The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Saturday, November 23, 2019

2019 Guide: How to Apply for Credit Cards (Rewards, Secured & Business)

2019 Guide: How to Apply for Credit Cards (Rewards, Secured & Business)

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: May 9, 2019

Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

In a world of instant credit checks, digital payments, and online shopping, basic consumer credit skills — like knowing how to apply for a credit card and use it wisely — are becoming more necessary than ever.

But, while the lack of proper financial education in the U.S. has been lamented for years, fewer than half of states offer even basic courses in economics, let alone more comprehensive education in personal finance and consumer credit.

Thankfully, sites like ours are here to help fill in the gaps. For example, this guide covers what you need to know to apply for any type of credit card, from unsecured starter cards to your first small business credit card.

Unsecured Cards | Secured Cards | Store Cards | Business Cards | FAQs

How to Apply for an Unsecured Credit Card

In general, there are two types of credit cards: unsecured cards and secured cards. The main difference between the two types of cards (and their associated debts) is that unsecured credit cards won’t require any type of collateral to open, while secured cards require a cash deposit to open and maintain.

Unsecured credit cards are considered to be a greater credit risk for the issuer since there is limited recourse for recovering defaulted debt with unsecured cards. As a result, unsecured cards tend to have higher credit requirements than secured cards, and unsecured cards for consumers with poor credit will charge higher rates and fees than those for consumers with good credit.

Despite the higher risk, the typical credit card you’ll see advertised — usually touting its purchase rewards — will be an unsecured credit card. Indeed, so many unsecured credit cards exist that actually choosing a card will likely be the hardest part of the two-step process required to apply for a credit card.

1. Choose a Card | 2. Apply Online

1. Choose an Unsecured Card That Fits Your Needs

The first step to choosing the right unsecured credit card is to check your credit reports and scores. If you have good credit, for instance, then the choice becomes about what type of credit card rewards you want and whether you want to pay an annual fee. But, if your credit is poor or you need to build credit, your options become much more limited.

Rewards | No Annual Fee | No Credit | Bad Credit | Students

Best Unsecured Cards with Rewards

With a little bit of effort and some strategic spending, the top rewards credit cards can easily earn hundreds of dollars’ worth of rewards every year. The key to getting full value from your rewards is to choose cards that complement your lifestyle and spending habits.

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.74% - 25.74% Variable
$450
Good/Excellent

Nearly any list of the best rewards cards will include this card, which offers 3X Ultimate Rewards® per dollar on travel and dining purchases, plus 1X point per dollar on everything else. Versatile Ultimate Rewards® points can be used for travel through Chase’s portal, or they can be transferred to one of Chase’s hotel or airline partner loyalty programs.

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.49% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

If you don’t like the idea of tracking bonus categories, this card may be a good fit, offering an unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, regardless of category. Miles can be redeemed as a statement credit or transferred to one of Capital One’s airline partners as frequent flyer miles.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers a remarkable 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in grocery store purchases each year, plus unlimited 6% back on select U.S. streaming services and 3% cash back on both transit and gas station purchases.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6k a year) & on select U.S. streaming services
  • Earn 3% cash back on U.S. gas station and transit purchases
  • Pay a $95 annual fee

Cash back is easily redeemed as a statement credit. The card also comes with a competitive signup bonus and an introductory 0% APR offer. There is an annual fee, but even cardholders with modest grocery budgets can easily make up the annual fee and more with cash back rewards.

Best Unsecured Cards with No Annual Fee

Although paying an annual fee can be worth the investment if you can reap big rewards or enjoy valuable benefits, not all cardholders want to pay for perks. Happily, you can find tons of great cards that offer both competitive rewards and no annual fee.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

This card can unlock some big rewards for having no annual fee thanks to its rotating 5% cash back bonus categories. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases every activated quarter in categories like gas, restaurants, and grocery stores. Plus, with Discover’s Cash Back Match, all of the rewards you earn the first year are automatically doubled at the end of the year.

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

Users who want a simple cash back experience can use this no-annual-fee card that comes with unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. It also offers an introductory 0% APR offer and a signup bonus that boosts your rewards.

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.74% - 25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74% - 25.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • No foreign transaction fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

Despite having no annual fee, this card can offer a lot of value thanks to its three useful bonus categories. Cardholders earn 3% cash back on both dining and entertainment purchases, as well as receiving 2% cash back at grocery stores and unlimited 1% cash back on everything else.

Best Unsecured Cards for No Credit

While you’ll need an established credit history to get many types of credit, starter credit cards can be a great way to establish and build your credit. Secured starter cards are easier to find, but some solid unsecured cards can be obtained without a credit history, though you’ll likely need to pay an annual fee if you want rewards.

