18 Best Low-Limit Credit Cards in 2019

18 Best Low-Limit Credit Cards in 2019

credit card advice

Matt Walker
By: Matt Walker
Updated: September 4, 2019
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Our articles follow strict editorial guidelines and are updated regularly.

When it comes to credit cards, bigger isn’t always better. While some consumers may look for flashy cards with bells, whistles, and sky-high credit limits, others may prefer to throttle temptation by maintaining a lower credit limit.

With a low-limit credit card, you can rest assured that you’ll have access to credit in case of emergency or necessity (such as when you want to rent a car), but you won’t have the temptation of over-spending yourself into debt.

Best Overall | Bad Credit | No Credit | Student | Secured | Prepaid | FAQs

Best Overall Low-Limit Credit Cards

Some of our top choices for low-limit credit cards may require a good credit score or better. Your credit rating will often determine your initial credit limit, but if you want to keep your spending levels low, you can contact the issuer to request a lower limit after you’re approved.

This request is one of the many credit cardholder’s rights that you have, but may not know about. You can also deny future credit limit increases to keep your limit the same for as long as you like.

1. Discover it® Cash Back — $300+ Credit Limit

The Discover it® Cash Back card provides one of the top cash back programs in the credit card space, with 5% back on quarterly categories and 1% on all other purchases.

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
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

Discover also matches all the cash back you earn by the end of your first year. Credit limits on this card typically start around $2,000, but some cardholders report starting with a credit limit between $300 and $500.

2. Discover it® Miles — $1,000+ Credit Limit

With the Discover it® Miles card, you can earn cash back in the form of travel reimbursements that make it easier, and cheaper, to visit the places you’ve always dreamed of.
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

Like it’s Cash Back card sibling, the Miles card also matches all of the travel miles you earn in your first year. Unlike the Cash Back card, the starting credit limit for the Miles offering is a tad higher, with a minimum credit limit of $1,000.

3. Chase Freedom Unlimited® — $500+ Credit Limit

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you have access to Chase Ultimate Rewards, one of the most robust rewards programs in the credit card space. This card has slightly higher acceptance standards, but initial credit limits can be low. Some reviewers report starting off with a spending limit of $500.

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • New Offer! Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that 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 16.99-25.74%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
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
16.99% - 25.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

Be sure to examine the perks associated with each card before you decide which offer you want to apply for. While cash back or travel points may sound nice on the surface, you may end up paying for those benefits through higher interest rates or annual fees.

You can find all of the terms associated with each card in the credit card disclosure statement on each issuer’s website. Most issuers include these statements on the application page.

Best Low-Limit Credit Cards for Bad Credit

If your credit isn’t as strong as you want it to be, a good low-limit credit card could be your ticket to improvement. By keeping your balances low and always paying your bill before it’s due, you could see gradual increases in your credit score — which can improve the type of credit you’re offered in the future.

Depending on how low your credit score is, you may find that a secured credit card is your best option. While these cards require a refundable security deposit to open your account, you can set your own credit limit based on your deposit amount.

4. Capital One® Secured Mastercard® — $200 Credit Limit

With the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, you don’t have to worry about your credit limit — because every approved cardholder starts with a $200 spending cap.

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
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

While most secured credit cards require a refundable security deposit that matches your credit limit, Capital One has a variable deposit policy that’s based on your credit score. Depending on your credit profile, Capital One will require a $49, $99, or $200 deposit.

5. Fingerhut Credit Account — $200+ Credit Limit

Many reviews of the Fingerhut Credit Account detail starting credit limits in the $200 range, though some report limits of more than $1,000.

Fingerhut Credit Account Review

at Fingerhut'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
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
  • Take advantage of low monthly payments if you apply and are accepted for a Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank, who determines eligibility and qualifications for the terms of credit
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Issuers Website
$0
Poor Credit

This credit account isn’t a traditional credit card. Instead, you use the account to purchase name-brand merchandise from Fingerhut and its retail partners. Minimum purchases on the account start at $50 and include affordable monthly payments.

6. Total Visa® Card — $300 Credit Limit

Every new Total Visa® Card comes with a $300 spending limit, regardless of your credit history. This is an unsecured card, meaning there is no deposit required for activation. You will, though, have to pay a $75 annual fee at activation, which immediately drops your spending limit to $225 until you pay for the charge.

