Updated on Jan 11, 2018

The Best Cards for Bad Credit for 2018

Looking to improve your credit score? You’ve come to the right place.
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Not excited about your credit score? That’s OK. The best credit cards for bad credit have relaxed approval requirements and pre-qualification checks that help you find the best possible match before you apply. Take a look at our list of 2018’s best secured and unsecured credit cards and apply online in minutes.

Not sure what type of card you need?

There are two main types of cards for bad credit: secured and unsecured credit cards. Secured credit cards require a security deposit as collateral. Often, your credit limit will be equal to your deposit. Unsecured credit cards can be more difficult to qualify for, but they usually offer lower ongoing fees and upfront charges. Take advantage of pre-qualification to find out if you’re likely to be approved.

Learn More on Capital One's secure website.
Secured

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
Upfront fees $0 annual fee
APR 24.99% Variable

Pre-qualification available? No
Previous bankruptcy OK? Not specified
Highlights Provided by Capital One Show Highlights
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, determined based on your creditworthiness
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide
  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Rewards Details: N/A
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.99% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 24.99% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

Anyone who wants to rebuild or establish their credit with minimal upfront costs should consider the Capital One® Secured MasterCard®. There’s no annual fee, and you can put down as little as $49 to establish a $200 line of credit (depending on your creditworthiness). Use your card responsibly, and you could get a refund on your deposit, plus an increase in your credit line — no additional deposit needed!

How to use it
  • Put down a $49, $99, or $200 refundable deposit (based on your creditworthiness) to establish your line of credit. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line.
  • Make payments on time and in full each month to avoid interest and potentially qualify for a credit line increase.
  • Take advantage of CreditWise® from Capital One® to view your credit score and monitor your profile as you make progress.
Consider this

Depending on your creditworthiness, you might qualify for an initial $200 line of credit by putting down a deposit of as little as $49. And once you make your first five payments on time, you’ll qualify for a line of credit increase with no additional deposit.

Why you'll love it

Don’t let the security deposit deter you — the costs are minimal, there’s no annual fee, and you could receive a refund, plus a credit line increase, with responsible use. You can take advantage of Capital One® feature (such as personalized payments and CreditWise®), so you can take control of your credit.

Start your application now Back to top
Apply Now on Genesis Bankcard Services' secure website.
Unsecured

Upfront fees $0 – 99 annual fee
APR

Pre-qualification available? Yes
Previous bankruptcy OK? Yes

Our two cents

Who should get it

Anyone who has previously filed for bankruptcy should consider the . The won’t disqualify you for a previous bankruptcy and can even check if you’re likely to be approved through its pre-qualification check before you apply.

How to use it
  • Answer a few pre-qualification questions to find out if you’re likely to be approved.
  • Pay your balance on time each month to strengthen your credit score and avoid the high penalty APR.
  • Once your credit score is where it needs to be, consider switching to a card that offers a rewards program.
Consider this

If you’re still not sure if you’ll qualify, the offers a pre-qualification option to let you know the likelihood of getting approved. Even if they can’t match you to an Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®, they’ll offer you the chance to apply for a credit card from another bank.

Why you'll love it

Anyone who’s filed a bankruptcy knows that it can limit your credit options. That’s why the forgiving guidelines from the make it a desirable option. There’s no security deposit required, and the small annual fee makes this card an affordable option for improving your credit score.

Start your application now Back to top
Apply Now on Credit One Bank's secure website.
Unsecured

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®
Upfront fees $0 – 99 annual fee
APR 16.99% - 24.99% Variable

Pre-qualification available? Yes
Previous bankruptcy OK? Not specified
Rewards program 1% cash back on eligible purchases. (Terms apply.)
Highlights Provided by Credit One Show Highlights
  • No security deposit required. Get a 100% unsecured card that can help grow and build credit.
  • Focused on growing or rebuilding your credit? We report account activity to all three major credit bureaus each month to help keep your credit score up-to-date.
  • Find out if you're Pre-Qualified without harming your credit score. It's fast, easy, and secure.
  • Looking for more credit? Get credit line increase opportunities, a fee may apply
  • Get 1% cash back on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV. Terms apply.
  • Your account is safeguarded against unauthorized charges with Zero Fraud Liability at no additional charge
  • Stay in-the-know about your account with custom email and text alerts that remind you of your payment due date, notify you when a payment posts, or warn you if your available credit runs low
  • Show off your style with a premium card design, a fee may apply.
  • Issuer: Credit One
  • Rewards Details: Get 1% cash back on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV. Terms apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0-$99
  • Cash Advance APR: 18.90% - 25.90% Variable
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 16.99% - 24.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you’re a disciplined card user, the Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa® is one of the few cards for bad credit that comes with rewards! You’ll earn 1% cash back on everyday purchases, like gas, groceries, and more. After you earn, you’ll reap your rewards in the form of statement credit that you can use to pay down your balance.

In case you missed it

Want to change your payment due date to be closer to payday? With the Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®, you can! After your initial billing period, call customer service to request your payment due date change to either six days before or after the current date.

