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When you have less-than-perfect credit, you might find your options limited when it comes to all things that have to do with your finances. This includes credit cards. There are a limited number of credit cards available to borrowers with bad credit.
However, it’s not all gloom and doom. Some credit cards are designed to progress with you. As you demonstrate how good you are with credit, you may be rewarded with higher credit limits and higher credit scores. Let’s start with 11 of the best credit cards for bad credit.
Best credit cards for bad credit compared 2023
|Card||Credit score||APR||Annual fees||Welcome points|
Our recommendations for the the best credit cards for bad credit
When you’re looking for a credit card, it’s advisable to find one that suits your needs. That’s why we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of credit cards for bad credit that each have a unique focus or offer.
Best secured credit card: First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card offers secured credit lines up to $2,000. The annual fee is and the annual percentage rate (APR) is .
Best for low APR: card_name
If you’re looking for a credit card with a low APR, there’s not much that beats the card_name. The APR is reg_apr,reg_apr_type, which is very low for a credit card for bad credit. This secured card has a annual_fees annual fee.
Best for no credit check: OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Limited Time Offer
The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card doesn’t require a credit check and it’s possible to receive a credit line increase after six months. The deposit can be as low as $200 and comes with a annual_fees annual fee and a reg_apr,reg_apr_type APR. After six months, you may be able to “graduate” to an unsecured card.
Best for rewards: card_name
As far as rewards go, the card_name has the highest earning rate of any secured card on this list. You earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back on hotel and rental car purchases made through Capital One Travel. The minimum deposit is $200 for this secured card and there is a annual_fees annual fee.
Best for low deposit: card_name
The card_name is our pick for the best credit card for a low deposit. For annual_fees, you can secure a credit line up to $200. There is annual_fees annual fee and it’s possible to earn back your security deposit. You can also be considered for credit limit increases after six months.
Best for small businesses: Revenued Business Card
The Revenued Business Card isn’t technically a credit card, but rather, a revenue-based flex line. It’s a unique financing tool in that your future revenue receivables can be purchased at a discount in exchange for providing money you need now. It earns 3% cash back on every purchase after you earn your bonus.
Best for low program fee: First Latitude Secured Mastercard® Credit Card
One of the best credit cards for rewards is the First Latitude Secured Mastercard® Credit Card, which earns 1% cash back on your payments. It’s a secured credit card with a variable APR of 24.49% and an annual fee of $25 to $35 dollars. It’s secured, so your credit limit is as large as your deposit. The program fee is $19.95.
Best for upgrading: card_name
The card_name automatically considers credit line increases for cardholders. The annual fee is annual_fees, but it’s waived the first year if you sign up for AutoPay at the time of application. There is no security deposit required and no ATM withdrawal fees. You may be able to access part of your credit line through a digital wallet before your credit card arrives.
Best for rebuilding credit: card_name
There is no hard credit check for the card_name. This means virtually anyone can qualify if they meet the requirements, which are a little different than most credit cards. You’re required to open a card_name, make at least three on-time payments, and hold at least $100 in savings1. The credit limit goes up as your savings deposit goes up.
Best for 0% APR: card_name
The card_name is unique in that it doesn’t charge interest on the purchases you make. That distinguishes it from the other no-annual-fee cards on the list, not to mention those that do charge fees. There is no credit check either. The card requires a qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to be eligible for the credit card. As a secured card, your credit limit is equal to an amount you deposit.
The best credit cards for bad credit were chosen from 30 credit cards marketed to borrowers with low credit scores. Cards were evaluated based on their unique offerings for bad credit card borrowers included in the list above. APR, annual fee, late fees, penalty fees, rewards, balance transfer offer, and other factors were also taken into consideration.
How to tell if you need a credit card for bad credit
With bad credit, one of the most compelling reasons to get a credit card is to build your credit score, assuming you pay on time and keep your credit utilization low. Once your credit score increases, you may qualify for better financial products, which can make borrowing money easier and less expensive.
How to choose a card for bad credit
If you have bad credit and are looking for a credit card, take a look at lists of cards that accept applications from low-credit-score borrowers, such as the one compiled above.
Once you have narrowed down the choices based on your needs and priorities, ask yourself these questions:
- What is the APR? APRs are high for all credit cards, but if it’s excessive, see if you can find another option.
- Is the annual fee worth it? Some credit cards charge an annual fee. You’ll want to evaluate whether or not it is worth it.
- Which credit-building features does the card have? Will the lender automatically consider a credit-limit increase after a specified period of time?
- What are the fees? Paying fees isn’t fun, especially for low-credit-score-borrowers who already pay a premium on financial products. For example, what are the late fees? Some cards have minimal fees.
- Are the rewards useful? Some credit cards for cardholders with low credit scores offer rewards, but some of these rewards may not be worth it. If the redemptions are limited or the annual fee is very high with minimal rewards, you may want to wait to get into rewards cards after you’ve bumped up your credit score.
