The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Friday, September 30, 2022

Credit Cards That Don’t Do a Hard Pull in 2022

Credit Cards That Dont Do A Hard Pull

credit card advice

Eric Bank

Written by: Eric Bank

Eric Bank

Eric Bank has been covering business and financial topics since 1985, specializing in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences. In addition to his work on CardRates.com, Eric has appeared regularly on Credible.com, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Get.com, Zacks, Chron and dozens of other outlets. A former software engineer, Eric holds an M.B.A. from New York University and an M.S. in finance from DePaul University.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida. Today, she edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Reviewed by: Ashley Dull

Ashley Dull

With more than a decade of experience as a content manager and marketer, Ashley has specialized in finance coverage since 2015. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media campaigns. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among others.

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Advertiser Disclosure

I recently spoke to a friend’s son about credit cards that don’t do a hard pull. The young lad was a little depressed after experiencing several credit card rejections, but he cheered up when he learned about credit cards that don’t require a credit check. 

He was happy to plunk down a $200 deposit and now has a secured credit card. His father was grateful — I think.

If you have bad or limited credit, a card that doesn’t require a credit check can get you into the game. Use it responsibly, and you’ll be stepping up to more rewarding cards before you know it.

Two Credit Cards That Don’t Check Your Credit

These two secured cards require only a small deposit to overcome most obstacles (including bad, no, or limited credit) preventing you from owning a credit card. They are almost as easy to get as a prepaid card (although a prepaid card doesn’t offer credit). 

Both cards strongly emphasize their commitment to helping cardowners build credit (or rebuild credit) at an accelerated pace. Their refundable deposits are a small price of admission that can help you attain a good credit score when you use the cards responsibly. Either just may be the best secured credit card for you.

1. Secured Sable ONE Credit Card

This card is currently not available.

Bad Credit Rating

★★★★★

N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

The Secured Sable ONE Credit Card is unique in that it has no set minimum deposit requirement. You get rewards on eligible purchases and premium benefits, all without a credit check. This cash rewards credit card may refund your deposit in as little as four months. It is a soft pull credit card and a top contender for the best secured credit card.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Capital Bank N.A.’ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.2

OVERALL RATING

  • No credit check to apply and find out instantly if you are approved
  • OpenSky gives everyone an opportunity to improve their credit with an 85% average approval rate for the past 5 years
  • Get considered for a credit line increase after 6 months, with no additional deposit required
  • You could be eligible for the OpenSky Gold Unsecured Card after as few as 6 months
  • Reports to all 3 major credit bureaus monthly, unlike a prepaid or debit card
  • View your FICO® Score through your OpenSky account, an easy way to stay on top of your credit
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.89% (variable)
$35
Poor

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card will let you earn a higher credit limit or graduate to an unsecured card in as few as six months. This no-credit-check Visa credit card offers low interest rates and fees, fraud protection, and email alerts. It only takes four short steps to apply for this soft pull credit card, and you can set your credit limit anywhere between $200 and $3,000, subject to the approval of the issuing bank, Capital Bank N.A. 

Alternative Credit Cards That Allow Prequalification

If you’d prefer to own an unsecured credit card, these half-dozen cards offer easy prequalification to folks with subprime or thin credit. Although prequalifying for a credit card offer doesn’t guarantee final approval, it won’t hurt your credit score to try. 

Because these cards are unsecured, they carry higher costs than similar secured cards for bad credit. None is a cash rewards credit card — you won’t find a good travel or business credit card in the lot, nor any student credit cards. 

Surge Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank’ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From Experian* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Initial Credit Limit of $300 – $1,000* (subject to available credit)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
See website for Details
See website for Details
24.99% – 29.99% (Variable)
See website for Details
See website for Details*

The Surge Mastercard® from Celtic Bank protects you from bogus charges with Mastercard’s Zero Liability Protection. The card comes with free Experian VantageScore tracking. You can access its mobile app to check due dates, view statements, pay bills, and verify direct deposits.

Reflex Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank’ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.4

OVERALL RATING

  • Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified with no impact to your credit score
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score from Experian* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Initial Credit Limit of $300 – $1,000* (subject to available credit)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.99% – 29.99% (Variable)
See Terms
Bad, Fair, or No Credit

The Reflex Mastercard®, also from Celtic Bank, is virtually identical to the Surge Mastercard®. It offers strong fraud protection and waives its monthly maintenance fee for the first year. The card may give you a credit limit increase if you consistently pay your bill on time. 

Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit Review

at Indigo® Mastercard®’ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.3

OVERALL RATING

  • 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

The Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit is the third entry from Celtic Bank. You can prequalify for the card instantly without damaging your credit score. The card doesn’t charge fees for initial setup, first-year cash advances, or monthly maintenance. The credit card issuer may prequalify you for a card from another bank if you do not qualify for this card.

