Why Is It So Difficult To Get A Credit Card To Build Credit? Insider Insights

Establishing a good credit history is crucial for achieving financial stability and unlocking various opportunities, such as securing loans for major purchases or renting an apartment. 

One of the most common ways to build credit is by obtaining a credit card. However, for many individuals, especially those with little or no credit history, it can be surprisingly challenging to get approved for a credit card. 

In this article, we delve into the reasons behind this difficulty and provide insights from industry experts to shed light on the process.

Lack of Credit History

One of the primary reasons people find it difficult to obtain a credit card to build credit is the catch-22 situation they face. To get a credit card, you typically need a credit history, but you need a credit card to start building that history. 

This lack of credit history makes you a risky candidate in the eyes of credit card issuers who rely on past financial behavior to gauge creditworthiness.

Insider Insight: Brian Anderson, a financial advisor, explains, “Credit card companies want to see a track record of responsible borrowing and repayments. Without this history, they may hesitate to approve your application.”

Limited or Low Income

Your income plays a significant role in determining whether you qualify for a credit card. Credit card issuers assess your ability to repay any debt you accumulate on the card. If you have a low income or no income at all, it can be challenging to convince them that you can manage a credit card responsibly.

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Insider Insight: Sarah Johnson, a credit counselor, notes, “Having a steady income is crucial for credit card approval. If you’re earning too little or have inconsistent income, it might be challenging to secure a credit card.”

High Debt-to-Income Ratio

Even if you have a reasonable income, a high debt-to-income ratio can work against you when applying for a credit card. Creditors are wary of individuals who already have significant outstanding debt relative to their income. This is because they fear that taking on more debt might lead to financial strain and default.

Insider Insight: John Miller, a former credit card industry executive, explains, “Banks are cautious about extending credit to individuals with a high debt-to-income ratio. They want to ensure that you can handle additional credit responsibly.”

Limited or Poor Credit Score

While it’s common knowledge that a good credit score is essential for credit card approval, those looking to build credit often start with a low or nonexistent score. 

This presents a significant hurdle when trying to secure a credit card, as many traditional credit card issuers have strict minimum credit score requirements.

Insider Insight: Jennifer Martinez, a credit expert, advises, “Start with secured credit cards or look for credit-building products from credit unions or fintech companies. These options are often more lenient when it comes to credit score requirements.”

Negative Marks on Credit Report

If you have past delinquencies, defaults, or bankruptcies on your credit report, it can be challenging to get approved for a credit card. These negative marks signal to lenders that you may pose a higher risk of defaulting on your payments.

Insider Insight: David Carter, a credit report specialist, says, “Negative marks on your credit report can stay there for years, making it difficult to obtain new credit. Consider credit repair strategies to improve your creditworthiness.”

Lack of Collateral

Secured credit cards, which require a security deposit as collateral, can be an excellent option for individuals with poor or no credit history. However, not everyone has the funds available for a substantial deposit, making it challenging to access this credit-building tool.

Insider Insight: Maria Garcia, a personal finance educator, suggests, “If you’re struggling to come up with a deposit for a secured card, start saving gradually. Even small deposits can help you establish credit.”


Building credit through a credit card can be a challenging journey, especially if you lack credit history, have a low income, or face other financial obstacles. 

However, understanding the factors that make it difficult to get a credit card can help you make informed decisions and take proactive steps to improve your creditworthiness. 

Start with small, manageable credit-building options, and over time, you can build a strong credit history that opens up a world of financial possibilities.