What's the easiest credit card to get approved for?
If you’re worried about even getting approved for a credit card, the easiest card to get is a secured credit card. As we explained earlier, a secured credit card requires a deposit that will act as your credit limit. You can spend up to that amount on your credit card each billing cycle.
How to apply for a credit card for bad credit
When you apply for a credit card with bad credit, be sure you have all the information you need at your fingertips. This can include:
- Other financial obligations, such as child support or alimony.
- Housing payment.
- Personal information (address, Social Security number, etc.)
You’ll likely apply online. A decision is often made very quickly.
Credit cards to avoid
Some cards charge so many fees and a high interest rate that the cost far outweighs the benefits. There are definitely better cards than these:
Total Visa Card, Revvi and First Access
The disclosures for the Total Visa Card, Revvi Visa Credit Card and First Access Visa Credit Card look identical. They are full of junk fees that will drag your finances down. To start, you pay a $95 “program fee” to gain access to the card. Then, you pay a $75 annual fee the first year, and a $48 annual fee every year after that. But we’re not done with fees yet. After the first year, you’re also charged a monthly servicing fee which comes out to $99 per year (or $8.25 per month). All these fees are for a $300 credit limit. You can do better.
PREMIER Bankcard Grey Credit Card
The PREMIER Bankcard Grey Credit Card is one of the few options for an unsecured card with bad credit, but it’s incredibly expensive. The APR is 36%. Then, you have to pay a $95 program fee, an annual fee between $50 and $79 for the first year (then $45 to $49), and a monthly maintenance fee. The monthly maintenance fee ranges between $0 and $96 for the first year and $75 and $124.80 for subsequent years.
If it sounds confusing, that’s because it is. You’re better off getting a secured credit card that doesn’t charge a bunch of junk fees.
Alternatives to credit cards to raise your credit
If you have bad credit, there are other ways you can boost your score besides showing how responsible you are paying off a credit card. You may want to consider the following alternatives to a credit card.
Take out a debt consolidation loan
A debt consolidation loan is an installment loan rather than a revolving line of credit. In your credit report, it shows up in a different category from credit cards. When the money is paid off in installments, you not only build your credit history with on-time payments, but you can also take the amount on your credit card to zero, which looks great for your credit utilization ratio.
Set payments to auto-pay
If you don’t already have your payments set to auto-pay, open a new window and do it right now. It’s that valuable because 35% of your credit history is built with on-time payments. If you set up auto-pay, you won’t have to think about being late ever again.
Keep older accounts to increase length of credit history
There are a few things you shouldn’t do when it comes to your finances. For one, don’t close older accounts. A part of your credit score is the length of your credit history, or how long your accounts have been open. Be careful what accounts you close. Of course, if you have trouble spending on an account and would rather have it closed to eliminate temptation, that’s an important consideration as well.
Choose credit carefully
New credit inquiries account for 10% of your credit score. Applying for a bevy of credit in a short amount of time is concerning to credit issuers and your credit score may take a hit. However, they recognize that some inquiries are normal, so be choosy with whatever credit you apply for. To reduce credit inquiries on your report, consider prequalifying with a lender who offers a soft credit check, which won’t show up on your credit report.
Pay down balances
Balances on your revolving lines of credit should be kept under 30%, if not lower, for the best credit scores. When you pay down your balances, you may get a more favorable credit utilization ratio which can boost your credit score.
TIME Stamp: Our top choice
When it comes to building your credit, there are some cards and issuers that help more than others. The card_name is worth mentioning again since it doesn’t charge interest or an annual fee, and there’s no credit check required.
This stands in stark contrast to many of the subprime credit card offers you may see come through the mail. They can bury you in fees and may do little to help build your credit.
The bottom line is that it’s up to you to build your own credit score, whether or not you choose one of these credit cards. A higher credit score brings a host of benefits that make borrowing money easier and more affordable. Be sure to set your payments on auto pay so you’re never late with a payment. You can achieve a higher credit score with a little work and patience.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What credit card can I get with a high limit with bad credit?
The limit you’re approved for depends on your credit score, debt levels, income, and application. It’s possible you may only qualify for a secured credit card, which you’ll need to front the deposit for. The deposit determines your credit limit.
Can I get a credit card with a 500 credit score?
If you’re looking for a credit card and have a 500 credit score, you may want to look at secured cards that are issued to users with any credit score.
Can I get a credit card even with bad credit?
Yes. There are credit cards specifically for borrowers with bad credit. You just need to find the right card and use it responsibly to help build your credit.
*Limited Time Offer: $51 funding voucher applied for all new accounts. Get a $200 credit line for $149. Click the "OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card" link to see additional terms and conditions.
The Self Visa® Credit Card is issued by Lead Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender or SouthState Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.
1Card eligibility: Active Credit Builder Account in good standing, 3 on time payments, $100 or more in savings progress. Requirements subject to change.
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