Total Visa® Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.5
OVERALL RATING
3.5/5.0
  • Checking Account Required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • A genuine Visa credit card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
  • Manageable monthly payments
  • If approved, simply pay a Program Fee to open your account and access your available credit
  • Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Terms
See Terms
Fair, Bad Credit

While low-limit credit cards can reduce your temptation to spend, some cards designed for consumers who have bad credit may include annual fees, setup fees, and other charges. The issuer charges these fees to your new card as soon as you activate it, which can lower your initial available balance until you pay them off.

Best Low-Limit Credit Cards for No/Limited Credit

Most low-limit credit cards are perfect for people who are new to the credit game and don’t have enough history to generate a credit score. A card with a low limit allows you to get your feet wet using credit, and accumulate enough payment history to establish a credit score.

You may even find some valuable perks, including cash back or premium security features, when browsing our top choices below.

7. Capital One® Platinum Credit Card — $300+ Credit Limit

With the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card, you will start with at least a $300 credit limit, but you can possibly increase your limits after your first five on-time payments.

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
26.96% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

Capital One requires all applicants to have limited credit — at the very least — to be eligible for approval for this entry-level card.

8. Discover it® Student Cash Back — $500+ Credit Limit

Students who qualify for the Discover it® Student Cash Back can receive a minimum credit limit of $500 and a host of perks that you can only find with Discover. These include a $20 statement credit for each year that you earn a GPA of 3.0 or better (for up to five years).

Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
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
14.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit

You’ll earn up to 5% cash back on purchases in specific quarterly categories and get 1% back on all other purchases. Discover will also match all of your cash back earnings accrued before your one-year card anniversary.

9. Discover it® Student chrome — $500+ Credit Limit

Much like its Cash Back sibling, the Discover it® Student chrome starts with a minimum $500 spending limit. This card also features a cash back component, with 2% back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. You’ll also earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases — with Discover matching all of the cash back earned in your first year with the card.

Discover it® Student chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.6
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • 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 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 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
14.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit

When shopping for a credit card, remember that there’s a big difference between having no or limited credit and having bad credit. When you have no credit, you’re essentially credit invisible — meaning that you don’t have enough traceable credit transactions on record to generate a credit score. Consumers who have bad credit may have a history of late payments, defaults, or other missteps that make obtaining a credit card difficult.

Best Low-Limit Credit Cards for Students

College is the perfect time to start establishing a credit history. With a good low-limit student credit card, like those listed below, you can maintain access to credit while avoiding the temptation to overspend. Plus, maintaining a low limit means that you won’t carry debt beyond graduation and into your first job.

10. Discover it® Student Cash Back — $500+ Credit Limit

The Discover it® Student Cash Back starts with a minimum credit limit of $500 and features a good grades bonus and up to 5% cash back on all of your purchases.

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
14.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit

Discover matches all of your cash back earnings accrued before your one-year card anniversary. Your account also transfers over to a traditional Discover card after graduation, which allows you to keep your cash back earnings.

11. Discover it® Student chrome — $500+ Credit Limit

The Discover it® Student chrome also starts with a minimum $500 credit limit. Although the card doesn’t have “Cash Back” in the name, you’ll still earn up to 2% back on every purchase made with the card.

Discover it® Student chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • 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 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 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
14.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit

With this card in your wallet, you’ll also receive the added benefit of Discover matching your cash back earned during your first 12 months as a cardholder.

12. Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® — $300+ Credit Limit

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® features no annual fee and offers credit limits as low as $300. The card has a two-part cash back program, with 1% coming to you after your purchase and another 0.25% added after you make an on-time payment.

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
26.96% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

Although lenders consider some debt as “good debt,” you don’t want to start accruing bills before you can afford to pay them off. That means keeping your spending low while you’re in school with the expectation that you’ll improve your financial outlook once you enter the workforce.

Best Secured Low-Limit Credit Cards

In many ways, secured credit cards are the ultimate low-limit credit cards. That’s because you determine your credit limit based on the refundable security deposit you make. There are several secured cards that can accommodate your needs, whether you want a limit of $200 or $2,000.

Some cards won’t even require a credit check for approval, which helps if your credit score isn’t the greatest, but you’re determined to improve it.

13. Capital One® Secured Mastercard® — $200 Credit Limit

If you’re approved for the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, you’ll start with a $200 spending limit after paying a refundable security deposit of either $49, $99, or $200 — depending on your credit history.

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.9
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

Capital One considers all cardholders for credit line increases — though you can reject an increase if you want to — after five months of on-time payments. Spending limit increases won’t require an additional deposit.

14. Discover it® Secured — $200+ Credit Limit

Like all secured credit cards, the Discover it® Secured card requires a refundable security deposit for approval, with your deposit amount matching your spending limit.