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
3.8/5.0
  • Pay no annual fee
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

This card is ideal for consumers who want to establish and build credit without having to worry about paying an annual fee. It doesn’t come with fancy rewards, but it does offer standard cardholder benefits like $0 fraud liability and extended warranty coverage.

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.5
OVERALL RATING
4.5/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$39
Average, Fair, Limited

With its unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards, this card may be a good choice for consumers who want to earn rewards while they build credit. It does have an annual fee, however, so be sure you’ll earn enough rewards to cover the annual fee (and then some).

Petal Visa Card

The Petal Card is a nontraditional credit card option that was designed to help people establish credit. The card has no annual fee, a competitive interest rate, and workable credit limits.

Petal Visa Card

  • Credit limits of $500 to $10,000 available, depending on creditworthiness
  • No minimum credit history requirement
  • Pay $0 annual fee

In addition to not charging an annual fee, this card won’t charge late fees or a penalty APR for late payments. Plus, it has no foreign transaction fees when used abroad.

Best Unsecured Cards for Bad Credit

A poor credit history that includes missed payments, defaulted accounts, or maxed-out credit cards will put most unsecured cards out of reach. Some subprime cards, like those below, may be options, but watch out for high interest rates and pricey annual fees.

Milestone® Mastercard® - Less Than Perfect Credit Considered Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.5
OVERALL RATING
3.9/5.0
  • Prequalify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Protection from fraud if your card is stolen
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
  • *Dependent on credit worthiness
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.9%
$35 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit

This card is a decent pick for a subprime card, offering a competitive purchase APR and a variable annual fee that will depend on your individual creditworthiness. Some applicants may also be required to pay an account opening fee.

Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★
4.4
OVERALL RATING
3.8/5.0
  • Pre-qualify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Fraud protection for stolen or lost cards
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.9%
$0 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit

One of the more affordable subprime credit cards, this card has a decent purchase APR and no application or processing fees. The annual fee will depend on creditworthiness. Late payments may result in a penalty APR being applied, so be sure to pay on time each month.

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa® Review

at Credit One'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★
4.3
OVERALL RATING
3.7/5.0
  • Seeing if you Pre-Qualify is fast, easy, and secure
  • Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchase, terms apply
  • Rewards post automatically to your account each month
  • Automatic reviews for credit line increase opportunities
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Pick a card that fits your style. Multiple card designs are available, a fee may apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.74%-25.74% Variable
$0 - $99
Poor

Credit One offers some of the only rewards cards for consumers with bad credit, though the exact rewards program you’re offered will vary based on your creditworthiness. Similarly, the annual fee and APR will also be determined based on your individual credit profile.

Best Unsecured Cards for Students

As a student, you’re just at the beginning of your financial journey, with a potential lifetime of spending ahead of you. This makes you an important acquisition for a financial brand that wants your loyalty early. Student credit cards have no minimum credit history requirements, and they often come with low fees and purchase rewards to sweeten the deal.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
14.49% - 23.49% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit

Although some student cards skimp on the rewards, this card has all the perks of its non-student counterpart, including quarterly rotating 5% cash back rewards. Earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases each activated quarter, plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Cardholders won’t pay an annual fee, and students can earn a statement credit for maintaining good grades.

STUDENT RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.2/5.0
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get Eno®, your Capital One® assistant, to manage your account via text, receive alerts, and shop safer online
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

This student card is a solid starter card that rewards good credit habits. Users earn an unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase, with an additional 0.25% cash back on earnings for every month you pay your bill on time. Users pay no annual fee, but the APR is high enough that you’ll want to avoid carrying a balance.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students is an excellent student option for a number of reasons, starting with the lack of an annual fee. Plus, cardholders can choose their own 3% cash back bonus category each month.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students

  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings
  • Earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • Pay $0 annual fee

Not only do users get a 3% bonus category of their choice, but the card also offers 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. Bonus cash back is limited to the first $2,500 in combined category purchases per quarter.

2. Fill Out an Online Application

Once you’ve gone through the options and selected a card, the hardest part is over. Now, all you need to do is head to the credit card issuer’s website to fill out a quick online application.

Although each issuer may have a slightly different application process, in general, they all have the same requirements. You’ll usually need the following information to apply for a credit card:

  • Your name
  • Your phone number
  • Your physical address
  • Your email address
  • Your date of birth
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your employment status
  • Your annual income
  • Which type of bank account you have
  • How much you spend on housing each month

Once you hit the “submit” button on your application, the issuer’s decision algorithm will evaluate your application. In many cases, you should get a decision within a few minutes of submitting your application, without even needing to leave the page.

If the computer algorithm can’t make a decision for some reason, you may get a “pending” notice. This typically means that your application needs to be evaluated by a human — rather than the computer — or that additional information is needed for a decision to be made.

Most of the time, you can expect a letter in the mail within seven to 10 business days that either contains your application decision or that includes instructions for how to submit whatever documentation is needed.

