issuer website Yes 9.0/10

The Fingerhut Credit Account is not a credit card that can be used at any retailer. A Fingerhut credit line can only be used to buy from Fingerhut or its authorized partners, but it reports to the credit bureaus and has easy approval criteria, making it a solid credit-builder card for someone with poor credit.

  • Checking account required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • A genuine Visa card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
  • Manageable monthly payments
  • If approved, simply pay a program fee to open your account and access your available credit
  • Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 Minutes See terms Yes 8.5/10

The Total Visa® Card has a low initial credit limit of $300 and requires paying a fee to open an account. Visa is accepted by merchants almost everywhere, so finding a retailer that will accept the card should be easy.

  • Get the security and convenience of a full-feature, unsecured Visa® Credit Card – accepted at millions of merchant and ATM locations nationwide and online
  • Reporting monthly to all three major credit reporting agencies
  • Perfect credit not required for approval; we may approve you when others won’t
  • Easy and secure online application
  • If approved, pay a Program Fee and you can access the $300 credit limit (subject to available credit)
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes See Terms Yes 8.0/10

The First Access Solid Black Visa Credit Card also has a $300 credit limit and requires paying a program fee to open an account. As with other cards for people with bad credit, it reports monthly to all three major credit reporting agencies to help cardholders improve their credit scores.

  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • Initial Credit Limit of $500.00!* (subject to available credit)
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Free online account access 24/7
  • Checking Account Required
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 Minutes See website for Details* Yes 8.5/10

The Surge Mastercard® has an initial credit limit of $500 and can help you establish and improve your credit. All applications are reviewed for an unsecured card but may be approved for a card with a $50, $100, $150 or $500 refundable security deposit based on creditworthiness.

  • Prequalify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • 24/7 access to your account information, even on mobile
  • Card designs to fit your personality at no extra charge
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.2

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 24.9% Yes 9.0/10

Depending on your credit profile, you may pay an annual fee for the Milestone® Mastercard®. An account opening fee may also be required, but the card reports to all three credit bureaus, and will help you improve your credit with responsible use over time.

This Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® also determines your annual fee based on your credit profile. It’s an unsecured credit card that doesn’t require a security deposit and — with on-time payments — will help you build your credit score.

Credit Cards for Fair Credit (580-669 Credit Score Needed)

Just over 20% of Americans have a fair credit score of 580-669. They’re considered subprime borrowers who may be approved for credit but likely not at competitive rates. Cards for such borrowers are available and will generally offer better rates and terms than for borrowers with poor credit. Here are some credit cards that such consumers are likely to be approved for:

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

This Capital One® Platinum Credit Card has a high variable APR, but it doesn’t charge an annual fee. A higher credit line can be accessed after making the first five monthly payments on time.

Capital One® Platinum

  • Variable APR
  • Mobile banking access to manage your account
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • No annual fee

Capital One is also one of the top banks in the world, so you can count on your Platinum card offering all of the perks that come with being a Capital One customer.

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa

Qualified applicants can get the Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa Card and earn 1% cash back rewards on all purchases. The card offers fraud liability, meaning you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges.

CreditOne® Platinum Visa

  • 1% cash back rewards on all purchases
  • Choose your payment due date
  • Free access to your Experian credit score
  • $0 – $99 annual fee, based on creditworthiness

You can also see if you pre-qualify for the card before applying. It takes less than a minute to do and won’t affect your credit score.

Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card with Cash Back Rewards

The Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card with Cash Back Rewards also offers 1% cash back rewards on purchases. The account can be managed from your mobile phone through the Credit One Bank mobile app, and purchases can be made securely through Apple Pay.

Credit One Bank®Unsecured Visa®

  • 1% cash back rewards on all purchases
  • Zero fraud liability
  • Free access to your Experian credit score
  • $0 – $99 annual fee, based on creditworthiness

Just like the Credit One Platinum card above, you can see if you pre-qualify before applying. Remember, though, that pre-qualification does not guarantee approval.