Discover it® Secured Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.5
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
24.99% Variable
$0
New/Rebuilding

The lowest deposit Discover accepts for this card is $200, which makes it a good choice for a low-limit secured card — especially when you consider the ability to earn up to 2% cash back on every purchase you make.

15. OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card — $200+ Credit Limit

Like many secured credit cards, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card requires a minimum security deposit of $200 for approval. You can pay more, though, if you’re looking for a higher spending limit. But if you want a card that helps you stick to your budget and doesn’t offer the temptation to spend, this might be a good option for you.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Capital Bank'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★
4.0
OVERALL RATING
2.9/5.0
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search "OpenSky Card" in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.64% (variable)
$35
No credit check

Keep in mind that your security deposit will be refunded when you close your account, as long as the account remains in good standing with no outstanding balance. If you cancel your card while you have a balance, the issuer may deduct the money you owe from your deposit before refunding any remaining funds.

Best Prepaid Low-Limit Credit Cards

Prepaid credit cards don’t act like traditional credit cards. That’s because these cards only allow you to spend whatever funds you pre-load on them. Once you spend the money, you won’t be able to charge anything further until you load more funds onto the card.

That’s different from a secured card, which provides a revolving credit line that allows you to use the credit again once you’ve paid it off.

16. Pink Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card — Self-Determined Limit

Since the Pink Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card isn’t a credit card, you won’t actually receive a spending limit. Instead, the card limits your spending power to whatever cash balance you have deposited into your card’s linked account.

Pink Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
3.5/5.0
  • With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • Use the Netspend Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Get your tax refund direct deposited to your account and no more waiting in line to cash your check!
  • Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted. "Apply Now" for full details.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fee
No credit check

Netspend doesn’t have a minimum account balance, but it can charge some pretty hefty fees — so be aware of what you can (and can’t) do for free to avoid draining your balance.

17. Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card — Self-Determined Limit

Like its sibling card listed above, the Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card doesn’t require a minimum balance, which means you can only spend the money you have loaded onto the card.

Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
3.6/5.0
  • With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • Use the Netspend Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Get your tax refund direct deposited to your account and no more waiting in line to cash your check!
  • Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted. "Apply Now" for full details.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Up-to $9.95 monthly
No Credit Check

Netspend doesn’t require a credit check for approval, but since this isn’t technically a credit card, it won’t help you improve your credit score, either.

18. Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard® — Self-Determined Limit

The Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard® does not have a minimum balance requirement, but it oddly states a maximum $15,000 balance for the card. If you have that much money loaded on your card, you’re likely best served putting it into an account that will earn you interest — such as a savings, checking or certificate of deposit (CD) account.

Brink

at Netspend'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
3.7/5.0
  • Brink’s gives you the peace of mind you deserve. Securing cash and valuables since 1859.
  • With Brink’s Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • Use the Brink’s Money Prepaid Mobile App to manage your Card Account on the go and enroll to get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply.)
  • Subject to card activation and ID verification. Terms and Costs Apply. Issued by Axos Bank®, Member FDIC. Click for full details.
  • See additional Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard® Details.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fees
No credit check

Some prepaid cards function like debit cards, which won’t help you if you’re looking to improve your credit score. You should make certain that you understand how any card you apply for works, and make sure that it meets your needs and can help you reach your goals.

What is the Lowest Credit Limit?

This depends greatly on the type of credit card you apply for.

Most consumers find the lowest credit limits on secured and retail store credit cards. Your initial security deposit will determine the limit on most secured cards. These cards work if you want to keep your limits low because you decide your limit without any bank input.

But that also means that you have to place a refundable security deposit to get your card. That can defeat the purpose of obtaining credit for some consumers. If you’re a regular shopper at a specific retail store or chain, you can often find low-limits on store-branded cards.

Hand Holding Credit Card

Secured and store cards usually come with the lowest credit limits.

That’s because many retailers don’t want to take on the risk associated with issuing higher limits. These cards also often feature higher interest rates and fewer perks, so keep that in mind if you tend to carry a balance from month to month or if you’re looking for cash back or other benefits.

If your credit score isn’t a factor, the best way for you to obtain a low-limit credit card may be to work backwards — that means getting the card that you want and then lowering the limit afterward.

Banks determine credit card limits based on your credit score and submitted income information. Very few card issuers allow you to request a specific initial credit limit, but you can adjust it after approval.

For most cards, that means a simple call to the bank or issuing company to request a lower limit once your card arrives. Most credit limit adjustments will take effect immediately.

