The Best Soft Credit Cards of 2021

If you’re hoping to get a credit card while minimizing the impact on your credit score, subsidized credit cards may be the answer. However, credit cards that only require a soft confirmation for approval are rare, and the few available cards that fall into this category are far from the best.

However, if you’re just looking for a card that offers pre-approval or pre-qualification with a slight change to your credit report, you’ll find plenty of options to choose from. In most cases, you will also be much better off getting a temporary credit score in exchange for a card that offers the best long-term value.

If you’re wondering how soft credit cards work and whether you need to worry about a complex request, read on to find out more.

What is soft credit pull?

A soft check, also called a soft request, happens when you or someone you authorize, such as a homeowner or potential employer, checks your credit report. In some cases, these requests may be made without your permission, such as when card issuers prescreen leads for direct marketing. Although soft requests appear on your credit report, they do not negatively impact your credit score.

On the other hand, hard pulls are usually performed when you actually apply for a loan and the lender approves or rejects your application. These requests remain on your credit report for two years and temporarily lower your credit score by several points. However, they will generally not affect your score for more than a year.

What are soft credit cards?

Soft credit cards, sometimes referred to as no credit check credit cards, allow you to apply for a loan or open a new account without the hard pull. Ultimately, this is why soft credit cards can be useful if you have bad credit or a limited credit history and want to protect your account.

Soft credit cards are hard to come by and it’s nearly impossible to get an unsecured credit card without a credit check. Opting for a soft-pull credit card will almost certainly mean avoiding better rewards credit cards and using secured credit cards instead.

However, many card issuers allow you to check if you have been “pre-approved” or “pre-qualified” for a credit card offer without scrutinizing your credit report. Pre-approval does not guarantee that you will receive a card if you apply, but it does indicate that you are likely to meet the issuer’s minimum requirements.

While you can check with individual card issuers to find pre-approval options, you can also use a tool like CardMatch to search multiple card issuers that match your credit profile. Some card issuers also send out pre-screened credit card offers by mail or email, so you can keep an eye on those offers as well.

Should I get a discounted credit card?

If you want a genuine discounted credit card that doesn’t require a credit check for approval, your options will be limited to a few secured credit cards that require a cash deposit as collateral. However, you may be better off with a discounted credit card if:

  • You have no credit history.
  • A low credit score prevents you from getting approved for other cards.
  • You don’t mind making a cash deposit to start building credit.

On the other hand, if you have fair credit or a good score, you may qualify for unsecured credit cards with much better rates and terms. With that in mind, you should only get a soft card if you have no other choice.

Best Soft Draw Credit Cards

If you need to build credit or control spending, and you’re determined to avoid a hard loan request, some really soft credit cards are worth considering. Although they offer almost nothing in the form of rewards or privileges, all of these secure card options are reported to national credit bureaus and do not require a thorough investigation.

Here are some of your best (and only) soft credit card options:

OpenSky Visa Secure Credit Card: The Best Option with Low Annual Fees

While the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card does not offer any rewards or meaningful benefits to cardholders, it does allow applicants to be approved without the need for a credit check. However, a bond is required as a security deposit and cardholders must pay an annual fee of $35.

Self Visa credit card: the best option for getting a loan

The Self-Credit Builder Account with Visa® Secure Credit Card is another secure credit card that allows you to start accumulating credit over time. This card is available to self-lending loan users who have at least $100 in accumulated savings and have made payments on time for at least three months. There is no credit check when applying, but cardholders must pay a $25 annual fee, which is deducted from their savings balance and credit limit.

First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard Secure Credit Card: Best for Low APRs

The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secure Credit Card is another soft card that doesn’t require a credit check and the security deposit starts at just $200. However, it does not have any perks and the annual fee is $49.

Bank-secured Visa Gold Preferred Credit Card: Best for high credit limit

Check out the Applied Bank-secured Visa® Gold Preferred® credit card that allows you to get approved within 60 seconds without a credit check. This card also has a low fixed interest rate of 9.99%, with no application fees and no penalty rates if you pay your bill late. The annual fee for this card is $48 and you will need a minimum deposit of at least $200 to get started.

Capital on Tap Business Credit Card: Best for Small Business Owners

Finally, the Capital on Tap Business credit card is a solid choice for business owners who want a flat rate cashback reward with no annual fee (and the option of a very high credit limit). You can apply and receive an approval response within 48 hours, and most applicants receive a response within 24 hours. In terms of rewards, you’ll earn 1.5% cashback on all purchases and can earn a $1,200 signup bonus by spending $50,000 in the first six months (and making one free additional card transaction).

Should You Buy Soft Credit Cards?

While the credit hit prevention that comes with a hard request is a good benefit, it is far outweighed by the limitations of soft request credit cards. They may allow you to be more liberal with your card applications, but the small number of cards you can only get with soft credit tend to be secure ones that incur fees or other less-than-ideal limits.

If you need to build credit, you can find many secured cards that charge no annual fees, earn cash rewards, and even upgrade to unsecured cards when used responsibly. Your score may drop a few points temporarily when you apply for these cards, but they should be more valuable in the long run.

If you have already considered a card and it only requires a soft credit request, all the better. But in most cases, it doesn’t make sense to go all out looking for a soft card. Instead, stick to soft-sell credit card pre-approval and only apply for cards that best suit your financial needs and credit profile.

Remember: in the world of credit cards, hard pulls are just entry fees.

bottom line

Several card options are available if you want to avoid a hard draw, but they can be useful if you have bad credit or a limited credit history and want to protect your account.

Options only available with a concessional credit pool are usually secure cards. As their name suggests, secure cards require collateral and will be most useful if you need to build credit or want to control your spending.

Editorial disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective judgment of our contributors and is not based on advertising. It was not provided or ordered by credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to our partners’ products.

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