Updated on Dec 2, 2019

Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Improve your credit score with the best credit card for bad credit.
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If your credit is less than perfect, but you’re looking to rebuild your financial livelihood, then a pre-approved credit card may be right for you. Unlike standard credit cards, which require an extensive application and credit check, pre-approved, starter credit cards are available to those with no or limited credit. Though these cards commonly carry high APRs and sometimes require annual fees and/or security deposits, they can be a helpful option for those hoping to rebuild their credit.

Summary

The Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit of 2019

Apply Now on Credit One's secure website.

Flat Rate Rewards

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®

Upfront fees See Terms
APR 19.74% to 25.74% Variable

Pre-qualification available? Not specified
Previous bankruptcy OK? Yes
Highlights Provided by Credit One Show Highlights
  • Find out if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score
  • Eligible purchases earn 1% cash back rewards automatically, terms apply
  • Get a credit line between $300 and $3,000 based on your credit history
  • Accounts are automatically reviewed for credit line increase opportunities
  • Choose your monthly payment due date for added convenience, terms apply
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Manage your account on-the-go with the Credit One Bank mobile app
  • Looking to rebuild credit? We report to the major credit bureaus monthly
  • View your Experian credit score online for free, terms apply
  • Issuer: Credit One
  • Annual Fee: $0-$99
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.74% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: Either $1 or 3% of each purchase in U.S. dollars, whichever is greater.
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 19.74% to 25.74% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you’re looking for a card you can use for your every day casual spending, Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa® is great for you. In fact, you get 1% cash back rewards on all eligible purchases, including gas, groceries, and a range of monthly bills. Start making your money work for you by utilizing cashback savings.

How to use it
Use this card to pay for purchases you would’ve been making but with cash or debit. That way, you’ll earn rewards and avoid spending more than you can repay each month.
Consider this

Look out for the fees associated with this card. There’s an annual fee of $0-$99 depending on your credit score. Late fees can also add up quickly at up to $39 per late payment. Be sure to pay off your balance each month to avoid the high APR.

Why you'll love it

You’ll appreciate the added flexibility of choosing your own balance due date with the Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®. If you need to adjust based on your money situation, the company will work with you to do so. They’ll also reward you for good credit card use by extending your line of credit periodically.

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Rotating Category Rewards

Discover it® Secured

Upfront fees Refundable deposit equal to credit limit ($200 minimum)
APR 24.49% Variable

Pre-qualification available? No
Previous bankruptcy OK? Not specified
Rewards program 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants; unlimited 1% on all other purchases. Terms apply. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
Highlights Provided by Discover Show Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% Variable
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 10.99%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 6 months
  • Ongoing APR: 24.49% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

This card is ideal for those looking to build or rebuild their credit and who want to utilize an impressive cashback rewards system and enjoy dining out. Though it’s not a prepaid card or debit card, you are required to provide a refundable security deposit to open a credit account.

How to use it
The Discover it® Secured card rewards you with 2% rewards (up to $1,000 per quarter) on purchases from gas stations and restaurants. You also receive 1% cashback rewards on all other purchases automatically. Prioritize using this card when filling up your car or grabbing a bite to eat.
Consider this

The Discover it® Secured card is not a pre-approved credit card and does require a credit check. However, the card is geared toward those with less-than-perfect credit, so if your credit score is poor but not dreadful, then you most likely have a shot at being approved.

Why you'll love it

As if extra rewards for filling your tank and enjoying a meal weren’t enough, Discover also matches your cashback rewards dollar for dollar at the end of your first year of card use. You’ll love the extra care Discover shows their cardholders.

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Apply Now on Capital One's secure website.

Building Credit

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Upfront fees $0 annual fee
APR 26.99% (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
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • 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
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.99% (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: 26.99% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you’re hoping to rebuild your credit quickly, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® may be exactly what you need. With reporting to all three major credit bureaus, you can watch your credit rise as you use your card responsibly.

How to use it
Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is accepted at locations all over the world, so you can use it whether you’re at home or on the go. Take advantage of extended lines of credit with no additional deposit required after making on-time payments for the first five months.
Consider this

In order to qualify for this secured card, you must have a bank account, and your income must be at least $425 greater than your rent or mortgage payment.

Why you'll love it

Some secured credit cards only match an amount equal to the amount of your security deposit, but that’s not the case with this card. You’ll also love being able to pay your security deposit in installments instead of one upfront sum.

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Apply Now on The Bank of Missouri's secure website.

Instant Approval

Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card

Upfront fees See Terms*
APR See Terms*

Pre-qualification available? No
Previous bankruptcy OK? Not specified
Highlights Provided by The Bank of Missouri 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 Program 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!
  • Issuer: The Bank of Missouri
  • 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

If you need a credit card immediately, then the Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card is a great option. It offers a quick application process and instant approval. This is a true Visa credit card for those with imperfect credit scores. It’s one of the greatest credit cards for no credit.

How to use it
Because it features such a high APR, be sure to only spend small amounts you can pay off each month. You should avoid carrying a balance with a high APR.
Consider this

Not only does this unsecured credit card have some of the highest APRs of the bunch, it also requires both an upfront program fee and an annual fee. Make sure you can cover these additional fees before applying for this card.

