Last updated on March 15th, 2023
Having bad credit disqualifies many people from such significant events as getting a mortgage or even finding their dream apartment. Fortunately, having bad credit doesn’t mean you can’t qualify for loans or credit cards to repair your damaged credit score. So, what credit cards can you get with bad credit?
Secured Credit Cards for Bad Credit Scores
Credit cards for bad credit break down into two distinct categories: unsecured cards and secured cards. Secured credit cards are the most accessible type of credit card to get because they require a security deposit and often do not require a credit check.
This security deposit requirement is what makes these cards “secure.” Applicants apply with a cash deposit (usually a minimum of $200 to $300), and the lender then opens the card account. The security deposit acts as both collateral and the credit limit. This means the more money you deposit, the higher your credit limit.
Why Use a Secured Card?
Secured cards are great for repairing credit. Since they are easy to obtain, they offer a simple way to increase the amount of available credit you have. Most secured cards also don’t conduct a hard inquiry when you apply. These two factors can help you quickly raise your credit score by several points.
What Are the Best Secured Credit Cards for Bad Credit?
Choosing a secured credit card is an excellent option for people with bad credit. Many secured cards offer a lifeline to those with a history of late, or missed, payments, bankruptcies, repossessions, or other financial mishaps.
Here are some of the most popular secured cards for people with bad credit (or no credit):
Build credit with on-time payments
Reports to the three leading credit bureaus
Zero Fraud Liability
The OpenSky® Secured Visa® is one of the most popular secured cards due to its easy application process. Besides no credit check, the card features a low, $35 annual fee, a wealth of credit repair information through its Knowledge Center, and an adjustable credit line.
First Progress is another popular issuer that specializes in secured cards. The lender offers three cards aimed at different types of credit card users. These cards offer different APRs and annual fees. The First Progress Platinum Prestige, for example, offers a low 9.99% APR and $49 annual fee. The low rate makes it perfect for anyone planning to carry a balance.
The Platinum Elite is geared towards those new to credit, featuring a 19.99% APR and a low $29 annual fee. The Platinum Select is the mid-range card, with a 13.99% APR and a $39 annual fee. This middle card is perfect for those who want the versatility to carry a balance, but not the higher yearly fee.
First Progress Platinum Elite
First Progress Platinum Select
First Progress Platinum Prestige
|$29 annual fee||$39 annual fee||$49 annual fee|
|No credit history needed||No credit inquiry required||First Progresses lowest rate|
|Does not earn rewards||1% cash back rewards||1% cash back rewards|
Other Options to Consider
Other popular secured cards include the Discover It Secured (which earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter), Applied Bank’s Applied Bank Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Card, the PCB Secured Visa, the Secured Mastercard from Capital One, and the Citi® Secured Mastercard®.
For those seeking a 0% introductory APR, the Assent Platinum 0% Intro Rate Mastercard® Secured Credit Card comes with zero interest for the first six months on purchases – and a great low APR of 12.99% after that.
Related Article: Can You Raise Your Credit Score 100 Points In a Month?
Unsecured Credit Cards for Bad Credit Scores
The other type of credit card for bad credit is an unsecured card. Unsecured credit cards differ from secured cards in that they don’t require a security deposit. An unsecured card is what people most associate with a traditional credit card. You apply, and if approved, your bank grants you a credit line you can use to make purchases.
Because these cards don’t require a deposit, they will result in a hard inquiry when you apply. This means applying for a card like this can impact your credit score – albeit not significantly. Additionally, these cards are typically more challenging to get than secured cards, meaning the bank might reject your application if you do not meet their requirements.
Why Choose an Unsecured Card?
While unsecured credit cards pose a higher risk of rejection, they still offer many practical benefits compared to secured cards. These include no security deposit and the chance of a credit line increase after demonstrating financial responsibility over time.
What Are the Best Unsecured Cards for Bad Credit?
Unsecured cards for bad credit break down into two distinct categories themselves: “guaranteed approval” credit cards and credit repair cards.
Guaranteed Approval Credit Cards
While “guaranteed approval” isn’t 100% accurate, these cards are much easier to get than many other credit repair cards on the market. The two best examples of these easy-to-get cards are the Principal Platinum and the Group One Platinum Card. Both cards offer a $750 unsecured line of credit cardholders can use at the Horizon Outlet. The outlet is an online marketplace that features thousands of products, like Amazon.