How to Apply for a Secured Credit Card

Loaning things to people is risky. You always face the risk that the borrower won’t return whatever it is they borrowed. And when what was borrowed is money, that loss can get costly quickly.

Credit card issuers aren’t big fans of risk, so they rely on consumer credit reports to minimize the risks inherent in extending credit lines. Because consumers with poor credit represent a high level of risk, issuers are less likely to offer them unsecured credit.

That’s where secured credit cards come in. Secured credit cards are applied for and used just like unsecured cards, with one exception: the deposit. Secured cards require a cash deposit that the issuer can rely on in the case of default, which makes secured cards easier to get and more affordable for consumers with bad credit than most unsecured options.

1. Choose a Card | 2. Apply Online & Make Your Deposit

1. Choose a Secured Card That Fits Your Needs

Nearly every major credit card issuer has at least one secured credit card offering, as do many smaller community banks and credit unions. While there may be some variation in the minimum deposit requirements, the main factors that will differentiate your secured card options will be the annual fee — you can find some with no fee at all — and the rewards (if any).

No Annual Fee | Rewards

Best Secured Cards with No Annual Fee

Annual fees are rarely welcome expenses, but they can be especially burdensome when you’re already handing over hundreds of dollars for a security deposit. Luckily, you can find a number of great secured cards that won’t charge you an annual fee. (Keep in mind that they won’t have the lowest interest rates, but you should be paying off your balance in full each month anyway.)

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★
4.0
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

In addition to charging no annual fee, this is one of the few cards from a major bank with the ability to be partially secured. The size of your deposit will vary based on your creditworthiness. Plus, making the first five payments on time can unlock a larger credit limit.

Discover it® Secured Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★
3.7
OVERALL RATING
3.7/5.0
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% for 6 months
24.49% Variable
$0
New/Rebuilding

An all-around solid pick, this card not only offers purchase rewards, but it also charges no annual fee. The minimum deposit requirement is reasonable, and your credit line will be equal to the deposit. Discover will automatically upgrade the account to an unsecured card when you become eligible.

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a basic, no-fee secured credit card that has a low $200 minimum security deposit requirement. The card is upgradable to an unsecured card over time.

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

  • Check your balance, view transactions, and make payments using free online and mobile banking tools
  • Provide a security deposit between $200-$2,500
  • Pay $0 annual fee

The credit line you receive will be equivalent to the amount of your deposit. If qualified, you may be able to make a deposit of up to $2,500 for a credit line of equal size.

Best Secured Cards with Rewards

Credit card rewards are one of the best parts of card membership, and you don’t need to forgo them just because you can’t get an unsecured card. Just watch out — many secured cards with rewards will charge an annual fee, so make sure you’ll earn enough in rewards to offset any fees.

Discover it® Secured Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★
3.7
OVERALL RATING
3.7/5.0
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% for 6 months
24.49% Variable
$0
New/Rebuilding

A rarity in the secured card world, this option not only offers cash back rewards on every purchase, but it won’t charge an annual fee to do so. Plus, Discover will track your credit-building progress and automatically upgrade your account to an unsecured account when you become eligible.

SunTrust Secured Credit Card with Cash Rewards

The SunTrust Secured Credit Card with Cash Rewards is a competitive cash back card that also happens to be a secured card with flexible credit requirements. The card does have an annual fee and a minimum deposit requirement of $300.

SunTrust Secured Credit Card with Cash Rewards

  • Earn 2% cash back on up to $6,000 in combined gas and grocery purchases each year
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Pay a $32 annual fee

This is one of the few secured cards that lets you earn interest on your deposit, which you’ll receive when you close your account in good standing or are upgraded to an unsecured credit card automatically by SunTrust.

Aeromexico Visa® Secured Card

The Aeromexico Visa® Secured Card is one of a small number of airline co-branded secured credit cards, and users can earn Aeromexico frequent flyer miles on every purchase. Plus, cardholders earn bonus miles for gas and grocery store purchases.

Aeromexico Visa® Secured Card

  • Earn 2X Aeromexico miles per dollar on gas and grocery store purchases
  • Earn 1X mile per dollar on eligible net purchases
  • Pay $25 annual fee

This card charges a $25 annual fee and requires a security deposit of at least $300. However, qualified applicants can deposit up to $5,000 for a larger credit line.

2. Fill Out an Online Application & Make Your Deposit

The actual process of filling out the application for a secured credit card will usually be the same as that for an unsecured card. You can simply go to the issuer’s website, find the page for the card you want, and click the “apply” button.

The application will ask for general personal information — such as your name, address, SSN, and phone number — as well as information about your income, employment status, and monthly housing expenses. You’ll also need to verify that you have either an active checking or savings account.