Milestone® Mastercard® - Less Than Perfect Credit Considered Review

at Milestone Mastercard®’ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.3

OVERALL RATING

  • 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
Poor/Bad

The Bank of Missouri issues the Milestone® Mastercard® – Less Than Perfect Credit Considered and may recommend another credit card if you don’t prequalify. The card does not charge a monthly maintenance fee and waives the cash advance fee for the first year. This credit card company limits you to just one Milestone credit card at a time.

Merrick Bank Double Your Line® Mastercard® Review

at Merrick Bank’ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.3

OVERALL RATING

  • Credit lines range from $550-$1,350 which double to $1,100-$2,700 after your account qualifies. No security deposit required.
  • Double your credit line by making at least your minimum payment on time each month for the first 7 months your account is open.
  • See if you are pre-approved within minutes, without affecting your credit score.
  • Build or rebuild your credit. As you pay your bill every month, we report to all three major credit reporting agencies.
  • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free each month.
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen. Access your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Get help staying on track with available Auto Pay and account alerts.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
21.70% to 30.70% Variable
$0-$72
See website for Details*

The Merrick Bank Double Your Line® Mastercard® comes with fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen and rewards creditworthy behavior by doubling your credit limit with responsible use. Unlike some other issuers, this credit card doesn’t charge a Penalty APR when you miss a payment. You can pay your bill by check, direct deposit, phone, or online.

Destiny Mastercard® Review

at Destiny Mastercard®’ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.1

OVERALL RATING

  • All the benefits of a Mastercard, without a security deposit
  • Keeping your account in good standing may help establish and/or improve your credit history
  • Less than perfect credit is okay, even with a prior bankruptcy!
  • Prequalify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.9%
$59-$99
Poor to Good

The Destiny Mastercard® issued by First Electronic Bank has a 25-day grace period and no minimum interest charge. This card provides Mastercard Zero Fraud Liability Protection and reports to all three credit bureaus to help you build credit with responsible use.

What Is a Hard Pull?

A credit inquiry (or pull) occurs when someone requests a copy of your credit report from a major credit bureau (i.e., Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion). The bureaus keep track of these requests and classify them as hard or soft pulls.

A hard pull is a credit inquiry you authorize creditors and lenders to make when you apply for a new account. All other pulls, including those you make for your personal report, are soft. 

Hard pulls remain on your credit reports for two years and slightly decrease your credit score for up to one year. Soft pulls do not affect your score, and only you can see them on your credit reports.

So, why do hard pulls hurt your credit while soft pulls do not? The answer lies in how your credit score is calculated. 

FICO, the dominant scoring system for consumer credit, recognizes five factors that affect scores. The FICO scoring range runs from 300 (worst credit) to 850 (perfect credit). 

The “new credit” factor accounts for 10% of your credit score and is the one that responds to hard inquiries. FICO considers each hard inquiry to be a credit application you submitted.

Hard pulls may lower your score because FICO associates too many requests for new credit (i.e., more than once every six months, more or less) with financial distress and higher default risk. 

Can You Get Approved For a Credit Card Without a Hard Inquiry?

Most credit card issuers perform a hard pull of your credit when you apply for one of their cards. But they don’t submit a hard inquiry when you attempt to prequalify for a card

The reason is simple: The credit card companies want to encourage you to get their cards and therefore provide you a consequence-free way to determine whether you qualify. They hope that you’ll take the next step and apply for their card once you prequalify, even though it may hurt your score a bit. 

What’s remarkable about the Secured Sable ONE Credit Card and the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is that they don’t perform hard inquiries on applicants.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

Other secured credit cards may also avoid hard pulls, but these two are the only cards that publicly commit to it. They save you the prequalification step and preserve your credit score. 

FICO calculates 35% of your credit score from your payment history and 30% from the amount of credit you use. Creditors and lenders that don’t do hard credit pulls usually don’t report your payments to the credit bureaus, thereby preventing your behavior from helping (or harming) your credit score. 

Remarkably, the two reviewed secured cards report your payments to all three credit bureaus even though they don’t require hard inquiries for approval.

Does Preapproved Mean No Credit Check?

Preapproval and prequalification mean the same thing, and the terms are used interchangeably by credit card companies. “No credit check” usually connotes a credit card issuer that doesn’t do a hard credit pull when you apply for a card. 

Almost all card issuers skip a credit check at the preapproval stage but then pull your credit when you apply. Only a couple are no-credit-check cards, the cards that don’t pull your credit when you apply.

In this review, the two secured credit cards are no-credit-check cards; the others aren’t.

Contrast this to the mortgage lending industry. Home shoppers seek preapproval for a set mortgage amount to better compete against other buyers. Banks and other mortgage lenders invariably do hard credit checks before they preapprove mortgages and impose an expiration date by which they convert it to a mortgage application. 

Types of Credit Inquiries

When you subsequently apply for a mortgage on the property you want, the lender may do another credit check to see if anything has changed since you were preapproved.

Do Credit Card Preapprovals Hurt Your Credit?