Here are the top merchandise cards:
Why Choose a Merchandise or Catalog Card?
The benefit of cards like the Horizon cards or others, like Unique or Buy on Trust, is that they regularly report to one of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Make your payments on time each month, and your bad credit score can quickly climb.
The Unique Platinum Card comes with an initial credit line of $1,000. This is $250 more than what Horizon offers. Additionally, the card’s store – My Unique Outlet – has a massive selection of name-brand electronics, fragrances, and supplies for the home and kitchen. And like other catalog cards, applicants for the Unique Card won’t be turned away for bad credit or no credit.
Buy On Trust is a pay-over-time credit account that lets consumers shop the biggest names in electronics from leading electronics vendor, Best Buy. They can buy now and pay later – with no credit needed.
The various cards that work at the Horizon Outlet, the Freedom Gold, Merit, NetFirst, and Group One Platinum, also provide access to a catalog of impressive products. Horizon cards also have a suite of other benefits, including:
|My Privacy Protection||Users receive access to unlimited privacy protection when using their card within Horizon’s online portal.|
|My Roadside Protection||Members have access to up to three service calls or towing requests per year (up to 15 miles, and not to exceed the operator cost of $50) free of charge.|
|Credit Hawk||Cardholders receive 24/7 credit monitoring access through Credit Hawk.|
|My Universal RX||Cardholders get unlimited access to up to 40% in discounts at participating local pharmacies|
|My Legal Assistance||Cardholders receive one free 30-minute consultation with a specialized legal professional in your area (excluding criminal defense).|
Credit Repair Credit Cards
The other type of credit card for bad credit is credit repair credit card. These cards are specially designed for people with bad credit, fair credit, or even no credit history. These cards offer the chance at a credit limit increase after several months of on-time payments.
Surge® Platinum Mastercard®
Applied Bank® Unsecured Classic Visa® Card
|The Surge Mastercard® from Celtic Bank can be an ideal pre-qualification option if you need to repair or continue building your less-than-perfect credit score.||The Applied Bank® Unsecured Classic Visa® Card is a credit card designed to help you build your credit score.||Revvi is a full-fledged Visa® credit card that can help you improve your credit score with on-time payments and responsible use.|
|Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)||A $300 unsecured credit line which can be used at grocery stores, gas stations, discount stores, ATMs and online||Earn 1% cash back rewards^^ on payments made to your Revvi Credit Card|
The Milestone Gold Mastercard and Indigo Platinum Mastercard are two other examples of credit cards for bad credit. Both cards offer a fixed-rate APR, meaning cardholders won’t have to worry about the interest rate changing multiple times. Other popular options come from lenders like Credit One and the Mercury Mastercard.
|$300 credit limit||$300 credit|
|Quick, online pre-qualification||Pre-qualify with no credit impact|
|$35 to $99 annual fee||$0 to $99 annual fee|
Bad credit doesn’t mean you can’t get credit. A subprime credit score means you need to work on repairing your credit with the right credit cards. Using the options above can help you quickly repair your credit if you follow the correct advice. This advice includes:
|① Check your credit score||The first thing you should do is check your credit score to see where you stand. You might already know your credit score is bad, but how far down on the scale, does it go? Knowing how fast you can improve your credit from “bad” to “fair” is crucial to making a financial plan of attack.|
|② Get a credit card for subprime credit||Part of boosting your credit score is increasing your use of credit. For those with bad credit, this may seem counter-intuitive. Fortunately, there are many unsecured credit cards for poor credit and secured cards that can help you repair your credit score.|
|③ Pay on time each month||As seen in the scoring models, payment history is the biggest factor in your credit score. Because payment history is so important, paying your credit card bill on time each month is essential to boosting sub-prime credit. Missed payments stay on a credit report for seven years.|
|④ Keep your credit use low||Credit utilization is as important as paying on time. Credit utilization shows lenders how you use your credit. Those who keep their credit use below 30% can expect their score to improve, while those who use less than 10% can expect a much faster score rise.|
Thanks to monthly reporting by the major credit bureaus, once your credit improves, you’ll qualify for better credit card offers, a higher credit line, better loan rates, and even mortgages.
Related Article: What Are the Easiest Credit Cards for Bad Credit to Get?