Can You Get Credit Card Approval with No Job?

These days, there are more credit cards than ever and more people with credit cards than ever. Popularity isn’t always the be-all-end-all, but it’s pretty obvious that a credit card is a valuable financial tool, offering convenience, security, and opportunities to build credit.

There are all different types of credit cards: cashback cards, points cards, secured cards, prepaid cards – the list goes on and on. It can be overwhelming trying to figure all this stuff out, especially with all the terms you have to understand. Pop quiz: what’s the difference between a balance transfer APR and purchase APR?!

Getting a credit card without a job or without a traditional job can add another layer of difficulty. Many credit card issuers require applicants to have a steady income to qualify. But fear not—there are strategies and alternatives available for those without employment who want to get a credit card and build their credit responsibly.

Understanding the Challenge

Before diving into solutions, it’s important to understand why credit card issuers typically require applicants to have a source of income.

Income is a crucial factor in determining an individual’s ability to repay debt. Without a “steady” income, credit card companies may view you as being at higher risk of missing monthly payments. So, you might have to be creative when showing that you are creditworthy.

It can be a real challenge to build credit, especially if you’ve recently lost your job, but it’s not impossible. See for yourself how Marquita, who lost her job during the pandemic, was able to build her credit up over time using her Kikoff Credit Account.

“After the pandemic, my life was a mess all over again. It was like I had to start all over again. I was laid off my job”

Apart from income, credit card companies look at an applicant’s debt-to-income ratio (how much you owe vs how much you make), which is a big factor along with your credit history and payment history.

These things tell credit card companies about your ability to make payments and predicting how you will handle and manage any new credit lines.

Exploring Alternatives and Strategies

No Job = No Credit Card? Not necessarily

1. Consider Different Income Sources

Importantly, unemployment does not automatically stop you from credit card approval, especially if you have alternative sources of income. While you may not have a salaried job at the moment, there are other sources of income that could qualify you for a credit card. Credit card issuers consider “non-wage” income too, which is essentially any money that you have coming in other than your salary at a full-time job.

If you receive regular income from contract or freelance work, government benefits (such as unemployment benefits), or social security payments, you can include these as part of your total income when applying for a credit card.

Social security payments are a great place to start for applicants who are older. Regardless of your age, always be prepared to provide the supporting documents for these income sources.

2. Apply for a Secured Credit Card with a Credit Limit You Can Manage

A secured credit card can be an excellent option for those with limited or no income. Unlike traditional credit cards, secured cards require a cash deposit as collateral to start things off, which typically becomes your credit limit. This deposit reduces the risk for the credit card issuer, making it easier to qualify even without a job.

Secured cards still report to credit bureaus, allowing you to build credit history over time. Some secured cards can serve as a stepping stone to “unsecured” credit cards, increasing your credit limit over time and offering the opportunity to transition to unsecured cards based on positive payment history, which helps you build a robust credit profile.

Kikoff offers a couple great ways to build credit safely, quickly, and easily. 

  1. The Kikoff Credit Account lets you build up a good payment history.
  2. Our Secured Credit Card works like a checking account and debit card. You set the credit limit of the card with an initial deposit, so you never have to worry about overspending or due dates.

Designed to be affordable and accessible, Kikoff can help you improve your credit – starting at just $5 a month.

Combining her grit and consistency with the credit building power of Kikoff, Marquita says she was able to take control of her credit and “get [her] life back.”

Every week, I was logging onto my phone, logging into Kikoff, checking my credit, which was just fun to do because it was just exciting to see, “Okay, how many points did I get this week? Okay, how many points did I get this month?

3. Get a Co-Signer

Another strategy is to apply for a credit card with a co-signer who has a stable income and good credit history, or consider applying for a joint credit card account.

In a joint account, both potential cardholders undergo a credit check and have their incomes considered together, which can increase the chances of approval.

The co-signer or joint account holder agrees to be responsible for the debt if you cannot make payments.

This arrangement provides added assurance to credit card companies but comes with shared responsibility for payments and missed payments, highlighting the importance of approaching both co-signing and joint credit card accounts with caution.

Make sure you keep the differences between a co-signer and an authorized user straight! They might sound the same, but a co-signer and an authorized user have different responsibilities. A cosigner has more responsibility and has to pay monthly on the card. An authorized user is added to the credit card account and has permission to use someone else’s credit card, but that person is in charge of paying the bill every month.

4. Build Credit with a Student Credit Card, No Job Required

Most banks have a type of credit card geared towards college students, people who, overall, are less likely to be employed or have much of any income, if any at all.

This type of card generally has lower fees, a rewards program that makes sense for students, and are typically easier to get approved for. If you are enrolled in any type of college (undergraduate or community), you may want to look into a student card.

5. Explore Prepaid Cards

Although not technically credit cards, prepaid cards can offer similar benefits, such as convenience and security.

Prepaid cards are loaded with money ahead of time, and you can use them for purchases the same way you’d use a credit card. Since there’s no actual credit extended to you, approval typically depends on verifying your identity rather than your income.

Prepaid cards can be a stepping stone to managing finances before applying for a traditional credit card.

Tips for Responsible Credit Card Use

Regardless of you navigate getting a credit card without a job, using it responsibly once you have it is essential for maintaining financial health:

  • Pay on Time: Always make at least the minimum payment by the due date to avoid late fees and negative impact to your credit report.
  • Keep Balances Low: Try to use only a small amount of your available credit. This strategy shows your responsible borrowing behavior. Managing credit card debt wisely is crucial to avoid financial strain, especially if you’re in between jobs, since it helps prevent high-interest debt from building up.
  • Monitor Your Credit: Regularly check your credit report for accuracy and any signs of identity theft.
  • Budget Wisely: Create a budget to manage your spending and make sure you can comfortably afford your credit card payments.

“Just knowing what to do is key”

Conclusion

Getting approved for a credit card without a job requires some creativity, diligence, and gaining a solid understanding of credit. While it may be more challenging, it’s not impossible.

By exploring alternative income sources, considering secured, co-signed, and prepaid cards, as well as building responsible credit habits, you can build or start a positive credit history and access the benefits of having a credit card.

“I just leaned in and just went for it.”

While Kikoff is a super important tool and does the heavy lifting of credit building, you should always focus on the things you can control when it comes to credit health.

Remember, the goal is not just to obtain credit but to use it wisely to enhance your financial well-being over time.