Skip to main content

How to get credit with no credit history.

It’s a bewildering loop: you want to get in the credit game to build your credit score, but you need a good score to get a credit card. Um, so how is that supposed to work?

It’s called being “credit invisible.” You could be a secret superstar when it comes to your money, but if you’re just starting out, the credit reporting agencies won’t have a payment history of how well you manage it. Even if you’ve used credit in another country and are only new to credit in Canada.

This means you won’t even have a low credit score – you’ll have no credit score at all.

So how do I get a credit card with no credit score?

Thankfully there are options for getting started with credit.

One way is with a secured credit card. With this type of card, you pay a certain amount up front, a payment known as security funds. This is another way, besides a credit score, of showing a lender that you’re good to cover your bill.

But unlike, say, a prepaid card, the way you use a secured credit card gets passed along to the credit reporting agencies, commonly known as credit bureaus. This gives you a chance to build your credit score. And, best of all, if everything goes well, you could be eligible to get a portion of your security funds back, or even have the chance to switch to an unsecured credit card, at which point your entire security fund payment would be returned to you.

If you’re in school, a student credit card might be another great way to get going. These cards typically offer lower credit limits and limited rewards, but don’t require a dazzling credit score: the idea is to get you started building your credit history. A lot of student credit cards require proof that you’re enrolled in school, which crosses this option off the list if that’s not where you’re at in life.

Think twice before you apply

What’s worse than no credit history? Bad credit history.

Credit scores range from 300 to 900, but if you’re just starting out, you won’t have a number at all. One way to get off on the wrong foot is to apply for credit cards that you’re not eligible for.

When you apply for a credit card, it impacts your credit score. That’s fine if it’s a card that you’re approved for, because you’ll build your credit as you use it. But unfortunately you usually don’t know if you’re approved for a card until after you’ve applied.

One great way around that is Quick Check®. This is a free service from Capital One that lets you know in seconds which credit card you’re pre-approved for. By knowing with 100% certainty* that you’ll be approved before you apply, you can protect your credit score (or the blank space where it will be one day).

Now start building that credit score!

Everyone has to start from somewhere when it comes to building credit. But once you’ve spent some time using credit and staying on top of your bills, you’ll be invisible no more. Your credit score will gradually start increasing and you’ll have more and more options. It just takes a little patience and practise first.

* If Quick Check pre-approves a card, you can be 100% sure we’ll approve your application as long as:

a. There’s been no change in your credit file information, personal information or financial status from the time you receive your Quick Check results to the time you apply for one of our credit cards;

b. You’re at least the age of majority in the province or territory you live in;

c. Your application isn’t flagged for fraud prevention;

d. You don’t have an existing Capital One account; and

e. You haven’t applied for a Capital One account in the last 30 days or had an account with us that was not in good standing in the last year. In good standing means not past due, over limit, fraudulent, restricted, or part of a consumer credit counselling program or bankruptcy.

In some cases, we may not be able to open an account for you even though your application was approved. This can happen if we’re unable to verify your identity, or you don’t provide the required security funds if you’re approved for a Secured Mastercard®.