Can You Get a Green Credit Card Without a Bank Account?

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Photo by Emil Kalibradov on Unsplash

A 2019 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation discovered that 5.4% of American households, or about 7 million homes, did not have a bank account. 

If you’re one of these people, you may know the challenges that come with being unbanked. You may have little to no access to loans. You may also have difficulty securing credit for large purchases such as a home or a car.

Thankfully, quite a number of eco-friendly banks offer secured green credit cards to customers with no existing bank accounts. Though secured credit accounts come with low credit limits initially, you can get upgraded to a higher credit limit, or even an unsecured credit account, by making monthly payments on time and maintaining a low balance on your account. 

In this article, we explore the pros and cons of secured green credit cards. We also look at the three best providers of green credit cards for people without bank accounts. 

Key takeaways

  • Although most credit card companies are reluctant to open accounts for people with a history of bad credit, you can get what’s known as a secured credit card to quickly improve your credit score.
  • Secured credit cards require a cash deposit at account opening. This acts as collateral; whenever you’re unable to make your full monthly payment, the amount is deducted from the deposit. Replacing the deposit usually increases your credit level again.
  • Amalgamated Bank, Sunrise Banks, and City First Bank are three environmentally friendly banks that issue green credit cards to customers with no existing bank accounts. 

What type of credit card can you get without a bank account? 

Most credit card companies expect customers to have a checking or savings account.

Being an existing account holder shows credit card companies that you can be trusted to manage your money well, as most banks preemptively close accounts with continuous negative balances and high overdraft charges. It also demonstrates to banks that you are likely to make credit card payments on time using online bank transfers. 

Most banks and credit unions, in particular, tend to issue credit cards to customers who already have a savings account with them. Doing so allows them to assess a customer’s banking history before deciding to give them a credit line. These conditions can make it challenging for people without bank accounts to get credit cards.

Thankfully, some banks offer a type of credit card known as a secured credit card that you can open without a bank account. A secured credit card allows you to receive credit by making monthly payments in cash at local bank branches or by mailing a money order. 

In lieu of a bank account, secured credit cards require you to place a cash deposit as collateral. In case you cannot make your credit card payments on time, the credit card issuer deducts the outstanding payment from this deposit. As your deposit gets used, your credit line decreases as well. Placing an additional cash deposit increases your credit level again. 

Secured credit cards are ideal for people trying to rebuild their credit. A good number of green banks offer secured credit cards to customers looking for environmentally-friendly options. 

When should you consider a secured credit card? 

You should consider a secured green credit card if you want to rebuild credit fast. Secured credit cards are available to customers who have credit scores below 579 and/or a history of several late monthly payments and charge-offs. 

They’re less likely to add to your bad debt because your credit limit is determined by the cash deposit you’ve made, effectively making it a hedge against overspending. And if used sparingly, secured credit cards can improve your credit score and give you access to unsecured credit within a year or so, provided that you make the monthly payments in full every month. 

Even if you are eligible for an unsecured credit card, it may be better to go for a secured credit card at first to avoid paying unnecessary fees and accruing a credit card balance. Some unsecured credit cards may have high annual percentage rates (APR) for customers with poor credit histories. This can accumulate fast if you fail to pay off your balance in full each month. 

Although some secured credit cards may have an APR of around 20%, they come with little to no annual fees. Plus, you’re less likely to build up an outstanding balance with the low credit limits that come with secured credit cards. 

What are the pros and cons of a secured green credit card?

A secured green credit card provides a fast and safe path to more credit at a low price. But if used poorly, it could end up costing you more than if you had used your money to build up a savings deposit. Here are the pros and cons to consider before you get yourself a secured green credit card. 


Secured credit cards come with low fee charges that you can utilize to build your credit fast. Instead of losing money to exorbitantly high fees charged by unsecured credit cards, you can use that money to pay off purchases with your secured credit card. 