Why you'll love it

You’ll love the convenience of Total Visa’s efficient application process and approval system. You can also choose from six fun credit card designs when you apply.

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Apply Now on Capital Bank's secure website.

Low Fees

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Upfront fees See Terms*
APR 19.14% (variable)

Pre-qualification available? No
Previous bankruptcy OK? Yes
Highlights Provided by Capital Bank Show Highlights
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search "OpenSky Card" in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
  • *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card.
  • Issuer: Capital Bank
  • Annual Fee: $35
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5% of the amount of each Balance Transfer
  • Cash Advance APR: 19.14% (variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Ongoing APR: 19.14% (variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is ideal for those looking to quickly rebuild their credit, while avoiding a credit application and high fees. Featuring all the benefits of a Visa credit card, the OpenSky Secured Visa allows you to set your credit limit by matching your refundable deposit. This card makes for one of the best first credit cards.

How to use it
Use this card for everyday purchases you can pay off at the end of the pay period. Replace your small cash and debit purchases with the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card to start bettering your credit history.
Consider this

The only drawback to using this secured credit card is that the line of credit matches, rather than exceeds, your initial upfront security deposit. You may start off with a meager credit limit.

Why you'll love it

You’ll love the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card because it’s just like a traditional credit card. You receive all the benefits of a Visa card, including global acceptance, fraud protection, and much more. Furthermore, the card’s low fees are particularly welcome among pre-approved credit cards.

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Pro Tip


Don’t look desperate! When starting your search for credit cards for bad credit, you may be tempted to apply for as many as possible in hopes of getting approved. Don’t do this! Each time you apply, a hard inquiry is put on your credit report and this inquiry negatively impacts your credit score for as long as 12 months. Instead of applying for several different cards, try a pre-qualification option first (which is a soft inquiry), or only apply for cards you are confident you’ll be approved for.

What is bad credit?

Your credit score is a number that reflects the level of risk associated with your buying and payment behaviors. When lenders and other financial groups look at your credit history, they are seeking to determine the probability that you will pay back the money you borrow. Your credit score plays a key role in determining how to get a credit card. Those with high credit scores typically make on-time payments and avoid carrying obscene amounts of debt. High credit scores are typically 650 and above. Those with low credit scores, on the other hand, may have missed a few payments entirely, faced difficulty making on-time bill payments, or accumulated too much debt relative to their income. Low credit scores are generally those that fall below 650. It doesn’t take long to severely damage your credit reputation. Though the road back to financial health may be more of a challenge, it’s possible to start rebuilding your credit with a few simple changes.

What should I consider when shopping for a credit card for people with bad credit?

If you have less-than-perfect credit but you’d like to begin rebuilding your credit with a credit card, there are a few things to consider, including:

  1. APR: Find out if the credit card has a fixed or variable APR and how high it can run. While you should always try to avoid carrying a high balance when building your credit, the APR will determine how much extra you have to pay when you can’t make your payment in full.
  2. Annual fee: Check to see if the credit card charges an annual fee before applying..
  3. Security deposit: many credit cards meant to help rebuild bad credit require a security deposit before you can begin utilizing the card. Many companies will match the amount you put down as your line of credit.
  4. Other fees: some cards require program or start-up fees
  5. Credit check required: if a credit check is required, you may do more harm than good if your odds of approval are low. Each time a company checks your credit, your score suffers.

What is the difference between a secured and an unsecured credit card?

A secured credit card is guaranteed by you through an upfront security deposit. This deposit represents your line of credit with a secured credit card, although some cards will match or exceed the amount you provide. This type of card is great for those looking to build or rebuild their credit scores. On the other hand, an unsecured credit card is funded by the financial institution and depends on a variety of factors, including credit score, credit history, and income. Unsecured credit cards are best for those with good credit.

How to rebuild your credit

Whether you have no credit or poor credit, there is a way back to financial health. By following a few simple steps, you’ll be on the way to a higher credit score before you know it.

1. Pay Bills on Time

One of the best ways to start building your credit back up is by paying all of your bills on time. Even when you need to make a minimum payment, doing so ahead of the due date will help show the credit bureaus that you are reliable with your payments.

2. Keep Credit Card Balances Low

Don’t spend more than you can afford, and don’t charge items you can pay off within the pay period. Focus on paying down your credit card and other debts before adding more to them. Your debt to available credit ratio is an important factor in determining your credit score, so keep that in mind as you rebuild.

3. Be Wary of Opening New Accounts

Each time your credit history is run by a lender, your score takes a hit. Furthermore, if you have too many open accounts going at once, your credit score will suffer. Stick to your main accounts as you work on better your credit score.

4. Don’t Close Unused Accounts

Even if you have credit cards you haven’t used in months, avoid closing unused accounts. When you close credit accounts, it signals that something may be wrong to the credit bureaus. There’s no rule stating you must close accounts you aren’t using. Instead, if you don’t want to use an account any longer, shred your card or lock it away for safe-keeping.

5. Dispute Inaccuracies

It’s imperative to monitor your credit report consistently. This way, you can see how your credit score is changing, and you can also be on the lookout for any discrepancies or inaccuracies. If something has been misrepresented on your credit report, you can dispute it with the company and attempt to have it removed from your credit history.

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