Credit Cards for Good Credit (670+ Credit Score Needed)

People with good credit scores ranging from 670 to 739, along with very good (740 – 799) and exceptional (800 – 850), are considered much less likely to become seriously delinquent in the future. That’s why they’re frequently offered the best rates and terms from lenders.

FICO Score Factors

Assuming other criteria are met, applicants with good credit are likely to qualify for most credit card offers.

The other factors considered include income, debt levels, and recent payment history. Paying bills on time is the best thing to do to raise a credit score, and using less than 30% of the credit available to you — called a credit utilization rate — is another big factor.

Credit cards for people with good credit will often have benefits that cards for those with poor credit don’t get.

These can include cash back offers, rewards that don’t expire, low interest rates, no annual fee, cash or airline mile bonuses when reaching set spending amounts, credit toward TSA Precheck or Global Entry fees, and no foreign transaction fees, among other benefits.

If you’re not in the “good” credit range yet, don’t fret. Responsible use of any of the cards mentioned above will help you on your way to an improved credit score.

What is the Easiest Credit Card to be Approved For?

The credit score you’ll need to be approved for a credit card depends on many factors beyond a credit score, most notably, having a steady income and not missing payments.

The “easiest” credit card to be approved for is one that doesn’t require a credit score and even allows for a bad credit score — a secured credit card. These cards require a deposit that becomes your spending limit. The deposit is refunded if you cancel the card or if you make enough on-time payments to move up to a better credit card. Look for a secured card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.

If you want to improve your credit score, a secured card can help you do that if you make your payments on time and use the card responsibly. Most secured card providers will report monthly to the three major credit bureaus, which can help establish a good credit history. In a year or so, that can allow you to be approved for a nonsecured card that has better benefits.

Another type of credit card that’s easy to be approved for is one that you pay for — such as through program fees, annual fees, and maybe application fees — but you don’t have to pay a security deposit on it. These credit cards are offered to consumers with bad credit. Expect to have a low credit limit and a high interest rate.

Approval is usually easy because you’re paying fees and high interest with the card. That’s why these cards are not meant for long-term use, but rather to be used as a credit-building tool that you eventually move on from.

How do You Know if You Will Get Approved for a Credit Card?

Many of the credit cards we’ve listed require an online application that only a few minutes to fill out, and you’ll learn within seconds if you’re approved. Others may take a week or so for approval if the card issuers needs to look more closely at your credit report, though you can call its customer service line for a quicker decision.

So what goes into approval for a credit card?

If you’re applying for a secured credit card, you may only need to have a steady income, a place of residence, and a debit, credit, or prepaid account from which the security deposit can be withdrawn.

Stock Photo of a Credit Card Application Approval

More factors than just your credit score determine approval, such as having a steady income and a bank account.

Having bad credit or no credit history shouldn’t prevent you from being approved for a secured credit card.

If you have bad credit and are applying for a credit card that caters to such consumers, then you should expect to be approved, though there are never guarantees. These card providers realize that applicants won’t have perfect or even fair credit, and they want to make it as easy and fast as possible to apply and be approved for their credit cards.

The benefit for the credit company is that it charges high interest rates, offers low credit limits, and will likely charge borrowers a fee to open an account. The benefit to the customer with bad credit is that they will have access to a credit line they can pay in full and on time each month as a way to improve their credit score over time.

Can You Use the Credit Card the Same Day You’re Approved?

Applying for a credit card online can result in same-day approval, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to use the card the same day you’re approved. Few cards offer same-day card numbers for instant use, though you may be able to get expedited shipping so you can use your new credit card in a day or so.

There are some issuers, however, that allow same-day card use after applying online and being approved. While you won’t get a physical card on the same day you’re approved, some allow same-day purchases by providing new customers with their card number and expiration date. Some card companies will give you a four-digit code and expiration date that are temporary and won’t match the ones on the card you’ll get later in the mail.