The point behind the preapproval process is to shield your credit score from harm as you find out whether you prequalify for a credit card. Credit card companies can preapprove consumers because doing so does not guarantee final approval. In other words, the card issuers have nothing to lose by offering the prequalification step. 

And, to the extent that successful prequalification encourages consumers to apply for the card, the issuers have a lot to gain. 

Preapproval is basically a marketing technique. It’s a way to suck potential customers into a funnel that ends with them becoming new cardmembers. Preapproval builds consumer engagement, generating leads that issuers hope will turn into sales. 

The strategy is similar to the one that issuers of student credit cards use to instill young adults with brand loyalty. 

Lest the issuers sound too cynical, consumers also benefit from credit card preapproval:

  • It can serve as a way to learn more about a credit card without committing to it. The credit card company must disclose a card’s rates and terms when attempting to prequalify, allowing you to comparison shop.
  • You may not receive preapproval, at which point you’ll know it’s futile applying for the card and can prevent a slight credit score decline. 
  • It takes money for the card companies to check credit, money they will save if they deny preapproval to unqualified consumers. This arrangement leaves more cash for the issuers to improve their cards, which generally benefits consumers.

The bottom line is that credit card preapproval serves the interests of consumers and credit card issuers alike, which is why all the best credit card issuers offer it (including American Express, Discover, and Capital One). 

Can You Get Denied After Preapproval?

As previously stated, preapproval does not guarantee final approval. When you attempt to prequalify for a credit card offer, the issuer will review your basic information, including your age and residence, without a hard credit inquiry. 

If you then apply for the card, the issuer will pull your credit (the two reviewed secured cards excepted) and receive additional information about your finances, employment, and credit history. It’s always possible that the issuer will uncover facts that cause it to deny your application. 

Can You Get Denied After Preapproval?
Yes, you can still be denied when you apply for a credit card, even after receiving preapproval.

If the issuer turns you down, it must send you an adverse action notice telling you why it denied your application and the source of the information on which it based its decision. Be smart and use the information in the notice to clean up your credit. The effort may require you to check your credit reports for errors, a task you can do yourself or farm out to a credit repair agency

If you have no luck obtaining an unsecured credit card, consider a secured card instead. These cards have easier acceptance standards since you must deposit collateral to secure your credit line. 

What Credit Score Is Required For Approval?

There is a credit card out there for just about any credit score. The two reviewed secured cards don’t check credit at all, and many secured cards have lenient approval criteria

The alternative unsecured cards in this review welcome applicants with bad credit (i.e., FICO scores below 580) and approve a fair share.

Certain issuers are willing to accept low scores because they have taken steps to mitigate financial losses from cardmember defaults. There are two basic methods at work:

  • Secured cards: Issuers can access your security deposit if you fail to pay your bill. This collateral protects them from loss if they must cancel your account. 
  • Unsecured cards for poor credit: Issuers protect themselves by collecting high fees, including a setup and annual fee (the annual fee can run as high as $99). They couple these charges with a low credit limit (as low as $200) and a high interest rate (up to 36% APR). By collecting upfront money and limiting capital at risk, these issuers can afford to take chances that larger credit card companies cannot.

The point is not to be discouraged if an issuer denies your card application. We review dozens of subprime cards each year, and one may be a perfect fit. In addition, you can take steps to improve your credit, as we describe next.

How Do I Use My Card to Rebuild Credit?

The key to building credit is responsible behavior, starting with paying your bill on time, every time. Nothing destroys credit faster than failing to pay your bills, which is often a gateway to more severe events, including default, collection, property repossession, and bankruptcy. 

Build Credit Using a Credit Card

You can also use a credit card that offers balance transfers to consolidate credit card debt instead of relying on a personal loan. Consolidation alone won’t improve your credit, but it does make it easier to pay down your debt. 

A card that offers a 0% introductory interest rate for balance transfers can cost less than a consolidation personal loan. Your credit score should improve as your credit utilization ratio (i.e., the total credit you are currently using divided by the total credit available to you) falls below 30%.

There are two other ways to use credit cards to build credit. The first is to keep old card accounts open, as FICO looks favorably on long-lived accounts. Second, refrain from opening new accounts too frequently, no more than once every six months. These two tactics are only minor contributors to your credit score but are nonetheless helpful.

Credit Cards That Don’t Do a Hard Pull Are Easy To Get

The two reviewed credit cards that don’t do a hard pull are easy to obtain. Both are secured cards that require relatively small deposits and welcome credit profiles of every stripe, from poor credit to fair credit to good credit.

You can also apply to an issuer of subprime unsecured credit cards, including the six described in this article. Although these issuers will likely pull your credit, they will also look for ways to accommodate your application. 

One way or another, most consumers can acquire a credit card, even if it is not particularly attractive. Use it to build credit, and over time, you’ll have access to better cards (from the best credit card issuers, including Citi, Chase, and Capital One) with handsome rewards and benefits.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation for referrals for many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across CardRates.com (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.