Once you’ve submitted the application, the algorithm will evaluate your qualifications. As with unsecured cards, you’ll typically get a decision within minutes of submitting your application. However, if you’re approved, you’ll need to go through one more step for a secured card: making the deposit.

How to Use a Secured Credit Card

The simplest way to fund the deposit for a secured credit card is through an ACH bank transfer directly from your checking or savings account. You’ll need to meet at least the minimum deposit requirement for your card, and that deposit will remain in a locked savings account with the issuing bank.

Although it’s tempting to make just the minimum required deposit and move on, you may want to consider a larger deposit if you can afford to make one. That’s because your credit line will typically be equal to the amount of your deposit, and a larger credit limit can benefit your utilization rate, especially if you plan on using the card for everyday purchases.

How to Apply for a Store Credit Card

Adorning nearly every store checkout counter and shopping cart screen are the enthusiastic ads touting the wonders of the store’s branded credit card. They lure applicants in with promises of purchase rewards, exclusive deals, and special financing that can be hard to resist.

All in all, store credit cards are a mixed bag. If you are a frequent shopper of a particular store that happens to offer a decent rewards card, then it can be worthwhile to add one to your wallet. And some store cards can be easier to get than your typical unsecured card for folks with damaged credit.

However, store cards also tend to come with limitations. Most store cards are closed-loop, meaning they can only be used to make branded purchases — and the same goes for any rewards you earn. Moreover, that special financing that seemed so perfect will likely come with not-so-perfect deferred interest.

For better or worse, applying for a store credit card is as easy as applying for any other type of credit card, though the process may vary a little if you decide to apply in-store rather than through an online application. Of course, it all starts with choosing a card.

1. Choose a Card | 2. Apply Online or In-Store

1. Choose a Store Card That Fits Your Needs

Although it’s certainly a good idea to make sure any credit card you obtain fits in with your spending habtis and lifestyle, it’s absolutely essential when it comes to picking a store credit card. Ideally, you should only apply for store credit cards that will offer real, long-term value for stores you patronize frequently.

Online Retailers | Department Stores | Bad Credit

Best Store Cards from Online Retailers

As much as one-third of consumers’ discretionary spending takes place online these days, and more retailers are forgoing brick-and-mortar stores for code-and-graphics ecommerce platforms. If you like the convenience of online shopping, you may be considering a store credit card from your favorite online retailer.

Fingerhut Credit Account Review

at Fingerhut'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★
4.0
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
  • Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands like Samsung, KitchenAid, and DeWalt
  • Not an access card
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Issuers Website
$0
Poor Credit

Fingerhut.com is an online retailer that offers thousands of items from many of the top brands. This card can be used to make Fingerhut.com purchases while also building credit. There are no minimum credit score requirements to qualify, though terms may vary based on your creditworthiness.

Amazon.com Store Card

The Amazon.com Store Card is a good pick for cardholders who are already Prime members, as it offers 5% back for Prime cardholders. All cardholders also receive special financing on eligible Amazon.com purchases.

Amazon.com Store Card

  • Receive special financing on eligible Amazon.com orders of $149 or more made with your card
  • Amazon Prime members also get 5% cash back at Amazon.com
  • Pay $0 annual card fee (Prime fee may apply)

Make sure you can pay off any purchase for which you use the card’s special financing, as it utilizes deferred interest. With deferred interest, you need to pay off every cent by the end of the promotional period or else you’ll be charged interest on the entire purchase.

Overstock Store Credit Card

The Overstock Store Credit Card is a pretty basic store credit card that offers special financing but no extras like rewards. The length of the financing terms available will vary based on the size of the purchase.

Overstock Store Credit Card

  • Receive special 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-month deferred interest financing on eligible purchases
  • Receive exclusive cardholder promotions
  • Pay $0 annual fee

As with most store cards, the special financing through this card will come with deferred interest, which means you’ll be required to pay interest on the entire purchase amount if you cannot pay off the full financed balance by the end of the promotional period.

Best Store Cards from Department Stores

Although the old-school mall-anchoring department store is said to be dying off, department stores aren’t dead yet, and they’re still a popular shopping destination for millions of people each year. Most department store credit cards provide meager rewards, at best, but they may still offer a bit of value for frequent shoppers.

Kohl’s Charge Card

The Kohl’s Charge Card is a store credit card that focuses on offering exclusive discounts and coupons instead of purchase rewards. Cardholders receive at least 12 special offers each year.

Kohl’s Charge Card

  • Get at least 12 special Kohl’s offers annually to use in-store or online if you’re a cardholder
  • Receive an anniversary gift each year
  • Pay $0 annual fee

Users will also receive a special anniversary gift every year. Cardholders who spend at least $600 with their card in a calendar year can unlock a birthday gift and access to free shipping events each month.

Dillard’s Card

The Dillard’s Card offers traditional store card purchase rewards at a rate of 2X points per dollar on all Dillard’s Card purchases, both in-store and online.