While this tactic may work to limit your spending temptation, it could have an impact on your credit score. Approximately 30% of your credit score relies on your current credit utilization. You can calculate your utilization by dividing your current balance by your overall credit limit.

For example, a card with a $1,000 limit and a $250 balance has a 25% utilization rate. When you have a high rate, banks may see you as a greater risk. Lower rates show responsibility and a habit of paying bills on time.

If you have a low-limit credit card with an overall limit of $200, a small purchase of $40 can instantly put you at 20% utilization until you pay your balance. So make sure that you pay your bills in full and on time if you maintain a low-limit credit card.

What is the Easiest Credit Card to Get?

Some secured credit cards don’t even require a credit check for approval. It can’t get much easier than that. But that means that you’ll have to place a refundable security deposit to establish your credit limit. That may not work for you.

Unsecured credit cards don’t require a deposit, but have higher standards for approval. Most card issuers don’t publish their minimum requirements for approval, which can make it difficult to decide between the dozens of cards that may interest you.

But if you use a prequalifying application, you could get a better idea of your approval chances without damaging your credit.

Woman Holding Credit Card

While some secured credit cards don’t require a credit check, they do require a refundable security deposit.

Every time you apply for any type of credit — a loan, credit card, mortgage, etc. — the lender places an inquiry to one or all three of the major credit reporting bureaus to get access to your credit file. Banks refer to these as hard inquiries.

A lender may not care if it sees one or two inquiries on your credit report. But a bank will certainly take notice as that number increases. Banks see multiple inquiries as a sign of desperation. They may think that you’ve exhausted your credit options and need more credit to stay afloat, or that several other banks have already turned you down.

Credit reporting bureaus tend to allow two or three hard inquiries in a two-year period. But after that, each inquiry lowers your credit score. The more inquiries you accrue, the bigger the hit you take.

Meanwhile, a prequalifying application initially relies on a soft inquiry. These applications look at your basic financial information to decide if you’re a good or bad candidate for their card. A prequalifying approval doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the card if you formally apply, but it does greatly improve your chances.

Once you decide to formally apply for a card, the lender will issue a hard inquiry to verify the information they have on file. But, by prequalifying, you’ve limited the number of applications you’ll need to submit, thus lowering your number of hard inquiries.

Why are My Credit Card Limits So Low?

The bank that issues your credit card dictates the size of your credit limit. To determine the amount you’ll receive, the bank will look at your credit history, current debt load, income information, and several other factors — some of which are proprietary to the banks and unknown to consumers.

A single issue with any of those factors can drastically lower your credit limit — or cause an outright application rejection. Even people with excellent credit get rejections.

You can also find yourself with a lower limit if you have no reported information related to your credit history. Banks call these consumers credit invisible — meaning that their credit history is so limited that they cannot generate a reliable credit score.

Inquisitive Man

Credit history, current debt load, income information, and other factors are all considered by issuers when determining your credit limit.

Banks see credit invisible consumers as risks because they cannot predict their repayment behavior. To mitigate those risks, a bank will often start these cardholders with a low initial credit limit.

Credit cards, like any other kind of loan, are all about risk. Banks want to lend money or extend credit to people who they think are likely to pay them back. If a lender feels you’re too much of a risk, they will likely decline your application. If you’re a medium-sized risk, they may approve you with a low limit until you prove your trustworthiness.

By providing that lower limit, they lessen their risk. After all, would you rather have someone stiff you on a $2,000 loan or a $200 loan?

But your credit limit isn’t set in stone. Once you’ve recorded five or six months of on-time payments, you can contact your issuer to ask for a credit limit increase. Some issuers do this over the phone and others have brief forms online that give an instant credit decision.

Some banks also automatically monitor accounts to see if you’re eligible for a credit limit increase. If the bank finds that you are, it will automatically boost your limit and notify you by email or letter.

Before you request a credit limit increase, make sure your balance is low and your bills are all current. Most credit card issuers allow one credit limit increase every six months, so make your attempt count.

Low-Limit Cards Can Teach You to Use Credit Responsibly

Whether you’re new to credit, looking to repair past mistakes, or are a student who wants to learn about credit, maintaining a low limit can help you reach your goals without making mistakes that you may regret later.

Just like the moral in the story of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady will win the credit race. That means keeping your credit limit — and your balance — low until you’re in a position where you can confidently increase it.

And when you do increase it, you’ll know that you have the discipline, and financial wherewithal, to keep your spending to a minimum — and your credit score to a maximum.