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Getting a credit card without a job

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Unemployment doesn’t have to be a hurdle when getting new plastic.

These days, having a credit card feels like a necessity. Whether you need it to make everyday purchases, or for something larger, like to build credit so you can buy a home, it’s always a good idea to carry plastic. If you don’t have a job, however, applying for a card might feel a bit daunting. That said, being unemployed should not get in the way of you acquiring a card.

Here are a few things you should know if you don’t have a job and are trying to get a credit card.

What credit card companies will consider if you apply without a job

Some card issuers won’t ask for employment details in the application form, while others will. In either case, your options are as follow:

  • Provide employment details.
    If you are transitioning to a new job, you shouldn’t have problems providing your new employer’s details. But if the issuer requires several months of payment history, you could either wait or apply for another card at another card issuer.
  • Provide income details.
    When credit card application is concerned, income is more important than employment. You can provide any income you have, including social security, child support, alimony and scholarships. Any income you have would work.
  • Credit history.
    Unless you’re a fresh graduate, your credit history always factors heavily into all credit applications. Having a good credit history will help in this case.

Tips to improve your chances of credit card approval

Approved credit card application

If you have a solid income, even without a job, you could still get a decent credit card. But if you have limited or no income, you can:

  • List someone else’s income.
    You could use your spouse’s income if you have access to pay your balance.
  • Become an authorized user.
    You can apply with someone else to become an authorized user or you can be added as an authorized user to an existing credit card. This can be either your spouse or family members. As an authorized user, you aren’t liable for credit card payments.
  • Get a joint account.
    Similar to being an authorized user, you can apply for a joint account with another person. But in this case, you’re both liable for credit card payments.
  • Consider a secured card.
    To get a secured card, you have to make a secured deposit. This serves as your credit line. Since you already paid your credit line, banks have minimized their risk and are likely to approve your application.
  • Consider a student card.
    If you’re a student without a job, you can get a card easier than if you aren’t a student. However, showing annual income still applies. You can use your parents’ income if they allow you to.

Compare credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual Fee
7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$0
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
5x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases
N/A
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Get 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5x points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & fees
N/A
0% for the first 18 months (then 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable)
$0
An 18 months 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases
0% for the first 12 months (then 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable)
$0
Earn 3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases. See Rates and Fees.
2x miles at US restaurants and on direct Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$0
Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees

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%
Name Product Balance Transfer APR Balance Transfer Fee Recommended Minimum Credit Score Amount Saved Filter values
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
680
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
0% for the first 18 months (then 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable)
$10 or 4% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
An 18 months 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
680
Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
0% for the first 12 months (then 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable)
$10 or 4% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
Earn 3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases. See Rates and Fees.
0% for the first 12 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
680
Earn $250 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees

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Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual Fee
2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$0
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases
0% for the first 12 months (then 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable)
$0
Earn 3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases. See Rates and Fees.
1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$0
Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion
20.24% to 26.24% variable
$0 to $99
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion.
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% for the first 12 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$95
Earn $250 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees

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Name Product Filter values Purchase APR Annual Fee Recommended Minimum Credit Score
19.64% variable
$35
300
A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
26.74% variable
$0
300
No credit history or minimum credit score required for approval.
14.74% variable
$39
580
No minimum credit score and no credit history required.
20.74% variable
$29
300
Build your credit with all three major credit bureaus.
9.99% fixed
$48
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This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.

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Name Product Filter values Annual Fee Purchase APR Recommended Minimum Credit Score
$0
24.9% variable
580
A no-annual-fee credit card and discounts when you shop at Target.
See terms
See issuer's website
300
Build your credit history with low monthly payments.
See terms
See issuer's website
300
Get access to purchase items in the Fingerhut store with no overlimit fees.
$0
5.75% to 23.99% fixed
300
Buy now, pay later — low monthly payments make shopping easier
$0
5.75% to 23.99% fixed
580
Payments starting at just $10 a month.

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Bottom line

Getting a credit card without a job may seem impossible, but you have several options at hand, including being an authorized user, applying for a joint account, applying with someone else’s income or applying for a secured card or a student card.

Whichever path you choose, it’s important that you compare your credit card options to find the right card for your situation.

Pictures: Shutterstock

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