No Credit Check Credit Cards - Avoid Hits on Your Credit Report

When I was preparing to buy out the lease of my Toyota Camry, I knew that I wanted to get competitive interest rates from each lender to minimize the impact of monthly auto loan payments on my budget. I knew that part of getting a reasonable interest rate came down to my creditworthiness, and so I wanted to find ways to boost my credit score while paying down other debts.
When I pulled my credit report and looked at what Equifax, Experian, and Transunion had to say, I felt like my score was pretty good, but I knew I could make it better. One strategy I used to improve my credit score was opening a new credit line to increase my available credit and improve my debt-to-income ratio.
Of course, I knew that for my plan to work, I would need to ensure that I didn’t get a hard pull from the major credit bureaus when opening the line of credit. A hard inquiry can stay on your credit report for up to two years, which would ultimately hurt my chances of getting the best possible auto loan. I turned to credit card offers that didn’t need a hard pull of my credit history to avoid this problem. A soft credit check wouldn’t pose the same threat to my car loan application process, allowing me to circumnavigate any potential issues. This also makes credit card companies that use soft inquiries an ideal fit for anyone with no credit history or working to build credit.
You might be surprised to know that you can open a credit card with just a soft credit pull. In fact, not only can you open a credit card, but there are even cards out there that won’t make you sacrifice perks like balance transfers, cashback, or no annual fee. Keep reading for an overview of the best credit cards that do not do a hard credit check.

How is a soft pull different than a hard pull?

When it comes to building credit or repairing bad credit, there are various factors to keep track of. One key factor in your credit score is how much available credit you have compared to your credit limits. Payment history is also a key component of calculating your credit score and FICO Score. One other factor playing a significant role is how many credit inquiries you have on your credit report.
How does a credit inquiry get on your report in the first place? In most situations, when you apply for a loan or credit line, lenders or credit card companies perform a credit check to pull your current score and determine your creditworthiness. They use this to calculate other terms of your credit card, such as variable APR or credit limit. Those inquiries take two forms: a hard pull or a soft pull.

Hard pulls

A hard pull of your credit report will show lenders detailed information about your credit usage and any loans you have taken out in your name. Hard credit checks are commonly involved with rental applications, credit card applications, auto loans, and mortgages. A hard pull may result in your credit score dropping by as many as 10 points and will stay on your credit report for up to two years.

Soft pulls

A soft pull of your credit report may happen if you’ve been preapproved for a specific credit card or are going through the pre-qualification process for a loan. Soft credit checks may also occur if you use a credit monitoring service or are getting an updated insurance quote. Unlike hard pulls, soft credit checks do not impact your credit score in any negative way.

Why would you want a credit card that didn’t involve a hard check?

If you have limited credit or are working on building credit, applying for a credit card when you know your low score can be counterproductive if the hard pull results in your credit score dropping. Some people may even have no credit score to speak of — such as my friend who ran into trouble getting his apartment application approved — which can pose other credit-related problems when looking to open a credit card. While most hard credit inquiries only affect your credit score for a year, if, like me, you know you’ll be buying out your lease in six months, you can’t afford to take that hit if you want the best rate possible.

Understanding secured credit cards

If you’re going to open a credit card without a hard check, you’ll be opening something known as a secured credit line. Secured credit cards require a security deposit to be made as a form of collateral. Your refundable security deposit will likely equal your available credit limit and serves as an insurance policy of sorts for the bank not performing a full hard pull of your report.
Most secured credit cards require that cardholders put down a minimum deposit to open the new credit line. As such, this can impact what options make the most sense for you. If your money is tight, a secured credit card with a higher minimum deposit might be out of reach for you. It’s a good idea to weigh the features you need against your budget to ensure that you don’t wind up overpaying in your deposit to get features you don’t need. While having no annual or foreign transaction fees are great perks, you shouldn’t overextend yourself to get them.

Credit cards without a hard check

When it comes to opening a credit card without a hard check, it’s important to note that all of your options are limited to secured credit cards. Here’s what you should know about some of the most popular secured credit cards out there.

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

With no annual fee and a $49 minimum security deposit, if you need to rebuild your credit from scratch and don’t have much extra money to dedicate to the cause, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is an excellent option. Although it has a relatively high regular APR of 26.99%, the card does come with an impressive array of perks despite being a secured card.
Some of the perks cardholders will enjoy with the Capital One Platinum Secured Card include no foreign transaction fees, as well as extended warranties on purchases made with the card. While you don’t get an intro APR deals or sign-up promotions, you do get automatic credit line reviews every six months, as well as the flexibility to set your due date. These perks make the Capital One Platinum Secured Card worth considering if your money is tight and you need to begin rebuilding your credit.

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card

Although it has an annual fee of $35, the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card comes with the perks you’d expect from a Visa card that make it well worth considering if you need a card with no hard credit check. Your credit limit will be equal to the amount you deposit — ranging from a minimum deposit of $200 to a maximum of $3,000 — and you can always increase your credit limit by increasing your deposit up to $3,000 whenever you need to.
Some of the perks you get as a Visa cardholder with the OpenSky Secured credit card includes $0 fraud liability, as well as roadside assistance in emergencies. The variable APR for this credit card starts at 17.39%, and there is also a 3% foreign transaction fee when using this card.