How to use it
  • Get pre-qualified without harming your credit score.
  • Don’t charge anything you couldn’t pay for outright. Budget to pay off your entire balance each month to build credit and avoid interest payments.
  • Use this card on eligible purchases like gas, groceries, and internet to earn cash back.
Consider this

Your annual fee may affect the amount you have available in credit with the Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa® since the annual fee is billed to your account when it is opened. For instance, if your annual fee is $75 and your credit line is $500, then your actual available credit is $425.

Why you'll love it

If you’re searching for a credit card that’s more forgiving of a bad credit score and offers rewards, then the Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa® is one to consider. The combination of great features provided by this card makes it easy to earn rewards while also building your credit in the process.

Start your application now Back to top
Apply Now on Genesis Bankcard Services' secure website.
Unsecured

Milestone® Gold Mastercard®
Upfront fees $35 – $99 annual fee
APR 23.90%

Pre-qualification available? Yes
Previous bankruptcy OK? Yes
Highlights Provided by Genesis Bank Show Highlights
  • Quick pre-qualification available with no impact to your credit score
  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • Choose your custom card design - Free
  • Free online account access
  • Protection from fraud, if your card happens to be lost or stolen
  • Accepted at over 35 Million Locations Worldwide!
  • Previous bankruptcy OK
  • Issuer: Genesis Bank
  • Annual Fee: $35 - $99
  • Cash Advance APR: 29.90%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 1% of each transaction
  • Ongoing APR: 23.90%
  • Penalty APR: 29.90%

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Milestone® Gold Mastercard® is great if you have a previous bankruptcy because you won’t be immediately disqualified for having one on your record. Plus, it offers a pre-qualification option that doesn’t impact your credit score. And depending on your score, you might qualify for an annual fee as low as $35.

How to use it
  • Take advantage of pre-qualification to check your eligibility without a hard inquiry on your credit score.
  • Budget to pay off your balance monthly (or bi-monthly!) to build credit and avoid the higher penalty APR.
  • After your credit score improves, make the switch to a card with a rewards program.
Consider this

While the Milestone® Gold Mastercard® does have low account opening fees, you will want to keep an eye out for other fees. If you add an authorized user, there’s a $25 fee. If you make a late payment or go over your limit, there’s a fee of up to $38 as well.

Why you'll love it

The Milestone® Gold Mastercard® has a lot of attractive features. It’s forgiving of a past bankruptcy, it offers $0 cash advance fees the first year and 1% foreign transaction fees, it doesn’t require a security deposit, and it’s backed by MasterCard®, allowing you to use it just about anywhere.

Start your application now Back to top
Apply Now on Mid America Bank & Trust's secure website.
Unsecured

Total VISA® Unsecured Credit Card
Upfront fees $89 processing fee; $75 annual fee for first year (then $48)
APR See Terms*

Pre-qualification available? No
Previous bankruptcy OK? Not specified
Highlights Provided by Mid America Bank & Trust Company Show Highlights
  • Checking Account Required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • A genuine VISA card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
  • Manageable monthly payments
  • If approved, simply pay a Processing Fee to open your account and access your available credit
  • Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus
  • Select your favorite card design from our gallery, for free!
  • No-Fee credit line increase opportunities!
  • Issuer: Mid America Bank & Trust Company
  • Annual Fee: See Terms*
  • Cash Advance APR: See Terms*
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: See Terms*

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Total VISA® Unsecured Credit Card is a simple, low-risk card for those who want to build discipline and repair their credit score. The initial credit limit is $300 (minus fees), making it hard to overspend.

How to use it
  • This card has an initial credit limit of $300. To keep your credit usage low, think carefully before making any large purchases.
  • Pay your entire balance monthly (or more often) to avoid interest at this card’s high APR.
  • Once your credit score improves, switch to a card with fewer fees and a rewards program.
Consider this

There are a number of fees associated with the Total VISA® Unsecured Credit Card. You can expect an annual fee of $75 for the first year (then $48 after that), an $89 processing fee, as well as $6.25 monthly service fee ($75 total, waived the first year). Make sure to pay your balance off in full and on time each month to avoid the 29.99% APR and a late payment fee of up to $38.

Why you'll love it

The Total VISA® Unsecured Credit Card isn’t for everyone, but if you want to take a disciplined approach to building credit, or you’re cautious about starting out with a high credit limit, you’ll want to consider this card. If you use it responsibly and keep your credit utilization low, this card can be a valuable tool for rebuilding your credit.

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Secured

Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee
Upfront fees Refundable deposit equal to credit limit ($200 minimum)
APR 24.24% Variable

Pre-qualification available? No
Previous bankruptcy OK? Not specified
Rewards program 2% cash back at restaurants & gas stations; unlimited 1% on all other purchases. Terms apply. Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
Highlights Provided by Discover Show Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
  • Your Secured Credit Card requires a refundable security deposit up to the amount we can approve of at least $200 which will establish your credit line. You will need to provide your bank information when submitting your security deposit.
  • We will automatically begin reviewing your account starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at restaurants & gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 2% cash back at restaurants & gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24% Variable
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 10.99%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 6 months
  • Ongoing APR: 24.24% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee offers the same benefits as an unsecured credit card with a security deposit as low as $200 (up to $2,500). There’s no annual fee, and you’ll earn 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations (up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter), 1% cash back on all other purchases, and an automatic dollar-for-dollar cash back matching at the end of your first year!

