Credit cards with no credit check

Wondering if it's possible to get a credit card with no credit check? The short answer is no, but there are cards out there for bad credit.

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Although some countries offer credit cards without a credit check (such as a secured card in the US), it isn’t possible in the UK to get a credit card without one. Most reputable lenders will run a search on your credit report before approving you for a credit card.

While having a poor credit history will hamper your choices, there are still methods of obtaining credit. Products available to people with a low credit score can give you a stepping stone to better credit cards as your score improves over time.

If you’ve got bad credit and are concerned you will be rejected for a credit card, find out your options.

What is bad credit?

Your credit report is a detailed record of your financial history, which lenders use to decide whether to offer you credit. Your credit history is stored by credit reference agencies, the biggest in the UK being Equifax, Experian and TransUnion (formerly Callcredit). You can get your credit score for free on numerous websites. However, you may need to pay to get your full credit report from one of the agencies.

Depending on your score, you’re said to have excellent, good, fair, poor or very poor credit:

AgencyScoreRating
Experian0-560
561-720
721-880
881-960
961-999
Very poor
Poor
Fair
Good
Excellent
Equifax0-279
280-379
380-419
420-465
466-700
Very poor
Poor
Fair
Good
Excellent
TransUnion (formerly Callcredit)0-550
561-565
566-603
604-627
628-710
Very poor
Poor
Fair
Good
Excellent

All you need to know about credit scores

Eligibility check vs application

Before applying for a credit card, it’s important to distinguish between a “soft” and a “hard” search on your credit report.

When you’re considering a particular credit card, most banks and credit card providers offer an eligibility check on their website. This is a simple online form that can tell you your chances of success in obtaining a credit card. This is known as a “soft” search because it doesn’t impact your credit report.

However, making a formal application involves the lender doing a “hard” search on your credit history, which usually has a slight negative effect on your credit score. Regardless of whether your application is a success, if a potential lender sees a lot of hard searches on your report in a small space of time, this could suggest you are struggling to find credit and could put lenders off.

What are my options?

If you have a bad credit score – or perhaps have no credit history at all – then a credit builder credit card could be a good place to start. While the interest rates are high and the credit limit is low, you can enjoy some of the benefits of credit card ownership while you build up your score with regular payments.

Unlike many mainstream credit cards that have introductory interest-free offers or reward bonuses, credit builder cards usually offer a standard interest rate from the get go. There are usually few benefits or rewards.

Alternatively, if you’re struggling to find approval for a credit builder, then consider a prepaid card. This isn’t a credit product, but you can use it like a credit card to pay for purchases in-store and online. It’s easiest to think of it like a gift card which you load with funds before using. There are no interest charges, but many prepaid cards do include admin or load fees.

All about prepaid cards

Compare credit builder credit cards

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
Updated October 24th, 2019
Name Product Annual/monthly fees Min. credit limit Max credit limit Min income Rep. APR Incentive Representative example
£0
£250
Subject to status: £1,000
Not specified
24.7%
Stay in control of your account with online servicing, a mobile app, SMS and email alerts.
Representative example: When you spend £1,000 at a purchase rate of 24.7% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.7% APR (variable).
£0
£500
Subject to status: £1,500
£15,000
24.9%
No fees for making purchases or withdrawing cash abroad – currencies are converted at the standard Mastercard exchange rate.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
£0
£250
Subject to status: £1,000
Not specified
29.3%
Representative example: When you spend £1,000 at a purchase rate of 29.3% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 29.3% APR (variable).
£0
£250
Subject to status: £1,000
Not specified
29.8%
You could get a credit limit increase after your 5th statement and further increases every 5 months, up to £4,000.
Representative example: When you spend £1,000 at a purchase rate of 29.84% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 29.8% APR (variable).
£0
£100
Subject to status: £600
£10,000
34.9%
Earn Asda vouchers every time you shop - 1% cashback on all Asda spend, 0.2% on all other transactions. Once £2.5 is earnt a voucher can be downloaded to spend in Asda stores.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 34.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 34.9% APR (variable).
£0
£150
Subject to status: £1,000
Not specified
39.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,000 at a purchase rate of 39.94% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 39.9% APR (variable).
£0
£500
Not specified
Not specified
26.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 26.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 26.9% APR (variable).
£0
£250
Subject to status: £1,500
£5,000
27.5%
Collect 1 Tesco Clubcard point per £4 spent (£4 minimum) in Tesco and 1 Clubcard point per £8 spent (£8 minimum) outside Tesco in each purchase transaction.  Must have available credit to collect Clubcard points. Clubcard points are turned into Clubcard vouchers every 3 months or sooner using Faster Vouchers. Clubcard vouchers can be used in Tesco or with Clubcard Reward Partners to get even more value on dining out, hotel stays and travel.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 27.542% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 27.5% APR (variable).
£0
£0
Not specified
Not specified
27.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 27.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 27.9% APR (variable).
£14 per month. Customer with a card credit limit of £1200: £14 per month. Customer with a card credit limit of £225: £8 per month. Customer with a card credit limit of £250: £3 per month
£225
Subject to status: £1,200
£8,400
28.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 0% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £14 per month. Customer with a card credit limit of £1200: £14 per month. Customer with a card credit limit of £225: £8 per month. Customer with a card credit limit of £250: £3 per month, your representative rate is 28.9% APR (variable).

Compare up to 4 providers

Tips for applying

While each lender’s criteria on deciding whether to lend money is different, there are some general things you can do to increase your chances of approval.

  • If the card issuer has got one, use an eligibility check before applying. Find out your realistic chances of getting a credit card before making an application.
  • Find out your credit score. Contact Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to see how you score. Certain factors could be affecting your score, like admin mistakes or not being on the electoral role, which could easily be rectified.
  • Make sure you have all the correct information and documents to hand before making an application (e.g. bank account details, annual income details).
  • Check lender’s eligibility criteria (e.g. minimum income, new customer).

It usually takes about 10-15 minutes to apply online and you usually know whether you’re approved in moments. Occasionally, some providers may require further information and your application could take up to two weeks to be processed.

Dos and don’ts

Credit card providers have different reasons for accepting or rejecting your application.

Here are some important dos and don’ts to help you increase your chances of approval and how to manage your credit card once you have it.

Dos
  • Use the eligibility check first before applying.
  • Pay off your full balance every month to avoid high interest charges.
  • Look out for annual or monthly fees or any other charges.
  • Use a credit card for a large purchase. If something goes wrong with the item or the retailer goes bust, you are protected by Section 75 and are usually entitled to a refund. If you paid on a debit card, you would have little to no protection.
Don’ts
  • Don’t forget to pay on time – you’ll accrue penalty fees as well as high interest.
  • Don’t make multiple credit card applications at once.
  • Don’t spend beyond your means. Credit cards are not free money.
  • Don’t withdraw cash on a credit card. This is treated as a cash advance and usually accrues interest immediately.

Frequently asked questions

Read about how different factors can affect your credit score

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