Capital One allows such access through its mobile app. This can come in handy if a big expense pops up and you need a credit card immediately.

Stock photo of a CVV number on a mobile device and credit card

The CVV number is the three-digit number (four digits for Amex cards) on the back of the card.

Online businesses may be more likely to accept payment with the card number, expiration date, and CVV number only, while brick-and-mortar stores will likely require a physical card they can charge to. A card number could be added to a mobile wallet on your phone, which would allow you to use it at stores.

A good way to get a physical credit card in your hands quickly is to get approved for it quickly. Help yourself get fast approval by applying online for cards that you’re likely to qualify for.

In other words, don’t play out of your league. Know what your credit score is and apply for cards aimed at your credit score. If your score is at the lower end of the “good” spectrum, don’t apply for cards that require excellent credit.

If you don’t get instant approval online for a credit card, you may be approved later after the issuer looks into your credit history more. Once approved, it’s unlikely you’ll get the credit card number from an agent over the phone for instant access.

What Happens if You Don’t Get Approved for a Credit Card?

Didn’t get approved? As the proverb popularized by William Edward Hickson says, “Try, try, try again.”

That’s the one good thing about credit cards — even if you have bad or no credit, you can always apply for another one because there are lots of credit card companies looking for business.

Just know that applying for new credit can hurt your credit score a little. Each application is considered a hard inquiry on your credit report, meaning a potential creditor has looked at your credit report. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the minimal effect to your credit score is not so bad if you’re approved for credit. But too many credit applications in a short period can be seen as a red flag by lenders, as you may come off as desperate for money. You could appear as a high credit risk.

Multiple inquiries won’t be held against you if you’re shopping for a mortgage, auto loan or student loan — if they’re done in the same two-week period. But shopping for a credit card this way isn’t considered a good thing.

When applying for credit cards, improve your chances by applying for cards you’re likely to be approved for. Check your credit score and do what you can to improve it before trying to get a credit card.

How Long Should I Wait to Apply for Another Card if Denied?

Patience is a virtue, but it can be difficult to practice if you’re denied a credit card. You may have bills to pay or want to get a credit card so you can start using it responsibly and build your credit score.

Whatever the need, applying for a credit card immediately after being denied may not be a good idea. A former CPA told Credit Karma that, if you have been rejected because of too many hard inquiries, you should wait at least four to six months, and possibly longer, to reapply. If you don’t have great credit, you may want to wait longer than someone who does.

Stock Photo of a Calendar

Experts recommend waiting four to six months between credit applications.

If you’re rejected because your credit scores are too low, then you may need at least a few months to improve your score. It may take six months or longer to pay off a debt, and a year of timely payments on all of your bills should help raise your score.

The credit card company that denied your application is required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act to notify you in writing why it denied your application.

If the company used a credit report to reach its decision, the adverse action notice will detail which credit bureau provided the credit report and score the issuer used to base its decision. Use that information and check your credit report for any errors and fix them.

Once you have your financial ducks in a row, then apply for the credit card that fits your credit score to increase your chances of approval.

There’s a Credit Card for Every Credit Score

A credit score is something to work to improve every month. It can be done by simply paying your bills on time or taking more difficult steps, like cutting expenses or taking on extra work so you can pay off debts. Even if the improvement is slow, at least you’ll be making progress.

The more immediate good news when trying to get a credit card is that there’s a card for every credit score.

Having bad or no credit can make it difficult to get a credit card, but not impossible. You may have to start with a secured credit card that requires a deposit or you may have to pay added fees for an unsecured card.

If you have fair credit, it will be a little easier to get a credit card, though you’ll likely have a high interest rate. These cards usually won’t require security deposits or annual fees and can offer a small taste of rewards that you’ll likely get more of when you improve your credit score.

If your credit card applications are denied again and again, take a break from applying and take it as a sign to start working to improve your credit.