A consistent habit of making monthly payments can pay off quickly – several banks upgrade reliable customers to unsecured credit card accounts within 12 months and increase their credit limits. This can be a huge bonus for you if you’re trying to fix a bad credit score to get mortgage or auto loans in the future. 

Secured credit cards will also report your credit card activity to credit bureaus. As your credit score improves as a result of responsible credit card use, you may even be given an opportunity to transfer your secured line of credit to an unsecured one without needing to open a new account. 


But like almost all financial tools, secured credit cards can hurt your finances if used improperly. 

Most credit card issuers charge annual fees that range from $20 to $70 for secured credit accounts, though a handful charge no annual fees at all. The annual fees can be difficult to pay if you need that money to pay off other existing debt you may have. 

Plus, credit card companies may charge up to 20% APR on secured credit accounts to protect themselves from the risk of defaults. You’ll need to constantly keep your finances in check to ensure that you can pay off all your purchases each month. A failure to do so could result in a snowballing of high balance charges. 

For customers who need urgent credit to make expensive life purchases such as mortgages, secured credit cards might be too slow for building credit. It could take more than a year for the bank to upgrade your credit limit to a higher amount. 

3 green credit cards you can get without a bank account

There are quite a few options to choose from if you’re looking for a green credit card. City First Bank, Amalgamated Bank, and Sunrise Banks are three eco-friendly banks that issue green credit cards to customers.

City First Bank Secured Credit Card

Based in Washington D.C., City First Bank is a socially responsible commercial lender that focuses on helping small businesses and families build wealth. As a member of the Global Alliance on Banking for Values (GABV), City First has been investing heavily in sustainable neighborhood revitalization. They’ve built community facilities for health and education as well as affordable housing in inner districts.

City First Bank offers a secured credit card that comes with dozens of perks such as travel rewards and cashback. Customers get access to their FICO® Credit Score through online banking, which is regularly updated, as well as insights into their credit card activity. 

If you also end up opening a checking or savings market with City First, you can receive a loyalty cash bonus of up to 50% for your use of their secured credit card. 

Amalgamated Bank Secured Card

Amalgamated Bank is one of America’s oldest environmentally friendly banks. They are a certified B Corporation that commits to building a better world, with million-dollar investments in clean energy, environmental protection, and nonprofit organizations. Since the mid-2010s, Amalgamated has maintained a carbon-neutral policy in alignment with the Paris Climate Accords. 

Amalgamated’s Secured Credit Card allows cardholders to request their own credit limit. A single deposit between $300 and $5,000 has to be made at application, which will be given back to you in as little as 11 months if you’re able to make monthly payments on time. 

Also, you may receive a credit limit increase after 7 months by maintaining good credit card activity. This secured credit card has an annual fee of $35 and an APR of about 24%.

Sunrise Banks

Sunrise Banks is a Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and a member of the GABV that has been working since its inception to provide more transparency in the banking sector. They provide loans and various bank accounts to small businesses, individuals, and nonprofits. 

Since 2019, their community financing initiatives have generated economic growth in some of America’s most economically distressed communities. 

Sunrise Banks offers a secured credit card that helps customers grow their credit without needing to pay any annual fees. This card has an APR of about 24% and provides customers with the option to earn interest on a companion secured savings account. Customers also receive zero fraud liability, which protects them against fraudulent transactions when their cards are lost or stolen.

Another green way to finance your life 

Besides getting yourself a green credit card, you can also open an eco-friendly savings account online with Aspiration. We are a B Corp certified online financial platform that helps customers grow their wealth using green savings and checking accounts. 

Our Spend and Save account offers customers up to 1.00% APY on their savings deposits without any need to pay any ATM fees, overdraft fees, or deposit fees. We also give customers the option to opt into our ‘Plant Your Change’ program, which lets customers purchase automatic carbon offsets each time they make a transaction. 

Environmental responsibility is at the heart of what we do. Try Aspiration today to build a sustainable financial future for yourself. 

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