Dillard’s Card

  • Earn 2X points per dollar on card purchases
  • 1,500 points unlock a $10 Rewards Certificate or an all-day 10%-Off Shopping Pass
  • Pay $0 annual fee

Users can redeem their rewards when they reach 1,500 points. Options include either a $10 Rewards Certificate or a Shopping Pass good for 10% off Dillard’s purchases for a full day.

JCPenney Credit Card

The JCPenney Credit Card had modest rewards of just 1X point per dollar on JCPenney purchases made with the card. Earning 200 points will unlock a $10 Reward.

JCPenney Credit Card

  • Earn 1X point per dollar on card purchases; 200 points unlock $10 Reward
  • Receive special financing on select purchases
  • Pay $0 annual fee

In addition to purchase rewards, cardholders can receive special financing on eligible purchases. The offer comes with deferred interest, however, so be sure to pay off the full financed amount to avoid being charged interest on the entire purchase.

Best Store Cards for Bad Credit

Although the limitations on closed-loop store credit cards can limit their usefulness, this can actually work in the favor of consumers with bad credit, as store cards are often easier to get than other types of unsecured cards (with the exception of subprime cards) when you have poor credit. Plus, many store cards charge $0 annual fee.

Target REDcard

The Target REDcard doesn’t have a typical rewards program, instead offering cardholders 5% off eligible purchases right at the register or online checkout screen.

Target REDcard

  • Get 5% off your total purchase at checkout for eligible in-store or online Target purchases
  • Receive exclusive deals & discounts
  • Pay $0 annual fee

Cardholders will also receive exclusive deals and discounts, as well as experience free two-day shipping on eligible online purchases and extended returns on qualifying transactions.

Amazon Prime Store Card Credit Builder

The Amazon Prime Store Card Credit Builder is one of the only secured store credit cards available, and it has a minimum deposit requirement of $100 for a credit line of the same size.

Amazon Prime Store Card Credit Builder

  • Receive special financing on eligible Amazon.com orders of $149 or more made with your card
  • Amazon Prime members also get 5% cash back at Amazon.com
  • Pay no annual card fee (Prime fee may apply)

If you have an active Amazon Prime account, this card can earn 5% back on Amazon.com purchases. Both Prime and non-Prime cardholders will receive special financing on eligible purchases, but watch out for the deferred interest that kicks in if you don’t repay your full purchase before the promotional rate expires.

Old Navy Credit Card

The Old Navy Credit Card has two tiers of cardholders based on annual spend. At the base level, cardholders earn 5X points per dollar on every card purchase, with a $5 Reward for every 500 points.

Old Navy Credit Card

  • Earn 5X points per dollar on purchases at Old Navy and other Gap Inc.-brand purchases
  • Reach Navyist status by earning 5,000 points
  • Pay $0 annual fee

When you earn 5,000 points in a calendar year, you’ll reach Navyist status, which unlocks extras like 20% bonus points each quarter, free shipping on online orders, and free basic alterations at Banana Republic.

2. Fill Out an Online Application or Apply In Your Local Store

Once you know which store’s card you’d like to apply for, you need to decide whether to apply online or to head into the store. Both the in-store and online applications should ask you the same basic things — e.g., name, address, SSN, employment status, income, and so on.

However, while the applications will likely be the same, the deal you get for signing up may not be; some store cards offer different signup bonuses for approved applications depending on how you sign up. For example, you may get a special in-store coupon for applying in the store that isn’t available to online applicants.

Regardless of where you apply, you should get a decision within a few minutes. In most cases, you’ll be able to start using your store credit card right away to make in-store or online purchases.

Be careful when deciding to use your new card right away, however, as you likely won’t be able to create an online banking account for your new card until it arrives in the mail, and many store cards won’t allow you to make card payments in the stores.

Using the “Shopping Cart Trick”

According to some online reports, using a method referred to as the shopping cart trick to apply for certain store credit cards may be able to bypass the hard credit inquiry usually associated with a new credit card application.

The “trick” relies on the branded credit card pop-up ads that often appear when on the check-out screen for some retailers’ online shopping sites. Applying for a store card through one of these pop-ups reportedly triggers a soft credit pull, rather than a hard pull, during the evaluation.

Screenshot of a Store Credit Card Pop Up Offer

Many stores will offer their branded credit card through pop-up offers at the check-out screen.

While this may seem like a great way to skip the hard inquiry on your next store card, the shopping cart trick seems to be finicky, at best (and a complete fabrication, at worst). For one thing, reports are mixed as to what, exactly, makes the trick work. Some reports claim that you need to join the retailer’s loyalty program, and you may or may not need to clear your borrower’s cookies and cache.

And, though most reports agree you need items in your digital shopping cart for the trick to work, reviews are mixed as to how much you need to add. Furthermore, most guides on the topic will point out that the trick may not work on every try even if you follow every piece of advice to the letter.

