Looking for a credit card with no credit check?

You can't get a credit card in the UK without a credit check, BUT, you can find out if any card issuers would approve you, without it impacting your credit score. Plus, there is a large (and growing) range of cards out there designed for bad credit.

If you’ve got bad credit, then frustratingly, the lowest rate and most premium cards are likely to be unattainable right now. However, almost all card issuers now offer quick and easy “soft search” checks so you can find out whether or not you’d be approved before you apply. Crucially, these don’t involve a “hard search” of your credit file (which would have a very slight negative impact on your credit score).

Even better, you can also use comparison sites or other brokers to run soft-search checks with multiple card issuers in one go. If they’re doing a good job, they’ll be checking cards for high credit scores and cards for low credit scores so that users can identify the best deals that they’d be likely to get approved for.

If you’re not sure what your credit score looks like, it’s easy to find out for free.

Open Banking is still a new concept and there are very few credit card providers that offer this in the UK. However, Open Banking can assess how creditworthy you are as an applicant by looking at your finances overall, including your spending habits and savings, not just your credit history like a “hard” or “soft” search does.

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.

Can I get a credit card with no credit check?

Some countries offer credit cards without a credit check (such as secured cards in the US which require you to put down a deposit), but in the UK it’s not possible to get a credit card without one.

But although having a poor credit history will reduce your choices, there are still plenty of cards that cater to people with bad credit. In fact, some card issuers focus exclusively on this section of the market. If you have a low credit score, a “credit builder credit card” can be easier to get approved for than more mainstream cards.

You can now almost always find out if you’re eligible instantly and without affecting your credit score. If you give them permission, card issuers will run a “soft” search of your credit file so that you can find out if it’s worth your while applying, and then if you decide to go ahead and apply, they’ll run a full credit search.

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 and report for free on numerous websites (including Finder). You’re also entitled to ask the credit reference agencies for the raw data held in your credit file (this is called a statutory credit report) and they must give this to you for free. Depending on your score, you’re said to have excellent, very good, good, fair, poor or very poor credit:

Experian credit scores and ratings

Experian scoreExperian rating
0-560Very poor

Equifax credit scores and ratings

Equifax scoreEquifax rating
671-810Very good

TransUnion (formerly Callcredit) credit scores and ratings

TransUnion scoreTransUnion rating
0-550Very poor

All you need to know about credit scores

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. These cards are designed to act as a stepping stone to better credit cards as your score improves over time.

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

Finder’s tips for getting your application approved

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 roll, which could easily be rectified.
  • Make sure you give all the correct information and documents to hand before making an application (e.g. bank account details, annual income details) when you apply.
  • Check lender’s basic 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.

  • 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’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.

Credit builder and student credit cards

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
1 - 8 of 27
Name Product Finder Score Annual/monthly fees Initial credit limits Minimum income Representative APR Incentive Link
Zable credit card
Min. limit £200, max. limit £1,500.
Not specified
Representative example: Representative 48.9% APR (variable). Based on assumed borrowing of £1200. Rate of interest 48.9% (variable) annual.
Check eligibility
118 118 Money Guaranteed Rate Card
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 49% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 49% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Additional account needed
AIB Student Credit Card
Min. limit £300, max. limit not specified.
Not specified
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 12.2% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 12.9% APR (variable).
Additional account needed
HSBC Student Credit Card Visa
Min. limit £250, max. limit £500.
Not specified
Available alongside an HSBC Student Account (receive £100 and a 1-year subscription to Headspace when you open a new student account).
Representative example: When you spend £500 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).
Additional account needed
TSB Student Credit Card
Min. limit £500, max. limit £1,000.
Not specified
Representative example: When you spend £1,000 at a purchase rate of 21.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
Tymit Credit Card
Min. limit £500, max. limit £15,000.
Not specified
Representative Example: 29.9% (variable) based on a borrowing of £1200 over 12 months with no annual fee.
HSBC Classic Credit Card
Min. limit £250, max. limit not specified.
Discounts and exclusive offers for dining experiences, leisure activities and shopping available through HSBC Home and Away.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 29.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 29.9% APR (variable).
Tesco Bank Foundation Card
Min. limit £100, max. limit not specified.
5 points per £4 spent (£4 minimum) in Tesco and 1 point per £8 spent (£8 minimum) outside Tesco. Must have available credit to earn points. Points are converted to Tesco vouchers or can be exchanged for Partner rewards to receive money off a variety of restaurants, entertainment or Avios points.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 29.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 29.9% APR (variable).

Approval for any credit card depends on your status. The representative APRs shown represent the interest rate offered to most successful applicants. Depending on your personal circumstances, the APR you're offered may be higher, or you may not be offered credit at all. Fees and rates are subject to change without notice. It's always wise to check the terms of any deal before you borrow. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables is provided by Moneyfacts.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.
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Written by

Head of publishing

Chris Lilly is Head of publishing at finder.com. He's a specialist in personal finance, from day-to-day banking to investing to borrowing, and is passionate about helping UK consumers make informed decisions about their money. In his spare time Chris likes forcing his kids to exercise more. See full bio

Chris's expertise
Chris has written 612 Finder guides across topics including:
  • Loans & credit cards
  • Building credit
  • Financial health

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