How to use it
  • Monitor your FICO® Credit Score for free in your account or on your monthly statement.
  • Pay off your balance on time and in full. Starting at eight months, Discover will review your credit management across all credit cards and loans (including those backed by other banks.) If your accounts are in good standing, Discover may refund your security deposit.
  • Use this card at restaurants and gas stations to earn extra cash back.
Consider this

A security deposit is required for the Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee. However, Discover will review your account starting at the eight-month mark to see if you qualify for a refund. These reviews are based on responsible credit management on your credit card, plus other accounts, such as loans or other credit cards not with Discover. This means you’ll want to make sure you’re responsible with all financial accounts.

Why you'll love it

The Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee has no annual fee and earns cash back rewards — that’s something most secured cards don’t do. On top of that, you’ll get an automatic cash back match of your first-year earnings.

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Secured

See Rates & Fees
Upfront fees Security deposit to 2-year CD ($250 minimum); $35 annual fee
APR

Pre-qualification available? No
Previous bankruptcy OK? Not specified

Our two cents

Who should get it

The is great for military members and their families because it has a low annual fee of $35, low variable APR rates, no foreign transaction fee, and super-low 4% APR during deployment or PCS.

How to use it
  • Make as large an initial deposit as possible. Your deposit will determine your credit limit (up to $5,000.)
  • Leave your security deposit in your CD for the full two-year term to avoid early withdrawal penalties.
  • Pay your balance on time and in full to boost your credit score.
Consider this

The ’s super-low 4% APR is only valid during deployment and PCS. All other times, your interest rate for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances will range from 11.15% – 21.15% (variable) based on creditworthiness.

Why you'll love it

If you’re a member of the armed forces and can put down the security deposit, you’ll find there’s a lot to love about the . While the card does offer a number of perks, you can also feel confident that you’re building or rebuilding your credit with responsible use.

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How does a secured credit card work?

Unlike normal (unsecured) credit cards, secured credit cards require an upfront deposit — most have a $200 minimum and $1,000 max — that also serves as your credit limit. If you miss a payment, the card issuer will settle the account with your deposit and adjust your credit limit accordingly, but you’ll still have to pay interest. If you decide to close a non-delinquent account, your deposit will be refunded.

Secured cards are great for rebuilding credit

Secured credit cards are less risky for lenders than regular credit cards because they’re bankrolled by you. Less risk means you don’t have to have a great credit score to qualify. That’s why secured cards are one of the best ways to build and improve credit. And after a few months of disciplined use, you might even be able to upgrade your credit limit — or qualify for an unsecured card with a better rewards program.

What is considered a bad credit score?

A FICO® score of 669 or below is less than ideal. A “good” score ranges from 670-739. Anything above that is ideal for scoring the best credit card interest rate possible. Take a look at the FICO® ranges below to see where you fit.

FICO Score Range
Very Poor 300-579
Fair 580-669
Good 670-739
Very Good 740-799
Exceptional 800-850

How can I raise my credit score quickly?

Rebuilding your credit score takes time and discipline, but there are a several practical first steps that you can take to jumpstart the process.

Check your credit report for errors

Here is the online dispute information for all three credit bureaus:

Raise your available credit

Depending on your credit history, a lender may raise your credit score on request. Doing so will lower your credit utilization ratio, and in turn give a slight boost to your credit score.

Ask for a partial payment

Instead of settling for a defaulted credit card bill, ask your lender whether it will accept a partial payment for a debt in collections and classify the debt as “paid.” Otherwise, you risk a serious blemish on your credit report that sticks around for years.

How long does it take to rebuild credit history?

How long it takes to rebuild credit history will depend on your financial situation. The good news is, though, that you can take steps today that put you on the path to positive credit.

First and foremost, if you have a large amount of outstanding debt that you’ve been struggling to pay off, then you should focus on reducing that debt before you incur any more debt. Once your current debts are managed, you can start rebuilding credit with one of the best credit cards for bad credit.

To get started, you’ll want to understand what goes into your credit score. FICO® Scores are broken down by:

  • 35% payment history
  • 30% amounts owed
  • 15% length of credit history
  • 10% new credit
  • 10% credit mix.

The most important thing you can do to improve your credit history is to pay your bill in full every month. As your score improves, you can apply for one of the best unsecured cards for bad or average credit, or even one of the best rewards credit cards if you make good strides. This will help you establish new credit, as well as add to your credit mix.

Pro tip

Be careful before you close old cards. When you close a card, it changes the percentage of your credit limit that is active (your credit utilization ratio), which in turn can impact up to 30% of your credit score. The effects are temporary, but we recommend against canceling credit cards right before applying for a mortgage, vehicle loan, or apartment.

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