Low income credit cards

You can apply for a credit card, even if you have low or no income.

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Looking for low income credit cards? Income is only one qualifying factor to get approved for a credit card. Many credit card providers allow you to apply for a credit card if you have what is considered to be a low income. There are even ways to apply for a card if you earn no income at all.

What are low income credit cards?

Low income credit cards are for people with low (or no) income, providing them with a line of credit they might not otherwise have access to. Income is just one of many factors that a credit card provider will consider when you apply for a card. In Canada, some providers will specifically state minimum income requirements on the credit card’s general information page, while others will not.

Compare low income credit cards for 2020

Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Reward
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
12.99%
$20
$15,000
Take advantage of an introductory balance transfer offer, annual fee waiver in the first year, and low purchase and cash advance interest rates.
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
Shell AIR MILES Mastercard from BMO
19.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent at participating AIR MILES Partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles.
Shell CashBack Mastercard from BMO
19.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 1.5% cash back at participating Shell locations in Canada (up to a maximum spend of $2,500 in any monthly billing period), and get 0.5% cash back everywhere else.
Get $50 in cash back bonuses once you charge your first eligible purchase to your card. Plus, earn 1% cash back for the first 6 months on all eligible purchases.
BMO Rewards Mastercard
19.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 1 BMO Reward point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases, and get 2 BMO Rewards points for every $1 spent at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations.
Earn a bonus of up to 15,000 BMO Rewards points. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO IGA AIR MILES Mastercard
19.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent on eligible purchases at IGA stores and at participating AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent elsewhere.
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles.
BMO U.S. Dollar Mastercard
19.99%
$35 USD
$15,000
Receive an annual fee rebate with a minimum yearly spend of US$1,000. Plus, spend in US Dollars with no exchange rate surprises.
When your purchases total US$1,000 or more in a year, the next year's annual fee (US$35) is rebated to your card.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
19.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent elsewhere.
Earn 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
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How does a card provider determine if I qualify for a credit card?

Credit card providers, and especially providers of low income credit cards, must avoid extending credit to someone who does not have the ability to make the required repayments. This is also why a provider must responsibly issue an appropriate credit card limit should you be approved for a card.

In order to determine someone’s eligibility, the card provider will weigh several factors, including income. Specifically, providers will look at your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio — your combined monthly debt payments in comparison to your monthly income. Most credit card providers will not issue a card to someone who has a DTI of 43% or higher. Providers will look at this figure when determining how much you can afford to pay and will then set your credit card limit accordingly. This includes being able to make payments on a fully maxed-out credit card.

Other important factors providers consider include your credit score and your credit history.

What should I look out for when applying for low income credit cards?

  • Annual fee. Paying an annual fee to a credit card provider can offset any payments you default on. Since low income borrowers are generally seen as high risk, paying an annual fee for a card could be a lenders way of protecting themselves. Watch out for credit cards with a high annual fee.
  • High interest rate. Again, because you may be considered high risk, you can likely expect a higher APR, which means you’ll be paying more in interest on your purchases. Look for the lowest possible APR you can qualify for.
  • No frills features. Most cards that a low income earner will qualify for don’t offer extras like cash back rewards, access to concierge services, travel benefits and complimentary rental car insurance coverage.
  • Low credit limit. If you earn a low income, your credit limit will also be low. Credit card providers can only extend the amount of credit that the borrower can realistically repay.

Are there any cards available to someone with no income?

Yes, some providers will offer a credit card to an individual with no income. Keep in mind some of these cards have high annual fees and your credit limit will be set accordingly. Additionally, just because the credit card has no income requirements, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be approved for it. You will need to meet other criteria like age, residency and credit score requirements.

BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard

BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard

12.99 % APR

Purchase interest rate

Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply

BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard

Apply today and get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year. Plus, get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months (with a 1% transfer fee).

  • Purchase interest rate: 12.99%
  • Cash advance rate: 12.99%
  • Intro balance transfer rate: 3.99% for the first 9 months
  • Standard balance transfer rate: 12.99%
  • Annual fee: $20
  • Credit rating: Good
  • Minimum age: Age of majority in the province/territory of residence.
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What about secured credit cards?

It can be frustrating getting denied for a credit card, even low income credit cards, but don’t lose hope: There are options available to those with low income and poor credit. If you’ve applied for some low income credit cards with no minimum income requirements and still find yourself out of luck, you can consider applying for a secured credit card. Secured credit cards allow you to rebuild your credit score. With a low security deposit, you can start adding positive information to your credit history.

A secured credit card requires a security deposit to be made against the credit limit for the card. The credit limit is usually equal to the amount of the security deposit. As an example, if you make a $500 security deposit, you will have a $500 credit limit. Aside from the security deposit, your secured credit card behaves just like a regular credit card. Your purchases are charged against the credit limit and you’re required to make at least the minimum repayment each month. Your security deposit is held in case you default on your repayments. As long as you pay as agreed, your security deposit will be returned to you once you no longer need the card.

Making your monthly repayments on time and in full will begin to raise your credit score, which will allow you, in the future, to qualify for a credit card that lets you reap the rewards from your spending.

Secured credit cards in Canada

Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Benefits with this card Description
Refresh Secured Card
17.99%
N/A
$12.95
N/A
The Refresh Secured Card has no credit check, a low annual fee and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with anywhere from $200 - $10,000.
Take advantage of a low annual fee, with no credit check and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with some funds.
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Bottom line

Having a low income doesn’t have to stop you from getting a credit card. But if you keep getting declined for ones you want, consider applying for a secured credit card to compare your other options for building your credit.

Frequently asked questions about low income credit cards

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