If he must go the secured card route, I'd recommend a deposit of $500 (for myself, $1000 would be the max). Manage the account responsibly and within several months I think his credit profile would be healthy enough to shoot for a solid unsecured cared (checking the preapproval sites prior to applying).
We tried to pull his reports/scores from CreditKarma and they said he doesn't exist.
When he gets into work, I'll ask him to pull his annual credit reports from annualcreditreport.com or whatever it is, and see if there is anything at all for him in the system.
Yeah, if he really doesn't have a report (no credit ever) then it makes sense he's not prequalified for anything (since those come from creditors looking at the reports they buy from the bueraus AFAIK). I know I only started getting prequals after getting rejected for credit at a couple of places (I guess the inqs helped finally generate a report for me) and my first prequal (and card) was with Cap 1. I also know at least three more people who started off with Cap 1 so I'm definitely another +1 on starting off with Cap 1.
OK! He's about to have a file.
His bank (Citizens) was no help, and even Cap One said Nope to unsecured. He ended up with a $49/$200 secured card with Cap One (to which he added an extra $50 into the deposit for a $250 credit limit.
He's going to let that simmer for six monthsmonths or so then try again.
Make sure he uses it quite a bit and PIF each month to show good usage patterns.I would suggest a secuered personal loan/CC combination from SDFCU as well. It will give his scores another kick and increase the likelyhood of an unsecured Cap One approval in a couple of months, rather than six...