How to Apply for a Business Credit Card

Keeping your personal and business expenses separate is basic business accounting 101, and a good business credit card can go a long way toward simplifying that process. What’s more, the right business credit card can help you earn lucrative rewards and unlock valuable cardholder perks like those found in the consumer card world.

Pretty much any type of business owner can be eligible for a business credit card, regardless of the size of the business — or its revenue stream. This means that you can apply for a business credit card for anything from an LLC to a partnership to a sole proprietorship or even a DBA.

Most of the basic elements of applying for a business credit card mimic those for a personal credit card. You’ll need to find the right card (based on your credit profile and spending needs) and fill out an online application.

However, there is an important extra step for business owners, as your business is considered to be a distinct entity so far as taxes are concerned. As such, you’ll need to set up separate business banking and tax accounts.

1. Choose a Card | 2. Get an EIN | 3. Apply Online

1. Choose a Business Card That Fits Your Needs

For the most part, selecting the right business credit card will come down to the rewards. You’ll want a card that offers rewards that complement your business expenses, ideally offering a high rewards rate for the purchases your business makes most often. You should also consider the annual fee, especially for small businesses with tight budgets.

Cash Back | Points & Miles | No Annual Fee | Fair Credit

Best Business Cards with Cash Back

Busy business owners like cash back rewards because they’re easy to redeem; in fact, some cash back business cards will automatically apply your cash back rewards as a statement credit each month. If you have a lot of common expenses, then a cash back card with useful bonus categories may be ideal. If your most frequent expenses fall outside the usual categories, try an unlimited flat-rate card.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BUSINESS CARD RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months
N/A 12 months
14.99% - 20.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

Nearly all types of business owners can get value out of this card thanks to its diverse bonus rewards categories, including up to 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and wireless services. Plus, cardholders who meet the minimum spending requirement can earn a sizable signup bonus — all while paying no annual fee.

BUSINESS CARD RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn up to $2,000 in cash bonuses
  • Earn a $500 cash bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and earn $1,500 when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of your account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • $0 annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

This card is a straightforward flat-rate cash back card that lets users earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase. And earn rewards even faster with free employee cards that also earn unlimited 2% cash back. The first year’s annual fee is waived, but the fee kicks in the second year.

BUSINESS CARD RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months
N/A 12 months
14.99% - 20.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

This no-annual-fee card lets users earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, with no categories to activate or track. It also comes with a 0% introductory APR and employee cards at no extra cost.

Best Business Cards with Points & Miles

Business credit cards that earn rewards points or miles are typically best for cardholders who want the option to redeem their rewards toward travel expenses, such as for flights or hotel stays. The best points and miles programs have flexible rewards that can be transferred to hotel and airline loyalty programs for high-value redemption.

BUSINESS CARD RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases - with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 22.74% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

This card’s rewards can add up fast. Users can enjoy 3X points per dollar on the first $150,000 of expenses for travel and select business categories. All other purchases earn 1X point per dollar. All these points won’t go to waste, either. As long as your account is open, they won’t expire.

BUSINESS CARD RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.7/5.0
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 200,000 bonus miles worth up to $2,000 to spend on travel—flights, hotels and more
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and earn 150,000 bonus miles when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of your account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won't expire for the life of the account
  • Earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel℠ using a Spark Miles card
  • Transfer your miles to 10+ leading travel loyalty programs like JetBlue™, Air Canada, and Emirates™
  • Redeem your miles instantly for any travel-related purchases, from flights and hotels to ride-sharing services
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

An unlimited miles card, this option gives users 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, regardless of category. Miles can be redeemed for a statement credit toward travel purchases or transferred to a partner airline frequent flyer program. New cardholders can enjoy a signup bonus and a waived annual fee for the first year.

Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express is a solid rewards card for small businesses with a lot of expenses outside the main bonus categories, as it earns 2X Membership Rewards® per dollar on every purchase for the first $50,000 in purchases.

Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points per $1 on the first $50,000 in purchases each year
  • Earn unlimited 1X points per $1 thereafter
  • Pay $0 annual fee

The card doesn’t come with an annual fee, but it also doesn’t have a rewards signup bonus. However, new cardholders can enjoy a long introductory 0% APR offer good on both new purchases and balance transfers for 12 months.

Best Business Cards with No Annual Fee

Credit card annual fees can easily range from $95 a year up to $550 or more, and while there are some cases in which the fees are worth paying, you certainly don’t need to pay a credit card annual fee just to earn competitive rewards. Cash back cards are the most common type of card offered without an annual fee, but you can find a range of both bonus category and flat-rate rewards cards.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BUSINESS CARD RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months
N/A 12 months
14.99% - 20.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

This option is a good card for anyone who doesn’t want to have to choose between good rewards and no annual fee. Cardholders can earn up to 5% cash back on purchases in a variety of useful business categories, including on internet, cable, and phone services. Plus, the big signup bonus and long intro-APR offer add even more value.