Discover it Secured Credit Card

One of the only secured credit cards offering intro APR, the Discover it Secured Credit Card is in some ways a stripped-down version of other Discover it cards. For example, you’ll get 10.99% introductory APR on balance transfers for six months when you open this card, as well as a dollar-for-dollar match for all cash back earned in the first year of card usage. Combined with no annual fee, these perks make the Discover it® Secured Credit Card an excellent option for folks who want access to a credit card with perks and no hard pull.
Although there are many reasons to be excited about the Discover it Secured Credit Card, it does have a relatively high regular APR of 22.99%. It’s also worth noting that Discover isn’t as widely accepted as other credit card providers such as Visa or MasterCard. While that rarely is an issue, the one or two times it might come up could be disappointing if you were hoping to earn 2% cashback on your purchase.

Citi Secured Mastercard

Another solid option for secured credit cards with $0 annual fees is the Citi Secured Mastercard. The Citi Secured Mastercard doesn’t require any credit history to be approved, but your financial history can ultimately help give you a higher maximum security deposit and credit limit. The regular APR for the card is 22.49%, which is pretty comparable to most other secured credit cards on the market.
There aren’t a lot of perks associated with this card (which is par for the course with most secured credit cards), but you do get access to the Citi Entertainment program with your Citi Secured Mastercard. From presale tickets to concerts to exclusive deals on dining and travel, this perk is worth getting the card for if you already have a vacation planned and are looking to take advantage of the Citi Entertainment program.

BankAmericard Secured Credit Card

As a secured credit card with no annual fee, Bank of America’s Bank Americard Secured Credit Card is a contender for cost-conscious consumers. With a $0 liability guarantee for fraudulent transactions and overdraft protection, the card is also a good choice for people who want to build their credit with some training wheels on responsibly. Perhaps best of all, your security deposit will be returned to you after evidence of responsible card usage.
These perks are great, but they do come with separate fees, albeit no annual fee. For example, you’ll pay $12 per transaction for your overdraft protection. Additionally, the Bank Americard Secured Credit Card has a regular APR rate of 22.99%.

Summary of credit cards without a hard check

CardAPRMinimum DepositAnnual Fee
Open Sky Secured Visa17.39%$200$35
Discover it Secured10.99 first 6 months then 22.99%$200$0
Citi Secured Mastercard22.49%$200$0
BankAmericard Secured22.99%$200$0

Costs/Fees

Most of the secured credit cards on this list have $0 annual fees—although you’ll pay $35 a year if you open the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card. While that might make it seem as if OpenSky’s secured card isn’t worth opening, it’s worth noting that other cards charge fees for foreign transactions, balance transfers, and overdraft protection. So they still may get some of your dollars if you aren’t privy to their terms and conditions.
The most significant cost associated with opening a secured credit card that doesn’t require a hard credit check is coming up with the security deposit. While some cards have minimums of just $49, other credit cards require a heftier minimum deposit of $200. Generally speaking, the cards with higher minimums also come with more perks, which can be frustrating if you want access to certain features, but money is tight for you each month. All of these factors are important to consider as you weigh the pros and cons of each card.

Pros/Cons

Pros
  • No hard credit check. If you’re rebuilding your credit, the last thing you want is a 10 point deduction just for opening a new card. All secured credit cards on this list don’t require a hard credit pull, meaning your credit report will not be impacted by applying for a card.
  • Can help build credit. Unlike using a debit card, a secured credit card helps you build your credit while having a limit set forth by a security deposit you can afford.
  • Many no-fee options. Just because you’re applying for a secured credit card doesn’t mean that you’ll be paying an annual fee. Many of the options highlighted here have $0 annual fees.
  • You don’t always have to sacrifice perks. If you’re interested in cashback, there’s a secured credit card for you from Discover. That’s your only option, but you’ve got one—complete with a dollar-for-dollar cash back match at the end of your first year!
Cons
  • Minimum deposit required. Some of the best secured credit cards have higher minimum deposits, which could be challenging to come up with if money is tight.
  • Not many perks. While Discover offers a card with some cash back perks, that’s your only option. If you’d instead open a Visa or Mastercard, you likely won’t get many perks at all.
  • Rarely any intro offers. The generous welcome offers and bonuses credit card companies give new cardholders make unsecured credit cards a bit more enticing. With a secured credit card, you’re getting more of a stepping stone than a full-fledged credit card with all the bells and whistles.

The bottom line

If you’re working to repair your credit or have no credit score, opening a secured credit card that doesn’t require a credit check can be a great way to start building credit responsibly. A hard credit pull can negatively impact your credit score for as long as two years, so having the ability to open a card that won’t ding your credit can be a major boon for anyone looking at boosting their creditworthiness. Of course, there are fewer options at your fingertips when it comes to soft pull credit cards, but there are still options worth considering in this niche.
While you might think of a secured credit card as a credit card with “training wheels,” there are credit card companies that offer a few different perks with their secured cards. These offerings aren’t as robust as unsecured credit cards might be; however, in the name of responsibility, it may be best for you to start with a secured card before graduating to an unsecured one. For example, you can still take advantage of Discover’s first-year cash back match and earn 2% cashback on your purchases if you open a Discover it Secured Credit Card. If presale access to concerts or other live events is more your style, the Citi Secured Mastercard could be worth opening to access its Citi Entertainment program.
Ultimately, you don’t want to be stuck using secured credit cards long-term. However, they definitely serve a purpose, and there’s no reason to think that just because you’re opening a secured credit card, you’re going to have to sacrifice all of the benefits a credit card offers. From $0 annual fees to cashback and $0 liability in instances of fraud, the above cards showcase that there is value to be gleaned from secured credit cards beyond avoiding a hard credit check on your report.
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