Can I get a credit card if I don’t have any credit or a job?

The answer is complicated. Trying to get credit without having credit is a catch-22, because you need credit to build credit. Fortunately, there are some loopholes to this situation.

For one, you can build credit by getting a secured credit card from your bank or credit union. The different between a secured card versus a traditional credit card is that you must deposit money in a savings account before using the credit card. Therefore, any spending you do with the card is “secured” by the money you deposited. Keep in mind a secured credit card is different than prepaid debit card; you can’t build credit with a prepaid debit card, but you can with a secured credit card.

If you’re still curious how to obtain credit without having it or a job, here are two resources that can help guide you in the right direction: “Build Credit – Learn How to Establish a Solid Credit History” and “How to Establish Credit.”

An important law that dictates whether or not you can get a credit card is the Credit Card Act of 2009. This law states that if you’re under the age of 21, you cannot get a credit card unless you have a cosigner or proof of your ability to repay the lender. A secured credit card is also a good way to establish credit if you’re under 21 since it shows you have the ability to pay up to the amount that is deposited in the savings account associated with the secured credit card.

Written by Alex Ziskind and Andrea Pellegrini, University of Illinois USFSCO Student Money Management Center