BUSINESS CARD RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Save on interest with 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 14.74% - 22.74% variable APR after that
  • No annual fee
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 9 months
N/A
14.74% - 22.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

If you want easy rewards without an annual fee or pesky categories to track, this card may be for you. Users can earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, and you won’t pay an annual fee. The card even comes with a modest signup bonus and an introductory 0% APR offer good on new purchases.

U.S. Bank Business Edge™ Select Rewards Card

The U.S. Bank Business Edge™ Select Rewards Card is a customizable points card that gives users their pick of three different bonus rewards categories that earn 3X points per dollar.

U.S. Bank Business Edge™ Select Rewards Card

  • Earn 3X rewards points on a broad bonus category of your choice, including day-to-day expenses, automotive, and travel/entertainment
  • Earn unlimited 1X point on all other purchases
  • Pay no annual fee

The bonus rewards categories are broad, each including at least five subcategories, such as the Day-to-Day category that covers shipping, advertising, utilities, office supplies, and telecom and professional services.

Best Business Cards for Fair Credit

Unless you’re applying for a corporate credit card, your personal credit will be a factor in getting approved for a business credit card. As a result, you may be turned down for most business credit cards if your personal credit needs some improvement. Or, you can try the entry-level business credit cards below.

BUSINESS CARD RATING
★★★★★
4.5
OVERALL RATING
4.5/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • No annual fee
  • Build and strengthen credit for your business by using this credit card responsibly
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.74% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

This is one of the only cards from a major bank designed for business owners who may have less-than-ideal personal credit. Not only does it have flexible credit requirements, but it also offers unlimited 1% cash back, doesn’t charge an annual fee, and comes with free employee cards that also earn rewards.

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

The Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card requires a security deposit to open and maintain, with a minimum deposit requirement of at least $500. Qualified applicants can put down up to $25,000 for a larger credit line.

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase made with your card, redeemable as a statement credit or check
  • Access credit lines from $500 to $25,000
  • Pay $25 annual fee

Although this card charges a small annual fee, it does offer purchase rewards in the form of unlimited 1.5% cash back on every card purchase. At that rate, spending around $1,700 a year would make up for the annual fee.

(The information related to Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card has been collected by CardRates.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.)

BBVA Secured Visa® Business Credit Card

The BBVA Secured Visa® Business Credit Card is a secured card that requires a deposit to open and maintain. The minimum deposit amount is $500 and the credit line that you receive will be equal to 90% of the deposit amount.

BBVA Secured Visa® Business Credit Card

  • Earn bonus points in categories you select, including office supplies, utilities, and travel
  • Earn 1X point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Pay no annual fee the first year, then $40

This card provides cardholders with their choice of bonus rewards category, plus an unlimited 1X point per dollar on all other purchases. The card is only open to residents of Alabama, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, California, and New Mexico.

2. Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) & Business Bank Account

So far as the government is concerned, most businesses exist as distinct financial entities — particularly when it comes to paying taxes. This means one of the first things you’ll typically need to do when setting up your business finances is to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.

Essentially, an EIN is the business equivalent of a Social Security number. Your business’s financial operations, including tax information and credit history, will be associated with its EIN, and that is how vendors and business lenders will look up information about your business.

You can apply for an EIN easily online through the IRS website, as well as by fax or traditional mail. You’ll need to supply some basic information about yourself and your business, including providing your personal Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

You should receive your EIN shortly after submitting your online application (other application methods will take longer). Once you’ve obtained an EIN, you can then apply for and open a business bank account. You’ll need both the EIN and a business checking or savings account to apply for most business credit cards.

3. Fill Out an Online Application

When you’ve set up the appropriate business accounts and have found your ideal business credit card, all you need to do is head to the issuer’s website to apply for the card online. Most applications will take only a few minutes to fill out so long as you have the necessary information on hand.

Most business credit card applications will require you to provide your:

  • Legal business name
  • Business phone number
  • Business mailing address
  • Business type/classification
  • EIN/Tax ID number
  • Number of employees
  • Annual business revenue/sales
  • Years in business
  • Business industry/category

Although it’s obviously better if your company has a good revenue to report, you don’t necessarily need to show a net profit for the year — or any kind of revenue at all. Credit card issuers know that businesses often take time to make money, and a low or nonexistent positive revenue amount won’t immediately disqualify you from all business cards. (In other words, don’t lie about your company’s income.)

In addition to information about your business, most small business credit cards will also require you to provide personal information. The reason for this is twofold, starting with the fact that the typical business credit card’s terms and conditions will include a personal guarantee clause that means you’re personally responsible for paying the balance on the credit card — even if your business fails.

Because of this clause, your consumer credit will be checked as a part of the application process, which will generally result in a hard credit inquiry on your personal credit report. If you have poor personal credit, you can be denied a business credit card.

The personal information you’ll typically need to provide can include:

  • Your title in the company
  • Your full name
  • Your email address
  • Your date of birth
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your annual income

When you submit your online application, the issuer’s decision algorithm will evaluate your application. Unless the bank needs to verify some information or the algorithm deems a human evaluation necessary, you should receive a decision about your application within a few minutes of submitting it online.

Who Can Apply for a Credit Card?

Most of the pertinent laws about who can apply for a credit card are laid out in the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act Of 2009, known as the CARD Act. Specifically, the CARD Act describes the rules for the issuance of credit cards to young people as well as setting the foundation for income requirements.

So far as age goes, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old to qualify for a credit card account solely under your own name. If you need a credit card before the age of 18, you’ll need to be made an authorized user on someone else’s account.

Credit Card Requirements Graphic

Furthermore, though you can technically qualify for your own card at 18, if you’re under the age of 21, you’ll need to jump through another hoop. Consumers under 21 will also need to have an independent income that can be verified or a qualified cosigner with good credit over the age of 21.

No matter what age you are, you’ll need to show some sort of income — or a cosigner with income — to apply for a personal credit card. Not only does the law require that issuers ensure you can afford the debt payments for any credit line they issue, but it’s also in the issuer’s best interest to make sure you can make payments, too.

Business credit cards typically aren’t subject to CARD Act regulations, but you’ll still need to be at least of legal age — i.e., at least 18 — to apply for a business credit card. And while many business card issuers may overlook a low reported revenue for a business just starting out, you’ll likely need to show you have a personal income or some form of capital to qualify.

The other general requirements for applying for a credit card of any type will include an active personal or business checking account and a valid Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). And, of course, most businesses will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to apply for a business card.

In some cases, the SSN/ITIN requirement can be waived for personal credit cards, though this occurs primarily with starter cards aimed at foreign students studying at a U.S. educational institution.

Can You Get a Credit Card with No Credit?

Although most Americans have a consumer credit profile, none of us are born with one. In general, your consumer credit profile isn’t established until you open your first credit line and that credit line is reported to at least one of the three major consumer credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Since we all start out with no credit, many banks have developed products specifically designed for consumers who need to establish their credit, including a variety of credit cards for first-timers that have no minimum credit history requirements.

If you are a student looking to build credit, student credit cards can be a great option (when used responsibly, of course). Student cards rarely charge annual fees, and many of them will also come with purchase rewards and extra student-centric perks.

For non-student credit-builders, secured credit cards will generally be the easiest cards to get, and many secured cards can be found that won’t charge an annual fee. You can even find some decent secured cards that come with purchase rewards and a few that let you earn interest on your deposit.

A few major banks will offer unsecured starter cards for consumers with no credit, though most will be pretty bare-bones. Your local credit union can also be a good place to check out offers for an unsecured starter card, and credit union cards often have the lowest interest rates and fees.

What’s the Easiest Card to Get with Bad Credit?

Having bad credit can impact many aspects of your life, from getting an apartment to setting up utilities to applying for credit. Even credit cards, arguably the easiest type of credit to get, can be hard to find if your credit history is poor.

That being said, you can get a credit card with bad credit — you just have to be a bit flexible. Most credit cards that are easy to get with bad credit will either have a lot of restrictions, require a deposit, or have high fees — or some combination thereof.

Secured credit cards are going to be the easiest to get of all the options for most consumers thanks to the security deposit that eliminates much of the risk for issuers. Some secured cards can be obtained without paying an annual fee, most will offer a grace period on interest fees, and some may also have rewards.

Unsecured vs Secured Credit Cards

The deposit you make for a secured card is completely refundable when you close your account with a $0 balance, unlike the fees charged by subprime unsecured cards. Additionally, some secured cards can be upgraded to an unsecured product when your credit improves.

If you really want an unsecured card, the options will typically be either a closed-loop store credit card (i.e., a credit card that can only be used in a specific store) or a subprime card. Subprime credit cards are notoriously expensive, and most will charge high annual fees as well as often charging extra processing or maintenance fees.

You’re Just an Application Away

One of the more nonsensical things about the American education system is that few practical skills are actually taught in our schools — skills like how to open and responsibly use a credit card account. But even though most of us don’t learn these important skills in the classroom, it’s still important that we pick them up somewhere.

On the bright side, credit cards aren’t particularly complicated to learn. Online applications mean applying for a credit card is remarkably easy, and online resources can make it just as easy to learn the best ways to use your new credit card to build and maintain a positive credit history.

The most important rule is to always, always, always pay on time. While this ideally means paying in full, you must at the very least make the minimum payment each month before the due date.